Philip Britton has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, having started in the information management industry in 1989. As Crown’s Group Vice President of Records Management since 2001, his primary responsibility is to promote the benefits of records management to Crown’s clients, from implementation, to rolling out new procedures, to the promotion of ongoing best practices.

Philip’s role includes the development of new products and services, including the roll-out of new technology systems offered by Crown Records Management to its 170 management centers. The technology includes fully customizable, web-based systems with linkage via the "web cloud", and integration tools that provide clients with easy access to their records information. To support the Crown Records Management team, an account management tool supplies a faster and more accurate response to complex, multi-country service/rate requests, providing global, regional and local reports.

Another important aspect of Philip’s role is to share best practices such as health and safety, customer feedback procedures and operational efficiencies, including ISO processes and Management Center security systems.

Philip holds a BA Hons from the University of London. He is a past member of the International Board of Directors for PRISM International (Professional Records & Information Services Management). He currently holds a number of positions with various RIM industry organizations around the world who advise on industry standards. A particular strength of Philip’s is his ability to promote Crown’s procedures, best practices and high-quality systems throughout the network.

1. How long have you worked in the records management industry?

I started working in the Records and Information Management industry way back in the late 1980’s. We are moving from the hard copy anolog into the digital and “big data” age. The industry has passed through a number of overlapping requirements. Changing from the need to off-site to save space through the phases of data recovery and risk management needs and moving on to the age of compliancy. There has also been the shift from anolog to digital. Changing from the requirements of back scanning and imaging projects to creation of data in only digital formats. Security, compliancy and legislation have played a big factor within the industry. This has led to every increasing levels of professionalism. We are no longer simply repositories for the storage of information but now true managers of data.

2. Is it possible to be paperless?

In theory it should be but the reality is we are not there yet. Paperless processes have their virtues, but let’s not confuse the means with the ends. Paper is often still the best tool for the job. Although a lot of our tools and systems are now digital, many of the touch points that businesses have with their customers and constituents remain analog. Smart decision makers know that evolution, not revolution, is the sensible path forward. But when it comes to paper, there has not been a reasonable evolutionary path available. Paper or no paper is not a simple black or white choices. In fact, the best solution is both/and. New technologies now make this possible, enabling a gentle, evolutionary path forward. Lots of valuable data remains on paper. The paperless mind-set often overlooks a critical fact: vast stores of valuable information are still housed on paper. When we think of big data as only including the information we can easily access -- like Web logs and click streams -- we are missing a huge opportunity. Both commercial and public sector organizations need solutions that help them analyse paper-based data with big data tools. This view embraces data in all its forms. The idea of "paper vs. paperless" is a false dichotomy. Data comes in both forms, and we need to think more about how to get the data we need rather than about the form it comes in. As the digital and analog worlds increasingly meld together, we need to center our thinking around "going paperless" as a means to using digital data, not an end.

3. Is the Data Protection Law: a hindrance or help?

Where legislation is concerned, the line between disruption innovation and disruption in the old-fashioned sense is a fine one. The real purpose of the data protection law is a good one and should be adhered too. It requires anyone who collects and uses private information to only use that information for the purpose for which it was collected and to keep the information secure from anyone else who might use it to the disadvantage of the data subject. Of course the wheels of commerce have to keep turning. If data needs to be legitimately used to perform contracts or to exercise rights then it needs to be available. The danger comes when the legislation is used as an obstacle of bureaucracy rather than a tool to ensure protection and benefits. Taken in the right light, data protection is there to help and guide.