Becoming Content Centric

For centuries, paper records have been managed on an operational model most commonly referred to as “materials management.� This model is applied to all types of other business assets. Because these paper records were, in essence, a physical commodity, their management was driven largely by need and space; the time period for retaining them was based on need, and the location for storing them was determined by the availability of space. Accordingly, records were kept where they were readily accessible for as long as space permitted. Over time, documents were transferred to another location where there was more (and usually less costly) space. Here, their continued accessibility could be ensured for as long as they were needed. This methodology provided the necessary controls to ensure both the authenticity and availability of the records within a business’s domain. Consequently, for as long as records have been created, media-centric records management practices successfully served the needs of business.

However, over the past decade, there has been a transformation of records management from media-centric (physical) records where management was based on observable physical location controlled by humans to digital information and content-centric records management, where the management process is based on invisible logical locations controlled by computers. This is a radically different approach and has resulted in exponentially greater complexity in the process of managing records over their life cycles.

Content-centric records management is a revolution in more than just a conceptual context. It is revolutionary in every aspect of how records are managed. When we begin conceptualizing new information being created from stored content, we begin identifying and understanding new types of records, where records are located, and how they are accessed.

With our continually evolving dependence on technology, higher performance standards, and new skill sets required for records and IT managers, there is a need for a cross-functional records management team. In the midst of this revolution where seemingly everything is changing, there is a critical part of records management that has remained remarkably stable: the law. In all cases, the courts seem to follow established legal principles. When judging how to manage information in a digital environment or content-centric environment, the same laws used for the existing media-content environment will still apply..