Last spring, Forrester introduced the concept of retention management, which extends records management to all content from creation through long-term retention and destruction (check out the Retention Management document).Seems simple enough, but with so many repositories of information (hard drives, network file shares, SharePoint sites, email servers and archives, and any number of managed repositories) extending retention policies to all of it is all but impossible.
To get a sense of how organizations address retention management, I reached out to approximately 300 companies for a research interview, figuring maybe 10 would be willing to speak about what they are doing.In an indication of how hot the topic is, over 30 companies wanted to speak further.Having conducted about half the interviews so far, it’s clear we are at the very beginning of the learning curve for retention management.
Something really big is happening. Many companies and even software vendors aren’t aware of it because they’re so busy trying to get their arms around content—put it in repositories, integrate the repositories, manage corporate records, get people to stop emailing documents around—that they’re way too busy to see the ground shifting underneath their feet. This groundswell is about putting content to work—and that means, quite simply, doing something with the content that’s being managed so it creates business advantage.
For years, enterprises, vendors, integrators, consultants and others (including me) have strived mightily to get content under control. It’s still a massive problem: there’s so much content — written documents, presentations, email, web pages, spreadsheets, graphics, videos, podcasts . . . the list goes on — and it’s in every filing cabinet, drawer, hard disk and memory stick. Even today, after years of investing in document imaging, document management, collaboration, and web content management systems, most content is not locked down, versioned and searchable using metadata or tags. But it’s time to move on — “simply” (that’s a laugh) managing content isn’t enough.