Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gartner: growing need for digital archivists

Here's an interesting tidbit: information technology research and consulting firm Gartner predicts that evolving business needs will compel enterprise IT managers to fill four emerging information management roles -- either by establishing new positions within their units and expanding their recruitment pools or by establishing alliances within the enterprise:

Business Information Managers who can manage the operations of both a business unit and the IT that supports the unit.

Enterprise Information Architects who can add structure and context and thus increase the efficiency and reusability of information resources.

Legal/IT Hybrids who can create "policies and schedules, help design and execute discovery exercises for regulators, and mediate between legal and IT departments." Records managers, in particular, ought to pay attention to this one: according to Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Debra Logan
IT leaders with responsibility for information management have been in a stalemate for more than five years over what to do about legacy information, how long information should be kept, and what the legal precedent is for doing so . . . . The lawyers won't tell companies what to do, but they won't listen to anyone but other lawyers. The records managers want to implement retention schedules as they did in the paper world, and IT departments just want someone to tell them what to do with all the e-mail that is bringing their exchange servers to their knees and all the personal folders clogging the storage devices.
Logan anticipates that security personnel who get some legal retraining or attorneys who receive some IT training will fill this role, which of course begs the question of what will happen to records managers. Will they be able to upskill by taking both IT and legal training, or will the IT professionals and the attorneys gradually eclipse them? As someone who firmly believes that records managers possess a distinctive and valuable perspective and set of skills, I'm firmly hoping for the former.

Digital archivists will "appraise, arrange and preserve digital records for legal and regulatory purposes," and -- check this out, all you electronic records archivists and info science grad students -- Gartner projects that by 2012, approximately 15 percent of corporations will "add someone in a digital-archivist role"; in 2009, less than 1 percent of companies did so. According to Debra Logan, the need for digital archivists is great:
Organisations typically have vast quantities of records, which require specialist expertise to access, appraise and preserve . . . . This isn't a job for conscientious users to perform if they have time; it requires training and expertise. If you have never heard of persistent uniform resource locators (PURLs), don't know what PREservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies (PREMIS) is and are unaware that there are reasons why Portable Document Format (PDF) is not a suitable preservation format for e-mail, you need a digital curator.
Gartner explicitly notes that candidates for digital archivist positions "can be found in library and information science (LIS) schools." If its projections pan out, those of you in grad school might start seeing more and more corporate recruitment efforts. Interestingly, Gartner notes that "existing employees nearing the end of their careers" might also make good digital archivists, so those of us already actively involved in electronic records and digital curation work might find that our professional literature is getting more and more attention -- and that seasoned IT professionals are turning up in LIS courses and continuing education workshops.

The next few years are going to be really interesting, aren't they? I'm kind of looking forward to it.

Sorry for the light blogging as of late, folks: I was sidelined by a nasty cold last week. Now that I'm starting to feel better, you'll see a little more activity around here.

1 comment:

Naats said...

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