Published: 24 May 2018

Reading time: About 5 minutes

At this year’s IRMS conference there were four main themes. Software improvements, blockchain, policy and process making, and the elephant in the room GDPR. Or “The G-word” as it was known throughout the conference.

So, what were our four key takeaways from IRMS18? Let’s take a look in a little more detail:

GDPR is an opportunity for businesses to re-establish trust

It was all but impossible to avoid talking about GDPR, and it filtered through into every conversation at IRMS 2018. You may have realised already…but GDPR comes into force this Friday 25th May and it marks a seismic shift not only for data management but for the way Information Managers work and handle data.

Louise Byers from the ICO took to the stage in the opening keynote to discuss exactly this. She stressed, “The GDPR is not Y2K it’s an opportunity to rework how you interact with those who are most important to you” It is also important to remember that GDPR can be a boon and not a barrier. It’s not all about fines, after all.

Trust building was the key topic of conversation in the GDPR panel discussion too. With Tim Pit-Payne, a leading barrister, stressing that it’s a badge of honour that companies should be pleased to earn.

The key message behind everything, however, was that GDPR offers organisations a huge opportunity. Re-establishing trust with customers should be high in every organisation’s priorities, and GDPR gives you the tools to get trust right.

It’s never been more important to understand your data

There was naturally much discussion of data management and innovation at IRMS 2018. Data has been unfavourably compared to oil in recent times, but the consensus of the GDPR panel discussion was that it’s far more important than that. In fact, could we go so far as saying “Data is the new blood”? Tim Pit Payne certainly thinks so:

If data isn’t the new blood donation, then how about asbestos? In his keynote speech, Gavyn Britton suggested the comparison. Organisations know they have useful data sitting in silos, they just don’t know how to deal with it effectively. Which leads us to the next point…

Organisations need effective data policies, processes and technology in place

It’s easy to talk about how important data is to an organisation. But the real value comes when you begin to turn the conversation towards how to unlock those insights. When it comes to efficient data management, it’s impossible to go forward without clear-cut policies and processes. Sue Lal described GDPR as a “Highway Code” for data protection and management. It gives a framework to build policies around.

This theme filtered into many of the breakout sessions where delegates got the opportunity to hear in-depth discussions of projects, successes and new technologies. One of these was Belfast Trust, who suffered a huge data breach in recent years. They were on hand to talk about what it taught them, and how it made them to totally reimagine the way they store and manage their data

Blockchain is already here and we can’t ignore it

When it comes to digital disruption there’s none more divisive than blockchain technology. This method of encrypting data is either the best way to create a fraud-proof system for transacting exchanges or inherently problematic…depending on the stance you take.

At IRMS 2018 there was an interesting debate as to whether the data encrypted using blockchain still counts as personal data as well as it’s compatibility with the GDPR. The overall consensus was that blockchain is the future, but it is incompatible with GDPR as it stands. We will just have to wait and see how this one plays out.

Bonus: Let’s talk about SharePoint

It would be impossible to talk about key takeaways at IRMS 2018 and not mention SharePoint. It’s the lifeblood of most data transformation projects in the Information and Records Management sector, and for good reason.

SharePoint, as part of the Office 365 suite, allows organisations to efficiently store and process their data holdings. Plus, with intelligent solutions like our Local Government Accelerator (which was launched at IRMS 2018) organisations can bake in additional retention and compliance capabilities.

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