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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 Sense making

After the first nine questions come five others designed to make sense of the information you’ve gathered.

  1. Does this 'new' activity have outputs that mean we have a new record here?
  2. Are new records or a new class of records being created that need to be 'managed'?
  3. Is this something that needs to be added to the Information Assets Register?
  4. Can you see any potential regulatory or legal issues?
  5. Has this aspect been fully checked out by your legal and compliance experts?


After sense making comes action.  No more questions for the moment!

  • You may need to alert someone(s) about a new regulatory or legal risk/issue
  • You may need to make new entries in the IAR or retention schedule
  • You will have to keep close watch on developments in this field.


Records managers must consider the 14 questions and take appropriate action.  Nothing is out of the ordinary.

There are no foolproof ways to fully prepare for the world of Big Data; it will require that we establish new principles by which we govern ourselves. A series of important changes to our practices can help society as it becomes more familiar with big data’s character and shortcomings. We must design safeguards to allow a new professional class of “monitors” to assess big-data analytics — so that a world which has become less random and better served by dint of big data does not turn into a black box, simply replacing one form of the unknowable with another.

John Davies is Head of Business Consultancy at Idox PLC.  He ran a session on Big Data and Records Management at the recent Information and Records Management Society conference in Brighton. 

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