Big Data and Records Management

John Davies discusses the role of records managers in making sense of Big Data - and explores five Big Data myths.

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Myth 5: we haven’t got the skills

Some consultancies have made a great play about the skills shortage when it comes to Big Data.  The chances are there will be enough technical resource coming out of universities who have very quickly set up postgraduate courses to work with Big Data.

One new role that merits attention has been labelled The Monitor.  This is perceived to be a new professional role:  impartial and confidential. Expert in computer science, maths and statistics, this new role will review big-data analyses and predictions, evaluate the selection of data sources, the choice of tools, algorithms and models, and the interpretation of results.  A cousin to more familiar compliance, audit and records management roles?

So, what must good records managers do?

What good records managers have always done; nothing more, nothing less.  Three core things:

  • Discovery
  • Sense making
  • Action


Questions (obviously) aimed at understanding any Big Data initiative in your organisation.  It might be harder than you think to find out if there is any such thing going on but best starting point is with your CIO or IT department. So...the first nine questions.

  1. What is going on here?
  2. Why are we doing it
  3. What’s the purpose, background, scope, and context of this activity?
  4. Who’s ultimately responsible for the project?
  5. What data are being used for this Big Data activity? 
  6. Are new data being generated?
  7. Where and how is the data being processed and stored? 
  8. Are the data being shared or sold on?
  9. How long will any new data be retained?

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