Why we need long-term thinking for long-term records

Regardless of the sector you work in, there’s a tendency for users and managers to focus exclusively on the short-term. This sometimes means that we lose opportunities to act in our long-term interest. Here’s why we need to think long-term and take action to protect critical digital records:

Maintaining perspective

As records management professionals, we’re still fighting the thorny issue of getting people to pay attention in the normal course of business operations to records that need care and protection. Organizations simply have to fight the temptation to always stay in the present and think about the longer term accessibility of valued information assets. 

Records and information governance practitioners play a vital role in easing this tension, creating dialogues and use cases to move people from a blinkered short term focus. There are plenty of reasons to pay attention to current business, but we also need to be proactive about combatting technology obsolescence and ensuring the sustainability of long-term digital records. 

The business benefits of digital preservation

There are two key business benefits that organizations can achieve through digitally preserving their long-term critical information: 

  • Realize value: by improving decision making, managing operational costs, and retaining competitive advantages 
  • Mitigate risk: through compliance with legal and regulatory mandates, and by anticipating technology change 

89% of participants surveyed in The Governance of Long-Term Digital Information: IGI 2017 Benchmark report identified Statutory, Regulatory, and/​or Legal Operations’ as the most important reason for digital preservation. This finding supports the argument for being proactive about identifying and prioritizing care of long-term records. Ensuring that long-term business critical records are authentic and readable for as long as they are needed, spans both the value and risk spectrum. 

Less risk, more reward

By anticipating the preservation and access requirements of records over the long haul and moving them into the right environment, companies can lessen some of the costs associated with their production systems whilst retaining competitive advantage. The other side of the coin of course is compliance and risk mitigation. There are many legal, regulatory and statutory requirements that organizations need to abide by, and access to securely stored and authentic company records is a foundational aspect of demonstrating compliance. 

Businesses also need to mitigate risk by anticipating technology change. We know that technology will change, and we know it will cycle every few years. So we can audit information systems and identify information assets which are sitting in systems which are not capable of taking care of long term records. 

Long term retention periods and high standards for access to readable, authentic and trusted electronic records are driving the need for proactive digital archiving strategies and capabilities. Just as we’ve had a systematic way of managing paper records by indexing and then storing them under the right conditions, we now need to act to protect the value and availability of long term business records to enable our operations to continue and prosper. 

To find out more about how digital preservation can help to protect critical, long term business records, take a look at our case studies or get in touch with the Preservica team.

Posted by

Lori Ashley

Industry Market Development Manager

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