As part of our 2023 Trends series, we sat down with Dave Fathers, Regional Director of Crown Records Management to discuss what he saw as the major emerging trends in the Information Management
Q What do you think are the biggest trends and drivers of change in the UK records management field?
A “Let’s start with the drivers of change because these are strong in the UK and relevant to all businesses.
“They are primarily political and economic, ranging from Brexit to the impact of pandemic and now how businesses deal with rising inflation, rising energy prices and a cost-of-living crisis.
“All these aspects impact how a business runs and what it needs from its systems.
“There’s no doubt that all these drivers have pushed the UK, which was already a mature market in terms of digital transformation, deeper into the digital space.”
Q What does that mean in real terms?
A “It means that the demand for digital systems is greater than ever before. The new culture of working from home, which doesn’t look it will go away, means people need easier, simpler access to data and documents – and businesses need easier and simpler ways to set parameters around who can access that data.
“Doing that without an EMS, an electronic management system, is almost impossible. So, even small businesses are focused on being part of a digital world. In fact, SMEs are often some of the first adopters of new technology, and larger companies and rushing to catch up.”
Q Are there any other trends or drivers that can be an equally big influence on records management in future?
A “The only one I really see of that size is sustainability. It’s an issue which is being taken very seriously by the UK market and increasingly boards are asking serious questions about the sustainability credentials of their departments, their partners, and their entire supply chain.
“Whether you are a records management business or whether you are running an HR department, sustainability must be right there at the top of your list of priorities.
“This could have a significant impact on the direction that digital transformation takes in future. Solutions need to work for everybody, and that includes the environment.”
Can you think of an example?
Q “I would pick out destruction services here, for physical and for digital data. There’ an assumption that once you digitise there’s no problem in just keeping it forever.
“But every form of digital storage comes with a sustainability impact, so the need to destroy unnecessary data is growing.
“Destroying data that has gone beyond its retention date already made sense in terms of saving money and avoiding compliance risks – especially from GDPR subject matter requests. Now it is even more imperative.
“The same goes for physical storage. Every box stored generates in the region of 169 grammes of carbon into the atmosphere. year in, year out just by sitting there. It’s crazy to keep it there when you don’t need to.”
Q Are there any new legislative challenges coming up in the UK?
A “Not in the short term. The impact of GDPR continues, of course, and that hasn’t changed because of Brexit – the regulations have simply been transferred into UK law.
“Complying with GDPR is vital for global business and heightens the need for strong records management systems. The only thing that might change is that more and more regions adopt similar principles. In future, doing business abroad will be impossible if you don’t look after data and comply with GDPR principles. So, businesses which don’t know what the means – perhaps small companies that are growing fast – need to understand it quickly.”
Q What about paper records in the UK. Is it going away?
A “It will probably never go away. There will always be a place for physical records, not least because some records must be kept in physical format by law for a very long time. And there are a lot of heritage records being stored this way – from wills to personal health records – and share certificates to medical and pharmaceutical records.
“But things are changing. We’ve noticed that even sectors which have been resistant to going digital, such as banking, insurance, and central government, have taken significant steps in that direction since the pandemic. That’s a trend to watch.”
If you’d like to learn more about what trends are shaping our industry globally, download our 2023 Trends Guide to discover the global drivers today.