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The future of information management

Mar 22, 2017
Dominic Johnstone, Head of Information Management Services at Crown Records Management, looks at five hot topics that should exercise the minds of all those involved in information management.

The world of information management is set to hit the headlines in 2017 as new technology and new legislation forces businesses to focus on how best to look after their data assets. 

One of the biggest growth areas is likely to be long-term digital preservation as an increasing number of companies seek to put in place watertight solutions to hold onto their ever-growing corporate footprint. Keeping information up to date is one thing, but what happens if the format it is stored on becomes obsolete in the future?  

It is estimated that 98% of organisations need to keep digital records for the long term because of issues relating to compliance, legal defence, litigation and enduring corporate backing. This throws up important considerations as technology changes so quickly.  

The BBC’s Blue Peter Domesday project illustrates the need for a preservation strategy. The corporation spent £12m on storing schools’ Domesday records in the 1980s yet 20 years later found they could no longer be read, taking vast amounts of work to recover and re-present the content.  

But digital preservation is not the only issue likely to shake the industry this year. We expect to see more companies putting measures in place for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is edging ever closer. Plus, increasing storage costs and a boost in global data handling is also likely to have a major impact.  

Here are the key points I believe will influence the information management industry in 2017:

1. Long-term digital preservation  

With such vast amounts of corporate information needing to be saved, we are seeing more companies utilising cloud services. This is a cheap and effective short-term solution but poses a real threat in the long term as, in reality, any content older than 10 years is at risk of becoming obsolete as hardware, operating systems, programmes and file formats rapidly develop. In 2017, we are likely to see an emerging awareness and need for long-term digital preservation solutions as the industry wakes up to these inherent threats.   

2. EU General Data Protection Regulation  

Regulation in the data world is evolving and the next big shake-up we can expect is the impending EU GDPR. Coming into force in May 2018, the new regulation will have major implications for all sectors regarding the way data is collected, stored and accessed. As a result, we expect to see more companies putting in place comprehensive information management systems and processes which will allow them to identify what information they have, where it is, how it can be utilised and who is responsible for it. At the end of the day Brexit Britain may not be part of the EU, but the majority of organisations will have to comply with its regulations as they will stand until the UK defines its own.  

3. Dark Data 

The International Data Corporation estimates that as much as 80% of customer data is 'garbage'. As such, millions of pounds are wasted each year on storage and countless opportunities are being missed as information hidden in dark data, which could inspire new products or services in the future or at least provide some useful insights, is ignored. In the future, more companies will wake up to the importance of unlocking this value and of understanding its risks. Or most importantly not ignoring the fact it is there.  

4. Hidden cost of storage 

With the cost of rental space expected to increase in 2017 and digital storage continuing to drop, it is unsurprising that more companies are expected to move from paper storage to digital storage in a bid to save space and money. However, unlike paper, digital storage is continually being improved and updated. This means the information must be updated too so that it remains compatible with new software. If it isn’t, the price to retrieve it could prove costly in the future.   

5. Global data handling 

Impending Brexit has given the UK a chance to become the de facto standard in information management and data storage in the future as legislation affecting America and Europe will no longer apply. Because of this demand, we are seeing more data centres being built in the UK. In fact, according to Data Centre Map, there are nearly 250 data centres in the UK alone - a figure that is likely to increase over the next year.  


Dominic Johnstone 

Dominic Johnstone is Head of Information Management Services at Crown Records Management and has more than 17 years of experience in the industry. As an advisor on information management strategy Dominic has particular expertise in the area of information governance. 



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