Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Ensuring Successful Electronic Records Implementation

Consider the following facts.  According to an AIIM survey[1] only 16% of organizations surveyed have implemented an enterprise-wide electronic records management strategy.  9% of respondents indicated that they have implemented electronic records management system across the whole organization. 
At the same time the volume, velocity and variety of information continue to accelerate exponentially.  A recent report by IDC[2]  found that in 2009 the total volume of digital information was 800 exabytes and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 40%.  More than 80% of incremental investment in storage capacity is required to store duplicate data due to ineffective record retention and disposition practices.  
Knowledge workers are expected to spend 30 to 40 percent of their time managing documents up from 20% in 1997.  Audit and legal costs continue to increase.  It is estimated that on average the cost of culling, de duping and processing responsive documents to e-discovery requests is $18,000 per gigabyte of information reviewed.  It is further estimated that labour costs for finding a misfiled document is $120. 
Today’s digital economy is estimated to be $24 trillion, representing approximately 14% of all goods and services flowing through the global economy. Information has become the currency of exchange.  In order to harness its strategic value it must be effectively managed.  Yet investment in records management remains low on corporate priorities.  40% of respondents to the AIIM survey indicated that the main reason for ineffective record keeping best practices is due to lack of top level executive commitment. 
Implementation of effective recordkeeping best practices must be an imperative given the opportunity costs and compliance risks. What ought to be the common characteristics of an effective records management implementation strategy?  What are the factors to defensible disposition? What should be the measurable performance indicators for a successful records management implementation?  These are questions often asked, yet the answers remain elusive.  Surprisingly, there are some rather critical considerations that apply to all EDRMS projects, regardless of the nature of the organization – private or public institutions, or the size of the project. Recently Bruce Miller, Founder and President of www.rimtech.ca summarized six key strategies that should be considered for a successful records management implementation.  His article was published in Canadian Government Executive.  The link to the article can be found here. 
CORADIX will continue with its educational and thought leadership program in the area of information management best practices. Over the course of the past year we have delivered a number of complimentary seminars and workshops on subjects relating to information governance, data management, electronic records management, and in partnership with www.aiim.org  ECM certification programs.  These courses included ECM Practitioner Certification for Microsoft SharePoint and ECM Practitioner and Master Certification programs.  These workshops are delivered by AIIM certified trainers with in-depth expertise in ECM technologies and best practices with specific experience in Government of Canada ECM and records management projects.  The Microsoft SharePoint Practitioner training is delivered by David Wu with in-depth Microsoft SharePoint implementation experience within the Canadian Federal Government. The ECM Practitioner and Master training courses were delivered by Cheryl McKinnon the principal of www.candystrategies.com with particular focus on the ECM field and is a recognized subject matter expert in the areas of digital content creation, governance and content life cycle management best practices.
We will continue to build on these programs in the new year.  Our calendar of activities will include an innovative complimentary seminar –Information Management @ Work ™ that will focus on information governance, classification strategies, records management implementation best practices for Open Text Content Server, Microsoft SharePoint and hybrid implementations.  We are also planning to bring to our clients and consultant network the AIIM Certified Information Professional Certification program   (http://www.aiim.org/Training/Certification). We are planning to hold a one day workshop in Ottawa that will empower you to write and successfully earn the designation of Certified Information Professional (CIP). We will continue to deliver in partnership with www.rimtech.ca workshops on electronic record keeping best practices.

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[1] AIIM: Records Management Strategies, 2011
[2] IDC: "The digital universe decade—Are you ready?," May 2010
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Monday, 5 November 2012

Federated Records Management – is it a viable alternative to centralized records management?

The unabated proliferation of content and EDRMS applications that manage it poses a daunting challenge from a records management perspective. Should records be managed in one central environment or should they be federated across disparate content management repositories?  An AIIM research paper on the State of the ECM Industry found that on average 40% of organizations have three or more EDRMS systems deployed. 74% of organizations surveyed use SharePoint for collaboration.  While SharePoint continues to improve its records management functionality, 44%  of organizations are deploying it in conjunctions with more robust ECM applications with a proven heritage in records management capabilities that meet  rigorous RM standards such as ICA Module 2 and DoD5015.2.
There are a number of trade-offs to be considered in assessing the merits of centralized versus federated records management approach.  In a centralized or unified RM implementation there is “one system of record” where all records are classified, declared and where retention and disposition rules are managed.  In a federated RM implementation records are maintained in "their” native repositories, but manage them centrally. That way, the records do not need to be physically moved into a single location, yet a single set of retention rules can be applied. Records are ‘virtualized’ so that they all appear to be within the federated records management application, from which they can be searched, placed on hold, or acted on in other ways.”   A clear benefit of a federated records management approach is that it empowers organizations to preserve existing investments in EDRMS systems.
On the other hand the challenge posed by federated records management is harmonizing or orchestrating records management functions between disparate EDRMS repositories. Such coordination necessitates a high degree of process automation.  “Federated technology will use software algorithms to determine when a document becomes a record. The overall goal is to automate the human judgment and discipline that can make recordkeeping work properly”. Harmonization of meta-data and classification rules need to be effectively implemented in order to avoid inconsistent retention schedules which may result in loss of confidence in disposition processes.
The total cost of ownership associated with a federated records management approach may be prohibitive as well as too complex to maintain given the need for different EDRMS application software expertise. In such as case it may be prudent to opt for a unified records management approach.   In this scenario a single EDRMS repository manages documents, applies the retention and disposition schedules and processes.  There may be two possible approaches. One, to deploy a single EDRMS platform that manages end-to-end content life cycle processes including records.  The other option is a hybrid solution where there may be more than one EDRMS applications deployed however only one is designated as a formal system of record.  Documents deemed as records are “moved” to a centralized RIM repository. For example SharePoint may be used as a team collaboration platform where transitory documents are authored, versioned, shared and processed.   Once a document is deemed as a record it is profiled, declared and classified to the “records center” and from there moved to the RIM application where formal retention and disposition rules are applied and managed.
A hybrid records management implementation strategy is under consideration within the Government of Canada. While Open Text Content Server 2010 is the sanctioned EDRMS platform several departments have also deployed SharePoint as a collaboration platform. In order to preserve such investments while complying with the Government of Canada functional requirements for record keeping based on the ICA Module 2 standard departments are exploring the merits of a hybrid solution.
Bruce Miller of www.rimtech.ca has recently released a comprehensive study endorsed by Open Text which provides best practices associated with a hybrid RIM implementation based on OpenText’s solution called AGA, or Application Governance & Archiving.  AGA allows the two platforms to be integrated. The report may be accessed here.
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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Measuring the Performance of the Electronic Records Management Program

Too often organizations fail to establish tangible performance metrics to support electronic records management implementation initiatives.   A recent AIIM research found that such absence of metrics result in a lack of top down executive commitment to approve funding for electronic records management projects.[1]  The same research found that rapidly escalating regulatory compliance and e-discovery costs notwithstanding only 9% of organizations surveyed have an enterprise-wide electronic records management strategy and systems in place.[2]  There may be a number of reasons for such a poor enterprise records management adoption trend. For one many organizations tend to have a disproportionate number of disparate document management repositories resulting in a fragmented departmental approach to records management. This may be further compounded by insufficient investments in an enterprise wide information management strategy that strives for a consistent and normalized meta-data model for all corporate information assets. There may be lack of clarity as to what dimensions of electronic records management implementations ought to be measured.  One may focus on efficiency metrics associated with how the electronic records management system performs in terms of declaration, classification rates, retrieval times and disposition. Or one may focus on the outcomes associated with electronic records implementation measured in terms of tangible ROI such as lower physical storage space costs, reduced e-discovery costs or intangible measures such as improved constituency services. However organizational alignment and executive support are imperative determinants to the success of an effective electronic records management program. As one noted authority observed “Many EDRMS projects are “led from the middle”, making them highly susceptible to failure. Without senior management endorsement, the prioritisation of the project and provision of resources required over the typical 12 to 30 month timespan – both of which are prerequisites to success – have a high probability of being withdrawn. Senior managers generally support the idea of good recordkeeping and compliance, but do not know what is involved and do not understand the productivity that is unleashed by a successful project. At the other end of the spectrum, users tend to see an EDRMS project as just another compliance driven, administrative burden with little personal benefit. Getting engagement up and down the hierarchy is therefore fundamental to the success of an EDRMS implementation.”

Recently Bruce Miller of www.rimtech.ca has provided very useful guidance relating to successful electronic records management implementation best practices.  The link to the article is here and it will also appear in Canadian Government Executive. 

[1] Records Management Strategies, AIIM 2011: “A lack of commitment at the highest levels is the most likely reason that organizations have no records management system, either by default, or by not seeing sufficient need to invest the money.”
[2] Records Management Strategies, AIIM 2011: “A lack of commitment at the highest levels is the most likely reason that organizations have no records management system, either by default, or by not seeing sufficient need to invest the money.”
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Monday, 17 September 2012

Strategic Analytics: The Final Frontier for “Enterprise” Data

Blog Author: Rod MacPherson

Sorry for the bad pun. I have been blogging recently about the incredible achievements of NASA nailing the landing of the latest Mars Rover- Curiosity. After a journey of 350,000,000 miles, it landed within 1.5 miles of its target. The jubilation in mission control was unconfined, as the team of mission monitors and engineers openly celebrated the successful milestone in the life of Curiosity- which is expected to relay a constant stream of data about the sustainability of life on the red planet back to earth over its anticipated 2 year lifetime. (although who knows- Voyager 1 is STILL relaying data- a journey that takes 17 hours, traveling at the speed of light from the extreme edges of our galaxy) If you want see where Voyager is, click here. When I last checked, it was 18 billion kilometers from earth. I digress.
If we think about that critical moment in mission control- when NASA personnel learned of the successful touchdown, a mere 15 minutes after the event- you realize that they have mastered the art of analytics. Not just about what has happened- but what was going to be happening (given the lag- and the need to adjust- they needed predicative indicators to make adjustments). They knew what they needed to know, and when they needed to know it. They had designed their data pipeline to provide the most critical information, in the most-timely fashion within practical limits of electro-magnetic physics as we understand it and our current understanding of quantum mechanics. If only we could do the same for our enterprise data.
The reality is - we can. Today’s leaders are often misled and discouraged by the current realities of information management and their cynicism about what information is practically available, when, and to what degree of reliability. This cynicism does not arise from the promise of what we as data management professionals are doing and promoting - they arise from the historical prejudice associated with IT and its excessive failure rate.
Strategic Analytics (and especially the predictive ones) that help decision-makers understand where the organization is going, not just where it has been, offers the greatest potential for organizations seeking to lever the enterprise data and big data social analytics in the most effective manner possible. Wayne Gretzky, perhaps the greatest hockey player of all time said it best perhaps. "I don't skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it’s going".
For the data management professional, our ability to help the C-Level understand where the organization is going is probably the single biggest opportunity to prove and validate the value proposition of enhanced data management practices. For those of us designing and implementing strategic analytic solutions- we know that architected, reliable, qualified, relevant and timely data is the only way to do this.
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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Open Data is Driving Enhanced Data Management Practices in Government


Blog Author: Rod MacPherson

We recently hosted an Executive Breakfast Seminar on Open Data at the offices of CORADIX and were pleasantly surprised by the greater than expected turnout by senior government personnel wanting to learn more about the risk, challenges, opportunities and benefits of Canada's Open Government Action Plan.  (see data.gc.ca)

Like many other jurisdictions, including 30 countries, and hundreds of municipal and provincial level government organizations, Canada followed the lead of the United States, who launched its' open data portal in 2009. (see data.gov)  Starting with the release of just a few hundred datasets, the Open Data movement in government entities around the world has led to the release of literally million's of data sets on all topics ranging from socio-economic data and geo-spatial datasets to extensive details on government operations.

The Canadian approach to Open Government relies on 3 pillars. Open Data, Open Information and Open Dialog. Open Data is about offering government data in a more useful format to enable citizens, the private sector and non-government organizations to leverage it in innovative and value-added ways.  Open Information  is about proactively releasing information, including on government activities, to Canadians on an ongoing basis. By proactively making government information available it will be easier to find and more accessible for Canadians. Open Dialogue, which is about giving Canadians a stronger say in government policies and priorities, and expanding engagement through Web 2.0 technologies. (my next blog will talk about why Canada differentiates between Open Information and Open Data)

For many in the room, the session was a sobering sort of wake-up call, as I pointed out to participants the obvious risks associated with releasing open data sets such as the liabilities and potential embarrassment associated with releasing erroneous data, to the not-so apparent risks such as foreign intelligence organizations combining disparate data sets in such a way as to expose national security vulnerabilities. (the example I used was a case where a vulnerability was exposed by comparing weather data with emergency response statistics and geo-spatial data - resulting in the ability to predict the impact of threatening weather on the security apparatus)  In addition to the direct risks from the data itself, we also discussed the potential political risks of government-wide releases of certain datasets, that because they lack a common architecture and meta-data standards. Exposing these practices (or lack thereof) could create additional workload and embarrassment for the stewards responsible for those datasets- and more significantly for the political apparatus behind it.

While there was much discussion around the downsides, there was also widespread acknowledgement of the benefits and opportunities, the most significant of which was enabling the constituent citizens and industry to generate economic advantage and innovation by leveraging the rich datasets now freely accessible.

For data management practitioners - the Open Data imperative provides the perfect business case- and timing to introduce enhanced data management practices in government sector organizations.  Data Management professionals need to be front and centre in these initiatives, putting in place to practices to ensure that Open Data sets are consistently architected, described and delivered with a defensible and competent approach to ensuring their quality. Data stewards need to be clearly identifiable as they will become the focal point for departments and agencies being faced with questions and challenges about their data. Finally, as always, none of these things are going to happen without an effective governance mechanism to ensure that these practices are being properly employed.

To us as data management professionals, we have always understood the compelling value proposition of improved data management practices for all organizations- however the lack of customer focus, and a profit imperative has made it difficult to convince government decision-makers to direct more investment in this area. The Open Data imperative breathes considerable new life into the strength of imperative; the time has come for us to "Carpe diem".
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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Integrating OpenText Content Server 2010 with SharePoint 2010

By: Bruce Miller, RIMtech Inc.

As we all know, OpenText Content Server 2010 (CS 2010) is mandated as the EDRMS platform for electronic recordkeeping at the Government of Canada. Shared Services Canada (SSC) has developed a more or less standardized implementation of CS 2010, known as GCDocs, which Treasure Board hopes will be rolled out at some larger departments within the next year or so.

Many of these same large departments have also implemented SharePoint 2010 as a platform for collaboration and document production. However, SharePoint cannot be used to manage Government of Canada Records. SharePoint is non-compliant with GC recordkeeping requirements (see this report). CS 2010 is mandated for recordkeeping use, yet SharePoint is increasingly being deployed for collaboration. Departments with both platforms are going to need a way to somehow use CS 2010 to manage the records they produce and store in SharePoint.

Enter OpenText’s new solution called AGA, or Application Governance & Archiving. AGA allows the two platforms to be integrated such that records in SharePoint can be moved (archived) to CS 2010 to be managed as records in a fully compliant recordkeeping environment. AGA is a core component of OpenText`s Better Together strategy for integration with Microsoft products.

AGA is a sophisticated offering that allows a document to be moved from SharePoint to CS 2010 where it can be managed as a record. It provides for manual (what OpenText calls “Interactive”) and Process-driven (what OpenText calls “Automatic”) modes of operation. There are no less than 6 different ways and means of transferring documents to CS 2010, depending on how SharePoint is being used, and whether or not the document is a record.

The product is extremely thoroughly designed and well thought through. Keep in mind that a document is not just a document in a modern EDRMS platform such as SharePoint or CS 2010. A document has security permissions, metadata, and audit data associated with it. Each of the two platforms has a different format and protocol for each of these three critical document elements. Therefore it’s not as simple as it might sound to just “move” a document from one to the other. To their credit, OpenText has taken all of these compatibility differences into account. This can make the integration of the two rather complex at times, due to the platform differences that must be accounted for, which leads to a rather dizzying number of integration permutations that must be handled.

The bottom line is that the tool is sufficiently comprehensive to get the job done. Thanks to AGA there is a way that a department’s SharePoint records can be managed via CS 2010. The job of the Records Manager just got a little more complex and a little trickier for sure, but welcome to the modern world of EDRMS!

Bruce Miller
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Friday, 20 July 2012

Recent Supreme Court of Canada Copyright Decisions Pave the Way for Research and Innovation by Expanding the Ambit of Fair Use

Copyright law is designed to strike a careful balance between the property rights of authors in their original works and the public interest rights to foster economic and social progress [1]. Historically, copyright jurisprudence tended to favor the economic interest of authors by narrowly defining the scope of available defences to copyright infringement claims.  Recently however the defence of fair use has been the subject of heightened judicial analysis [2] in CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, where the Supreme Court of Canada laid out a two pronged test for the determination of a valid fair dealing defence to copyright infringement pursuant to section 29 of the Copyright Act.  The first prong of the test is a determination of the purported infringing action – can it be construed as “research or private study”, or “criticism or review” ,or does it constitute “news reporting”? In the event that the impugned infringing activity meets the first prong of the test then the second enquiry looks at factors such as “the purpose, character, and amount of the dealing; the existence of any alternatives to the dealing; the nature of the work; and the effect of the dealing on the work” to determine if in fact the appropriation of the work may be construed as “fair dealing”.

The increased focus on re-balancing competing copyright interests is largely driven by the juxtaposition of globalization and the growth of the digital economy[3]   There are those who argue[4] that the current copyright regime is based on eighteenth century concepts of property rights that advocated “artificial scarcity…and by analog limitations on copying,”. The digital economy on the other hand makes copying infinitely easier resulting in the “democratization” of content.
So what constitutes fair use in the context of the fast paced and transformative digital economy?  The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on a series of five copyright cases that legal analysts believe may re-balance copyright law by tilting it more toward the public interest. The five cases address a wide spectrum of vexing problems that span copying textbooks, music downloading and place limits on the application of tariffs which regulators such as the Copyright Board may levy. Michael Geist a leading legal expert commented that in these decisions [5] “the court has delivered an undisputed win for fair dealing that has positive implications for education and innovation, while striking a serious blow to copyright collectives such as Access Copyright” and that” the court has recognized that innovation...is crucial to the economy…” These cases have held that cable companies and internet providers are not required to pay royalties for music downloads as it is tantamount to sampling merchandize before consumers decide on what to purchase, that school boards are not required to pay tariffs on selective copying of materials from textbooks  designed for study and research purposes.. Of particular significance of these decisions is the liberal interpretation of the meaning of “research” which “can include many activities that do not demand the establishment of new facts or conclusions. It can be piecemeal, informal, exploratory, or confirmatory. It can in fact be undertaken for no purpose except personal interest…”

These decisions affirm that there is greater good in expanding fair use to copying that may otherwise be protectable copyright in light of the rapid advancement of the digital economy. A broader interpretation of fair use can accelerate innovation and foster economic opportunity.  As the Oxford Economic Report on the New Digital Economy observed “ the new digital playing field has all but obliterated the old working models for the music, publishing and field industries…With information becoming a commodity…firms are switching from subscription fees to “freemium” pricing that combines free services with paid-for subscription services…” 

The Government of Canada  is placing increased emphasis on the strategic value of data characterizing it as  “Canada’s new natural resource”[6].  As an integral part of the Action Plan on Open Government[7] open data aims to provide “raw data available in machine readable format to citizens, governments, not for profit and private sector organizations to leverage it in innovative and value added ways.”  This contemplates the implementation of a licensing scheme that removes the current restrictive application of section 12 of the Copyright Act that protects Crown Copyright including compilations of data. A proposed “universal open government license” is designed to remove such restrictions and the recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions in expanding the fair sue doctrine may further accelerate the process. 

[1] Th├ęberge v. Galerie d’Art du Petit Champlain inc., 2002 SCC 34, The Copyright Act is usually presented as a balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of works of the arts
and intellect and obtaining a just reward for the creator (or, more accurately, to prevent someone other than the creator from appropriating whatever benefits may be generated
[2] CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, [2004]
[3] The New Digital Economy How it will transform business, Oxford Economics, 2011 the total size of digital economy is estimated at $20.4 trillion, equivalent to roughly 13.8% of all sales flowing through the world economy.
[4] How to Fix Copyright, Bill Patry Oxford University Press
[5] ESAC v. SOCAN, Rogers v. SOCAN, SOCAN v. Bell - song previews, Alberta v. Access Copyright, Re:Sound
[6] Tony Clement, July 12, 2012, Winnipeg Free Press
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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Must Read: A Technology Manifesto for the Cloud, Mobile and Social Media

John Mancini President of AIIM (www.aiim.org) has just published a thought provoking book Occupy IT Book that is a must read for information professionals. Written in a highly engaging manner he lays out in simple yet compelling fashion a blue print for how businesses must fully espouse IT innovations inherent in the intersection of cloud, mobile and social media technologies.  The author starts with the following premise: “…in prior decades, new systems were introduced at the very high end of the economic spectrum…Now it is consumers, students and children who are leading the way, with early adopting adults and nimble small to medium size businesses following, and it is the larger institutions who are, frankly, the laggards…”. 

The author makes a compelling argument that the confluence of rapid IT innovation cycles and consumer led mass adoption means that “…what is transpiring is momentous, nothing less than the planet wiring itself a new nervous system. If your organization is not linked into this nervous system, you will be hard pressed to participate in the planet’s future…”. The shift is toward “systems of engagement” with employees, customers, partners and external constituencies interacting in a dynamic and instantaneous manner unencumbered by the constraints posed by legacy systems.   

The author posits the view that “…the inexorable drive toward Systems of Engagement requires that we think radically differently about IT in our organizations…”.  The author’s call for action is in the form of a manifesto for “…creating a framework and a set of imperatives for how we should collectively look at our IT priorities in the era of consumer technologies…”. He calls for five key initiatives; fully embrace cloud based IT architecture, go mobile, transform the business into a social enterprise, remove paper from business processes by digitizing content and prepare for capabilities that extract value from big data. These initiatives call for more agile organizational structures and collaboration between business and IT “…where smaller teams made up of multitaskers and multidimensionally skilled workers with subject matter expertise, business savvy, technology skills, and a range of appropriate interpersonal and “political” skills…”.

The book is not only written in a personalized and engaging manner but is also extremely well researched, with extensive references to empirical studies and research that supports the author’s arguments as well educates the reader. And there is more. There are several chapters that provide a technology primer related to cloud, mobile, social media and records management principles and technologies. 
The book may be downloaded here: Occupy IT Book
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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Striking a balance between Data Privacy Legislation and Charter Rights relating to Freedom of Expression


Within the Canadian constitutional landscape data privacy legislation is arguably within the ambit of both federal and provincial jurisdictions. Under section s 91(2) trade and commerce clause of the Constitution Act of 1867 Parliament of Canada enacted the Personal Information and Protection Act (PIPEDA) which applies to private sector organizations with commercial activities across Canada. At the same time provincial legislatures have also implemented privacy legislations pursuant to s 92(13) property and civil rights provisions of the Constitution Act. While the constitutionality of PIPEDA may be challenged[1] at a future date[2]  there is acknowledgment of shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the provinces. Provinces are exempt from compliance with Part 1 of PIPEDA if provincial privacy legislations are “substantially similar” to obligations relating to the collection, use and disclosure of personal or personally identifiable information.

There is yet another dimension of the tension between provincial and federal jurisdictions that surfaced with the recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision in United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 v Alberta (Attorney General), 2012 ABCA 130.  In this appeal the court was asked to determine whether or not a union’s actions of videotaping individuals who may have crossed picket lines and then posting it to a website are protected by Charter of Rights as freedom of expression or does it infringe upon privacy rights pursuant to the provisions of the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). The court held that while it is of outmost importance to protect individual privacy rights particularly in light of technology advances the definition of personal or personally identifiable information in the Alberta PIPA Act was deemed to too broad and as such encroached upon the equally important right of freedom of expression. The court was particularly concerned about the absence of reasonable limits on what is deemed to constitute personal or personally identifiable information. The court reasoned “that People do not have a right to keep secret everything they do in public, such as crossing picket lines. There is no recognized right to withhold consent to the dissemination of information about unpleasant conduct. Holding people accountable for what they do or do not do in public is a component of the right to free expression.” The court concluded that “While the protection of personal information is important, it is no more important than collective bargaining and the rights of workers to organize.”

This decision may prompt similar challenges with respect to other provincial privacy legislations as well as the Federal PIPEDA legislation. Furthermore this decision brings into focus the role that Information Management plays in the formulation, implementation and measurement of the efficacy relating to the collection, use, disclosure and disposition of personal and personally identifiable information. There are increasing complexities associated with harmonizing competing values in an effort to balance competing interests domestically and also as part of international or cross border obligations relating to the transfer of personal information.  For example the European Union’s Directive on Data Protection prohibits member states from transferring personal data unless the requesting party provides adequate levels of protection in accordance with the provisions of the Directive.  Information Management professionals need to be increasingly more familiar with the complexities associated with multi -jurisdictional privacy regimes, legislation and regulations in order to implement effective business processes to support the collection, use, disclosure and disposition of personal data. Further compounding the challenges faced by IM professionals is the dynamic nature of a constantly evolving privacy landscape.

[1] http://www.teresascassa.ca/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=96:fresh-questions-about-the-constitutionality-of-pipeda?&Itemid=80.  The recent Supreme Court decision in Re Securities Act held that a purported national securities regime was unconstitutional as it encroached upon provincial jurisdiction under section 92(13). The federal government was unable to establish that absence of a national securities regime would undermine consistent administration of securities regulations which the provinces acting alone could not achieve thereby falling within the trade and commerce clause of the Constitution Act. A similar legal argument may be advanced with respect to the constitutionality of PIPEDA.
[2] The Province of Quebec initially challenged but then later abandoned its action. However in light of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Re Securities Act a possible avenue may opened up to future constitutional challenges to PIPEDA.
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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Practical Tools for Measuring the Impact of Social Media Use

A recent AIIM study [1]  found that 51% of respondents consider social media to be an important factor that may contribute to improved customer service levels and productivity.   For example, 48% of organizations surveyed indicated that deployment of social media technologies resulted in improved internal processes such as better collaboration across different functional groups.
While the application of social media in corporate environments is in the early adoption phase there are best practices and tools to assist in the measurement of their value add.   Of particular note is the AIIM Report on “How to Conduct a Social Business Assessment” and the related AIIM social business roadmap[2].  Together these reports provide a framework for how to effectively implement and operationalize the assessment of the value of social media, what information to gather and how to analyze it.  The social media road map lays out a structured approach consisting of eight (8) steps “to help organizations effectively develop social business processes.” These steps include emergence, strategy, development, monitoring, participation, engagement, governance and optimization.   

In the emergent phase the use of social media tends to grow in the absence of formal policy.  Nonetheless, its adoption should be encouraged: “Management should provide visible support through public acknowledgement and recognition, for example by publishing good ideas on the intranet or even by providing material rewards.”  Experimentation in the form of prototyping is useful to “determine whether there is value to its use beyond the novelty or “coolness” factor.”

The strategy and development phases should encompass an assessment of the organizational objectives for the integration of social media technology within legacy IT applications such as identifying target audiences – internal and external, establishing intended outcomes such as direct and indirect benefits measured in terms of increased revenue, decreased operating costs, increased productivity and improved job satisfaction.  The impact of social media should also be taken into consideration.  Will its use foster improved knowledge sharing among employees?  Will it be embraced by management as use of social media tends to challenge traditional organizational hierarchies?  Equally important is an understanding of how the application of social media will impact brand equity with external stakeholders?  How its use will engender improved customer relationships and perceptions about the company?  An overarching consideration is the need for clearly articulated and communicated social media governance that should include social media policy, terms of use, security and privacy considerations.

The challenge in measuring social media effectiveness lies in the monitoring and optimization phases.  What are the relevant metrics?  Are there hard metrics to measure or they are mainly soft metrics such as sentiment analysis, brand perception, customer or constituency satisfaction?   Is there a hard ROI associated with social media?  For instance customer life time value (CLV) measure not only the financial benefits associated with a single purchase but the likelihood of additional services or referrals by a customer as a result of more persistent engagement through the application of social media technologies.  Another useful metric is new customer value (NCV) by tracking conversions from click through to sales.  Or you may measure customer service value (CSV) that tracks customer sentiments monitor responses and interactions.  Social media ROI is then a function of the return on investment which is the sum of life time customer value, new customer value and customer service value less total spend on social media divided by total spend on social media.

The AIIM report concludes that “Organizations need to approach social business processes and technologies formally and methodically in order to ensure their success, just as with any other management project or process.”

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Thursday, 19 April 2012

Open Government: Toward Greater Transparency and Improved Constituency Services

Consistent with the principles espoused by the Open Government Partnership (OPG) [1] the Government of Canada is committed to cultivating greater transparency by focusing on three key strategic pillars:
  • Open Information designed to make it easier for constituents to find and access information by streamlining document and records management life cycle processes and by empowering citizens with single point of access to heterogeneous information sources such as publications, web pages and data from laptops, mobile devices and from tablets; 
  • Open Data, the objective of which is to provide government published datasets in a manner that may be repurposed for both academic research and commercial purposes; and
  • Open Dialogue, the focus of which is to cultivate interactions with constituents by leveraging the ephemeral nature of social media technologies as a means to seek input to and gage constituency sentiments relating to government policies.
Recently the Government of Canada published its Action Plan on Open Government[2] which outlines the go forward strategy for “fostering the principles of open government”. The Action Plan will be reinforced with a Directive on Open Government which is expected to be effective in fiscal 2012-2013. The strategic outcome of the Directive on Open Government is to “provide guidance to 106 federal departments and agencies on what they must do to maximize the availability of online information and data, identify the nature of information to be published, as well as the timing, formats, and standards that departments will be required to adopt. The clear goal of this Directive is to make Open Government and open information the 'default' approach.” 

Delivering on the promise of this ambitious agenda requires a coordinated effort that encompasses legal, policy and technology considerations. For one “open data” implies that its availability is unencumbered by privacy and security restrictions.   Addressing this issue is one of the principal tenets of the Action Plan on Open Government by providing a shared services-based document and records management platform designed to promote better record classification, declaration, retention and disposition best practices. Second, use of “open data” requires a licensing regime which empowers third parties to re-purpose content published by the Government of Canada.  The absence of such a licensing framework may create legal challenges as Copyright law protects original expression of ideas and under certain circumstances also protects the arrangement of raw data that requires some level of skill in compilation.[3]  Removing such restrictions fosters innovation by virtue of which such information may be leveraged for the public good. In fact, the Action Plan on Open Government contemplates the implementation of a “universal Open Government License” that obviates the potential legal impediments in leveraging published Government of Canada information.  It is interesting to note that very recently Canada Post launched a law suit for alleged copyright infringement by www.geocoder.ca, a website that provides geocoding services based  crowd-sourced database relating to Canadian postal codes.  The statement of defence is based on the argument that postal codes are facts and as such are not copyrightable.   Having clarity under which published Government of Canada information may be re-used is integral to the long term viability of the Open Government initiative.

Another interesting dimension of the Open Government initiative is one of economics.  Some studies suggest that there should be some form of cost recovery associated with providing such breadth of data for general consumption by corporations, and by citizens.   However the prevailing consensus is that the effort and costs associated with administering such a scheme would far outweigh  revenue streams that may be realized.  In fact such a scheme may well serve as a deterrent to accessing such information.  A far better approach is to encourage unfettered usage as it may stimulate innovation and thereby increased corporate and individual tax revenues collected by the Government from secondary publishing and associated services provided by the private sector.

Open Government may have profound transformative implications – that is democratization of information that has the potential to empower citizens to engage more directly in the policy formulation process on the one hand and stimulate private sector innovation by leveraging the data on the other hand. It may also have efficiency implications in “outsourcing” service access and delivery to constituents thereby reducing delivery costs while improving constituency service levels. Equally important is the network effect associated with open data. Metcalf’s Law states that the power of the network increases exponentially with each additional node added to the network. The positive implications of the network effect are evident in examples such as the human genome project[4].  The opportunities inherent in the Open Government initiative are enormous as unfiltered data may be transformed into meaning and applied in innovative ways in the form of knowledge and wisdom. The Open Government initiative is a step in the right direction although some argue it should go farther and faster.[5]

[1] http://www.opengovpartnership.org/open-government-declaration.  In September 2011 Canada is committed to join OGP.
[3] CCH Canadian Limited v. Law Society of Upper Canada, [2004] 1 SCR 339, 2004 SCC 13 is authority for the proposition that arrangement or repurposing of data such as directories and tabular information may be protectable under copyright.
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