Wake Up! ARMA Canada

Alarm-ClockI just spent the last few days (May 25th – 27th) at the ARMA Canada conference in Calgary. As you’d expect it was great to get together with people that I typically only engage with online. But that’s not the reason I go through the effort and expense of attending. I come to this and other conferences to learn and see what’s new, and maybe make some new connections (that whole networking thing). Unless there’s something really compelling (there wasn’t, for me) I do much of my learning on the trade show floor rather than by attending sessions. I try to figure out what’s new, innovative, and exciting by talking to the vendors and attendees.

  • What’s new? Other than RSD’s first appearance (I think) at ARMA Canada, nothing really.
  • What’s innovative? Nothing really.
  • What’s exciting? Nothing really.

The problem seems to be that the Records Management community is not evolving with the times. Sure, they say “information governance”, but I’m not convinced they know what it means or what the implications are. They talk about social media, but do they use it (there was actually a session during which they were taught to tweet). They talk about cloud but then do nothing about it other than give in to the boogie man prognostications. Shit! Even the younger RM folks are sounding like the older ones who are close to retiring.

Based on what I saw and heard at the conference, I hold no optimism that the state of Records and Information Management will join the 21st century any time soon. RIM professionals are complaining about not being given the dues and respect they deserve (and they DO deserve it) but they have to take it, not wait for it to be handed out. ARMA Canada as an association is not helping. They’ve had pretty much the same content, speakers, and vendors since I went to my first conference in 2008. Yes, the names have changed, but you know what I mean.

I’m not sure how, but ARMA Canada needs to freshen things up a bit. Dump the vendors that do nothing but SharePoint stuff or physical records management; that stuff hasn’t changed since the shelf was invented. Attract vendors that represent the new way of doing business and are influencing and enabling digital transformation of business. Solicit speakers that want to do more than talk about how to build another functional file plan or how to implement an ECM platform. ARMA Canada needs a slate of speakers and vendors that represent a balance of what today’s realities are, and what the very near future will hold for managing information.

I’ll wait until I see what the agenda for next year’s conference is, but if it’s pretty much like this year’s this is likely my last ARMA Canada conference for a while. And if things don’t change fast, the RIM profession will be further marginalized, and I’ll likely contribute to the further marginalization; not because we dislike RIM and RIM professionals, but because the rest of us have to move forward to succeed.

Just to add a little positivity …

Over dinner with a friend of mine I got a good look at Oracle’s Document Cloud (I think that’s the name). It’s Oracle’s offering to the EFSS (I HATE that name) market. It’s really, really slick. The version I saw (not sure if it’s generally available yet) looks as easy to use as Box (which is what I use for my business). I know a couple of things about where Oracle is going with it, but not a ton. One thing that I do really like about it is that it sits on top of Oracle Web Center Content so all the security, metadata, workflow, and retention are taken care of. By the way, for those of you who care; Oracle’s Web Center Content is likely the best kept secret amongst ECM platforms. It’s a secret because Oracle really sucks at marketing it.

A few people asked me about the PHIGs (Principles of Holistic Information Governance) that I put together a couple of years ago; you can download them here.

Image taken from http://www.a-tips-of-life.com/tag/awake/

15 Comments on “Wake Up! ARMA Canada

  1. I totally agree with your message and hope that ARMA International reads your message too. I did not attend the Canadian conference this year but plan to attend the Int’l one this Fall.


    • Thanks, Irene.

      I’m really concerned that RIM and RIM professionals won’t be taken as seriously as they should be when it comes to their proper place in organizations. As far as I’m concerned, RIM ought to be involved in leading the digital transformation of business.


  2. You are correct that as RIM we have to take control and take the respect we are due. I was once told a volunteer could do my job so I immediately had a local paper come in and talk to me about my job and what I did. Don’t know if it truly made a difference but we have to do all we can.

    I cannot believe there was a session on how to tweet …


    • Hi Angela

      I’m not certain if I should be encouraged by your story or not, but good for you.

      I don’t think the original intent of the session was to teach RIM professionals how to tweet, but that’s what ended up happening.



  3. Harsh, but probably a fair assessment and not very encouraging for the professional, because like you I believe the need for RM will not and has not gone away.

    I wonder whether it is the same for RM accross the world. Being from Europe, I do so ARMA International mails quite regularly and new faces a lot, maybe because the organization across here is newer ?


    • If the agenda for the IRMS conference is indicative of European focus, then I’d say RIM on your side of the ocean is ahead of Canada and the U.S.

      The need for RM is more critical now than ever before; there’s more to manage and more at stake.


  4. Sadly I would agree with you on most points. As you know, I was a speaker. Probably one of the few who spoke on technologies such as assisted and auto-classification. A number of individuals in my session commented that there should be more similar sessions. I truly agree that if we (RIM) professionals do not evolve, we will be phased out (aka “Evolve or Die” as Julie Colgan past pres of ARMA Int spoke in her last ARMA keynote)


    • Your session was one of the bright points of the conference, along with Jim Amsler’s session (note that I didn’t get to either so I am going by what I read and heard). Those kinds of sessions are what the industry needs more of. It seems to me that so many RIM professionals are scared of becoming irrelevant, to they point that they freeze and guarantee their irrelevancy. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      As for Julie, she wrote a brilliant post for AIIM back in 2011; too bad the comments vanished (I blame AIIM for that): http://community.aiim.org/blogs/julie-colgan/2011/01/22/retention-needs-an-enema


  5. The unstructured content and records management industry has never been more needed, but it needs to be unified with the CIO-related functional stream and merge conversation with the IT infrastructure and application strategy. Putting content away from infrastructure within the org structure isolates the function if it’s not staffed with leaders to help drive the conversation with other internal functional leaders. There are a few too many reactive personalities in our discipline similar to the problems the Human Resources discipline is experiencing.


    • Part of the issue is that RIM is NOT an industry. RIM is a profession that serves industries and businesses. In order for RIM to remain viable, RIM professionals have to treat information assets the way that finance and accounting professionals treat financial assets.


      • I don’t agree with RIM being considered only a profession. There are plenty of independent content management products and services companies that are staffed with people in some roles that aren’t even involved in the RIM professional discipline. So there is an industry out there. I also don’t agree RIM “serves”. Content management is needed for business to even happen, as every piece of business in any industry generates information (and most of it, unstructured). Organizations choose to either manage it or they don’t. An analogy to the need for a Finance function is appropriate. Which RIM professionals are not taking business content as analogously serious as Finance is to money?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: