On Tuesday, July 12th, members of the IT (Information Technology) and IM (Information Management) communities got together in the Council Chambers at the Region of Waterloo for a morning of discussion and reflection on the roles of IM and IT, potential partnerships and potential areas of conflict.

The day started off with a lovely breakfast spread.  Food is always so important to conversation!

The panel discussion was facilitated by Denise Bruno, Supervisor, Business Solutions at York Region.  Denise had been a participant at ARMA SWO’s 2014 Spring Workshop, Info Veritas where one of the themes focused on this topic.  Denise approached the Board with the idea to continue the conversation, and this event was that idea having come to fruition.

Denise was joined on the panel by Chris Moore, Independent Consultant and former CIO of the City of Edmonton, Christine Swenor, Director of IT Services for the City of Burlington and President of MISA and Anne Hepplewhite, Manager of Records and Information Management for the Niagara Parks Commission and President Elect of ARMA Southwestern Ontario.

It was very clear from the discussion that the partnership between IT and IM needs further dialogue, but that there is a good foundation on which to build that discourse.  One of the most serious concerns brought forward by IM is of being “swallowed up” by IT, while IT sees IM as being able to deliver solutions to some of the practical problems facing the proliferation of technology that they enable, and support.

After a delicious coffee break, Denise Bruno led a discussion about IM and IT language, sharing the experiment that York Region is undertaking with a Definitions Document and their process for outlining functional requirements for ECM procurement.  This discussion was interesting as it has great potential to provoke more thinking to bring to the next event.  York Region has taken the bold step of removing the word “Record” from its Retention Schedule and replaced it with “Information.”  This approach was met with some discomfort from participants, especially those concerned with aspects of preservation.

Indeed – why, for example, in this event about IM and IT were Archives professionals almost absent?  The Archival Science has contributed most of the scholarly work that informs the practice of records management and they most likely have a great deal to contribute to the ongoing discourse.  As Region of Waterloo Archivist Charlotte Woodley quite correctly pointed out, the problem of long term digital preservation must be tackled at the creation stage of the digital object, not at the disposition stage.  (Apologies to Charlotte for paraphrasing!)

Chris Moore then led a discussion in which he shared his experience in implementing a cloud solution for the City of Edmonton and suggested that the best time for collaboration is during a time of disruptive change.  This is because during a large installation or upgrade, there is opportunity to challenge the status quo, to explore perspectives and sometimes to change our thinking.

Your ARMA Southwestern Ontario Board is committed to providing opportunities for networking, for discussion and for provocative thinking.  While the Board does not necessarily endorse all of the approaches that are floated at our meetings, we hope that the discussion kindles a fire, sparks further disruption and keeps the conversation going.

See you in August!