Though the notion and schema of information management has been around since the dawn of information itself recently there has been an uptick in discussions and focus. Much of this is due to two things: One, the volume of information organizations deal with exponentially increases almost daily. Two, the nature of information has radically shifted from not only a physical to digital state but in the digital state information is now viewed as independent of the vehicle in which it is carried. For instance, information was once seen as contained in a record or document but now it can exist in formats with definitions that do not fit into those categories – take Google Wave for one very recent example.
The legal field with its ubiquitous ediscovery has found that though perfecting ediscovery may be a worthy and valuable notation, the soundness of the process actually rests on what condition the information is in prior to inducting it into the ediscovery process. That is, ediscovery is a “use” of information and not the “management” of it. This inevitably takes the discussion to how to manage information in the first instance so that ediscovery and the myriad of other uses –from business intelligence to audit reporting – are more effective and perhaps more important – cost effective.
There are many groups and scholars that have discussed information management over the decades – scan the archives of Harvard Business Review for a quick tally. Recently, however the legal community has begun to grapple with this as it takes its earned knowledge form the ediscovery world and brings it to the larger problem.
The question ultimately posed by such groups as EDRM and The Sedona conference – both of whom have begun initiatives on this front – is can this community of legal scholars, practitioners, and experts comprehensively address and answer the problem of how organizations are to best manage their information?
As co-author of a Working Draft paper by The Sedona Conference, I and the other authors toiled with this question almost a year ago as we began to formulate ideas and methods to address the issue. Just today as part of the EDRM project, I sat in on the IMRM (Information Management Reference Model) meeting that was dealing with this very issue. The IMRM has been in existence for at least six months but the EDRM project has been tinkering with the idea for more than five years. Their initial thoughts came out of constructing the first box in the EDRM – Information Management. Being the first box in the EDRM chart, this group obviously sees the ediscovery process starting here. And it does.
Given that two reputable groups within the legal arena are tackling this issue the broad question of if they can indeed answer the problem remains to be seen. For Sedona’s part, we discussed the initial draft of the paper last week at the ARMA conference in Orlando and look to have public commentary on it in the near future. As for EDRM (IMRM) we are in the beginning stages and look to provide material that is unique yet complimentary to the recent efforts of others.