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by Nathan Voogt

7 Key Takeaways from the IRMS Conference 2021

Explore the ley themes and biggest takeaways from the IRMS Conference 2021.

December 2, 2021

It's been a busy few weeks in the world of Preservica with the Launch of Starter in the UK, announcements on training with IRMS and ARA as well as the huge news of a further £5mil investment from Gresham House Ventures to accelerate our digital preservation solutions… but this all paled in comparison to attending my first face to face conference in over two years!

This week the IRMS event (twice postponed due to the C* word) finally took flight in the UK’s second-largest city and my very own stomping ground Birmingham with the theme of Information and Data: The heart of your organisation.

With the snow falling on the first day, I suspect the Hilton Metropole car park has never looked quite so endearing:

Whilst it was great to be out in the wild again and blowing off the cobwebs it took a little adjusting, especially when face to face with Records and Information managers eager to learn more about digital records preservation. The IRMS committee clearly wanted to test the vendors' resolve and threw all of us on stage during the first session for individual 60-second pitches. Thankfully the Preservica marketing team presumed the worst and armed me with enough prizes of champagne and chocolates to distract from any of my initial slip-ups!

With the 60 second gauntlet out of the way, there was time to jump into some of the break-out sessions and network with the other delegates about the common themes and challenges that they are facing and the role Preservica can play in supporting and simplifying their long-term records preservation.

With barely time to take a breath, Andrea Wignall (Records Manager at the Department of Health and Social Care) and I took to the stage to present a keynote on the DHSC/Preservica project “Migrate Decommission Preserve – a Journey Through a Content Management Decommissioning Project”.

The project itself is one of learning, collaboration and communication and had such incredible results to the department that you would be forgiven for thinking the following numbers were made up:

7 Key Conference Themes Defining the Future of the Information Management Industry

Having been attending the annual event for the last five years, it has been interesting to see the evolution of the Records Management, Information Management, and now Knowledge Management roles and the rising importance that they play within digital transformation, privacy, and security landscape. This is largely underpinned by many organisations' recent or impending move to Microsoft Office 365 and the advantages this will bring them and some of the challenges it will leave in the wake of such change.

The following themes stood out to me throughout the entire IRMS conference:

  1. The Migration Challenge: Data and information migrations are a key part of all M365 projects.
  2. SharePoint for Records Management: Organisations have now accepted SharePoint being used for records management and are looking at how to deal with a lack of existing policies for retention.
  3. The Importance of Cross-Departmental Collaboration: Bringing people with you on these projects from across the organisation and how to communicate the benefits via advocates and champions.
  4. Protecting Sensitive Data: Data Privacy is a big consideration, especially if content is being retained over the long term.
  5. The Move to Support Remote Business: Microsoft Teams has been a huge driver of M365 adoption, its increased use, and the volume records due to the pandemic.
  6. Moving Beyond Technology Projects: These are information management projects and not just a technology project.
  7. The Value of Experience: The value of experienced consultants used in all projects.

What does it all mean?

Digital transformation is alive and kicking and cloud-based content and records systems such as M365 are affecting real-world benefits for all sorts of organisations, but in doing so are discovering new potential issues around the governance of long-term data. Records, Knowledge, and Information Management professionals in this space are rising up to meet these challenges and are actively ironing out the creases as they progress.

As part of this ongoing transformation, Preservica is supporting clients by accelerating embedded preservation where they are creating, using, and sharing their content - within M365. Throughout the conference, the theme was clear that M365 is, and will continue to be an integral part of modern information management. Therefore, digital preservation needs to be embedded within those environments, so long-term preservation can be something organisations can plan for and easily enable at the point of record creation - Active Digital Preservation integrated into your ECM or M365 environments.

It’s only a short hop until the next IRMS event, May 2022 this time in bonnie Scotland (Glasgow) with the theme “Resilience Recovery Renewal” and we can’t wait!