On September 10, the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) hosted an interactive panel discussion to educate solution providers, vendors, and the broader records management community on an opportunity to help shape the future of records management (RM) inside government. A follow-up activity to the August 2012 Presidential Directive on RM, this panel is a call to action to software vendors, consultants, and subject matter experts who care about moving the records profession in public sector out of the “mental model” of paper.
Important links include: the agenda (PDF) and the two-part event recording, hosted on the NARA UStream External Engagement channel, and the RFI (closes October 4, 2013).
My take? If you are a software vendor, consultant, records management practitioner, or a software developer looking for inspiration, listen to the videos. There is some important stuff there, with the US federal government demonstrating some true leadership in rethinking the oft-maligned records management software system. What does NARA want? Fresh systems, more automation, and a readiness to divorce from the construct of paper that has limited our progress in tackling e-records.
The discussion and sense of urgency here supports the trends and we’re seeing here at Forrester in this area. (See recommended reports and blog links at the bottom of this post.) Our research shows that RM programs today struggle to get consistent user adoption, align related initiatives (like RM, archiving, and eDiscovery), capture new content sources like social and mobile, and get over fear of the cloud.
Today OASIS announced official approval of version 1.1 of the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) standard. OASIS is the nonprofit, international consortium behind many of the key technology standards in areas related to information management, cloud, privacy, and security.
I’ve been keenly watching the development and adoption of CMIS since its early beginnings in 2006 as an idea incubated by the AIIM iECM standards committee, and then moved to the stewardship of OASIS in 2008, once a critical mass of major vendor support had coalesced. Interoperability has always been an important requirement for ECM systems, not only because most large organizations have multiple systems, often from different vendors, but because business content needs to move, flow, and be accessible to many other essential line-of-business applications.
Interoperability is also finding renewed purpose as content management moves to the cloud, and content must be accessible to users, devices, and apps regardless of whether it is stored on-premises or in a hosted repository. According to the OASIS press release, “CMIS frees content trapped in traditional ‘content silos’ and facilitates ‘content in the cloud’ and mobile computing.”
A few weeks ago I read a blog post by Seth Godin and it hit me like a ton of bricks: Records management is a skeuomorph. I confess, I had never heard of the term “skeuomorphism” until just a few months ago. I learned the word via blogs and tech articles discussing design trends in mobile.
What is a skeuomorph? A simple definition (courtesy of academic George Basalla, via Wikipedia) is “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material.”
In other words, every time we pick up an iPad and download our digital “book” on an electronic “shelf” painted with virtual wood stain – we are engaging with a skeuomorph – like this one:
Since joining Forrester this year, I’ve had the opportunity to get briefed on the RM offerings of many ECM and information governance vendors, and with just a few exceptions, there are some unmistakable common threads I see across products. Top of that list? A user experience that has lifted the paradigm of paper and plopped it on top of an electronic records repository.