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Ready ... or not?

With its recent announcement that it had lost e-mail records pertinent to an ongoing investigation and that staffers were using e-mail accounts outside its control, the U.S. White House was added to a long and rapidly growing list of organizations reporting that they have lost data or suffered an electronic breach. Unlike the White House, though, many organizations are subject to civil judgments and steep fines from regulatory agencies for their failures to properly manage their records.

Morgan Stanley, for example, was ordered to pay $1.57 billion in compensatory and punitive damages after the judge drew an adverse inference that the company's failure to produce e-mails requested for discovery was because the e-mails would have been harmful to the company.

In a data breach announced earlier this year, TJX Cos. Inc. reported that nearly 50 million customers' credit card information was exposed due to a security breach, and a disk containing the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and birth dates of almost 3 million Georgians was lost in shipping. While it will be many months, or even years, before the company's financial damages are totaled, within a few weeks of the announcement, TJX said it was recording a fourth-quarter 2006 charge of .01 per share--which Information Week estimated to be a loss of about $4.5 million.

Each of these announcements, no doubt, has caused records and information (RIM) professionals to shake their heads incredulously at the idea that the business community--even large organizations--still is frequently not getting RIM right.

In her press briefing on April 13, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said one factor in the White House failure was that its policy was not clear enough and that it had not kept pace with technology, such as the widespread use of BlackBerry PDAs.

Politics aside, the White House case, as well as the others mentioned, illustrates the imperative for RIM professionals to play a leading and collaborative role in developing and implementing policies and procedures that are keeping pace with technology and changing business processes--and in driving and auditing compliance. Several articles in this issue will help.

In "R U Ready for IM?," Jesse Wilkins, CDIA+, writes that although instant messaging (IM) use in the workplace has many benefits, it also presents many challenges. Although--according to a survey from the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute--50 percent of workers are downloading and installing free IM tools, only 31 percent of organizations have a policy on IM usage. Organizations, Wilkins writes, typically move through four phases of IM use, with most currently being in one of the first three phases: 1) ignorance, 2) denial, and 3) acceptance. Wilkins' article identifies strategies and tools to address the challenge of getting organizations to the final phase--optimization--in which IM use is considered a mission-critical application along the lines of e-mail.

Sometimes it is an organization's entire records management culture that needs an overhaul. As Patricia Daum, CRM, explains in her article, "Evolving the Records Management Culture: From Ad Hoc to Adherence," it is imperative that everyone in an organization follow RIM program policies and procedures and not their own ad hoc methods, which put organizations at risk of non-compliance and result in lost productivity and extra costs. Daum's article provides a framework for records management program planning and implementation.

Culture change is also often a by-product for organizations that implement an enterprise content management (ECM) or business process management (BPM) system, which is often done to address regulatory and compliance concerns. In "Cost/Benefit Analysis for Implementing ECM, BPM Systems," Doug Allen, CRM, CDIA+, writes about how to quantify the return on investment (ROI) for these systems and how RIM professionals can contribute to the ROI evaluation process.

The challenge for RIM professionals--especially as it relates to electronic records--is not going to go away. According to The National Law Journal, 60 to 70 percent of all corporate data reside in or are attached to e-mail, 99 percent of all documents today are in digital form, and electronic data are obtained in three out of every four lawsuits involving Fortune 500 companies.

The White House, Morgan Stanley, and TJX Cos. Inc. are all examples of organizations that learned painfully that they were not ready for the challenge. Is your organization? Are you?
COPYRIGHT 2007 Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:IN FOCUS: A Message from the Editors
Publication:Information Management Journal
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:714
Previous Article:Perspectives in archival Science.
Next Article:Gartner warns firms of 'dirty data'.
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