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InfoGov Day 2022 & The Future of Information Governance

Published February 15, 2022

By Nick Inglis

InfoGov Day 2022 is this Thursday, February 17.

As we celebrate how far this discipline and its’ professionals have come, we look toward a strong future for Information Governance. This inaugural year’s celebration through InfoGov.net has a theme of “Information Governance is Everywhere,” and it does feel as though Information Governance has finally reached a critical mass. 

Kicking off this year’s celebration, IPRO has joined with InfoGov.net to hold a special edition of the IPRO Morning Show with industry experts Ann Snyder and Steve Weissman,myself and IPRO’s Director of Product Frederic Bourget. Together we’ll be talking about the upcoming celebration and looking to the future for what we think it may hold for Information Governance.

In preparing to talk with this brilliant trio, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the future of Information Governance.

The future of Information Governance? Broader recognition.

The recognition of governance needs first came from those of us in the intersection of technology and information management. The industry association AIIM was a strong leader in this effort, with particular kudos to Jesse Wilkins. We started by creating system-specific methods of applying governance principles, and I wrote the “AIIM SharePoint Governance Toolkit,” a book that encapsulated many ways of approaching system-specific governance.

That effort always had its drawback: you’d have to apply governance principles to every information system you have. This approach worked great if you had a single centralized information system (with the best guidance available around Microsoft SharePoint). The problem was that most companies weren’t living in single system environments – what if we took the system-specific advice up a level and made it broadly applicable across systems?

Meet Information Governance.

Today, this approach has been adopted in many information-related disciplines – first, Information Management; then, Records Management. Today, the world of legal and eDiscovery, some of whom saw the potential of IG early on, is moving full steam into adopting Information Governance. 

Which disciplines remain not on board? Privacy has seen growing alignment but hasn’t fully embraced Information Governance, that seems to be happening now, and I’d expect over the coming five or so years.

Security is another discipline that hasn’t come aboard the movement toward Information Governance firmly yet as people in this industry are so much rightly focused on endpoints right now. Security is still playing man-to-man coverage (for those who love a good sports analogy) while the IG professionals play zone defense. While most security professionals immediately recognize the benefits of Information Governance, they often see it as proactive work they can hardly afford to take on right now. It’s tough to argue with that logic, but it is also difficult not to notice that security’s alignment with IG is something that companies and firms must invest in to reduce risk of data exposure and potential breaches .

There’s also not a lot of guidance currently available for information security professionals to leverage in alignment with IG programs. So, I expect it’ll be a growth area for some savvy InfoSec professionals who delve deeper into the IG arena.

The future of Information Governance? Legislative backing.

When health privacy had become problematic, legislatively in the United States, we responded with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). When a similar concern arose around individual financial information legislatively in the United States, we responded with 1999’s Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). This is how we have handled each new information challenge – FINRA, CCPA, FOIA, etc. Why would Information Governance be different?

While, the US Congress isn’t quite as functional or responsive as it seemed to be in the 1990s, our information needs and concerns are growing – from privacy and security to records and eDiscovery. Eventually, legislative changes will be coming.

The future of Information Governance? A recognized professional discipline.

While many believed that AIIM or ARMA would be the standard-bearers for Information Governance, there have been as many fumbled opportunities as there have been successes. While the association world has faced immeasurable pressure to modernize and restructure, the profession of Information Governance that they have been attempting to support has been growing uncontrollably.

Today, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see a posting from a Fortune 500 company for a Director of Information Governance or some other equivalent title.

I continue to hope a professional association will help us bring the community together and forward; I expect that with all these folks doing the work in companies around the world, it’s only a matter of time before we finally have a recognized professional discipline (with a widely accepted Body of Knowledge and supporting certification). Despite many great efforts, this is still lacking. So how is IG still growing despite all these setbacks?

There’s a reason for the growth of Information Governance: it works.

Information Governance works. It helps us mitigate information risks, organize our information environments, maximize the value of our information, and protect against threats. A coordinated approach is required for information success, and the IG approach will continue to grow. That’s something worth celebrating. I hope you’ll join us in celebrating Information Governance for InfoGov Day 2022.