Tapping Into Africa’s IG Potential – An Interview With Amb-Dr. Oyedokun Ayodeji Oyewole

Fifth in a series of in-depth interviews with innovators and leaders in the fields of Risk, Compliance and Information Governance across the globe.

Dr. Oyedokun Ayodeji OyewoleAmb-Dr. Oyedokun Ayodeji Oyewole is the Chairman of the Board at the Institute of Information Management (IIM) based in Nigeria. Prior to leading the institute, he spent years in IT and cyber-security roles for Swedish firms and consulting for the Oil and Gas industry. Dr. Oyewole is both an accomplished Records and Information Management practitioner and a fierce advocate for the discipline. I sat down with him in July to ask him about his journey through the universe of information management, his thoughts about professional development and the emerging opportunities in Africa.

Dr. Oyewole, your work developing new practitioners in the Records Management field is substantial and encouraging. You have empowered individuals, young and old, to harness their analytical skills to advance their professional development while instilling pride and confidence in them. Tell us what inspired you to look at Africa and decide how building a community of skilled practitioners could make a difference not just in individual’s lives but in their communities?

My sojourn into the information management space started in 2004, with a very big vision and mission. This was at a time when information management technology was being implemented by only a few organisations in Africa. With the vast opportunities in the RIM space in Africa coupled with the many societal challenges faced by the continent, I saw the need for us to buttress the demand for proper management and security of records and information in both public and private organisations. A very large chunk of organisations were still struggling with managing physical records and certainly not prepared for electronic records. Poverty, corruption and a lack of employment opportunities were crippling. In analyzing all this, I felt the only meaningful solution to both alleviating suffering and empowering people was through advancement of this all important industry, information management, neglected for decades in Africa. Having a society where quality records and information can be easily accessed must be a priority in the face of several challenges ranging from lack of government support, inadequate legislation, poorly trained professionals and practitioners, to the absence of standards and necessary tools for adequate data and information governance.

Most people around the world don’t realize that many parts of Africa, especially in Nigeria, do have sophisticated infrastructures despite being considered developing nations. The history of Africa is varied and rich in so many ways, with much of its potential still yet to be unlocked. What if anything do you feel is unique to African nations in their management of records, information and data that you might not find in places like the U.K. or in the United States?

The information management industry in Nigeria is still evolving with a great deal of potential yet to be tapped. I think what seems to be unique about the records and information management profession in Nigeria and other parts of Africa is the tremendous commitment and passion you find in an average information management professional, in their resolve to take their career to the next level amidst a myriad of social and economic challenges.

You spent quite some time working for Chevron Nigeria Limited on its Agura Independent Power Project designing EDMS systems. Nigeria’s oil reserves are substantial and as this sector develops, just like in the United States, there are social and environmental issues impacted by this progress. How much are projects such as these affected by laws and regulations in African nations and what trends do you expect in the African regulatory landscape over the next five or ten years?

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Turning Collective Wisdom Into Strength – An Interview with Andrea Kalas of the Association of Moving Image Archivists

Fourth in a series of in-depth interviews with innovators and leaders in the fields of Risk, Compliance and Information Governance across the globe.

Andrea KalasAndrea Kalas is a recent President of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Prior to her current role at Paramount Pictures as SVP of Archives, she led the preservation program at the British Film Institute. I had the opportunity to sit down with her in June to discuss bit loss, digital asset management, artificial intelligence and the benefits that millennials are bringing to the profession.

Andrea, you’ve spoken and taught at length about the challenges of bit loss and how it affects the race to preserve not just America’s rich film history, but that of other countries and cultures. How does a global team like yours even begin to prioritize its preservation goals as you race against the clock?

Digital preservation has the basic goal of avoiding bit loss, technically. However, the work that really requires technologists and archivists to effectively collaborate involves the treatment of files as valuable records, art or artifacts. This goes against so much of how basic information technology systems work. For example the word “archive” has been used as a term to mean data written off-line and put on removable media on a shelf, never to be touched again. This is a sure path to bit loss. For an archivist this definition is completely counter-productive. It as much about communication and clear technical requirements from archivists as it is building technical solutions. What we’ve developed is an infrastructure that makes sure there are multiple copies of our feature films, and that each file that makes up that film is checked annually. We’ve also worked hard at making sure that we’ve architected things so that as hardware and software change, which they inevitably to, the files and metadata that make up that film can survive. This keeps us on track with what we have to preserve. That and the incredibly brilliant archivists who work with me and bring innovation to the process as it evolves.

Aside from the importance of preserving history and the arts, what are the other benefits of preservation for large intellectual property firms like those in the Entertainment industry?

Entertainment companies who base their business plans on the ability to distribute films and television programs over the long term benefit from the preservation of their intellectual property both financially and culturally. The cultural aspect is often called in business terms, “branding,” or the public recognition of the value of that company. A film studio who demonstrates it cares as much about a film that has great public and cultural appreciation as it has financial benefit enhances its brand. These two reasons are why those who own intellectual property have a duty of care. Like many distributors, we have some titles we distribute for a short period of time, and other for which we have long-term rights. It is the latter we preserve.

Some argue that AI was kickstarted by image repository work thanks to the efforts of academics like Fei-Fei Li at Stanford. Companies like Zorroa, for example, are now developing tools for visual asset management that integrate machine learning algorithms so users can auto-classify assets. This must be promising considering the volume of materials we must now manage. Are projects like this on the horizon for other studios or is it still cost prohibitive?

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Emerging From The Dense, Digital Fog – An Interview with Dr. Ulrich Kampffmeyer

Third in a series of interviews with leaders in the fields of Risk, Compliance and Information Governance across the globe.

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Dr. Ulrich Kampffmeyer is the Managing Director of Project Consult in Hamburg, Germany and a renowned expert on digital transformations, business intelligence and enterprise content management. I had the opportunity to sit down with him in May and discuss the GDPR, artificial intelligence and social issues emerging from the dense, digital fog we all find ourselves in.

Ulrich, you write and teach extensively about the cultural and social changes in work environments that are a direct result of the emergence of digital transformations. Now that data is at the fingertips of everyone, what changes should society expect that the business world may have already?

The pace of digital transformation accelerates day by day. Cloud technologies, artificial intelligence, IoT and other developments are happening so fast that there is a danger they’ll get out of control. The mightier AI becomes the larger the danger that it gets uncontrollable. Consider Soshana Zuboff (one of the first tenured women at Harvard Business School) and her three laws:

  1. Everything that can be automated will be automated.
  2. Everything that can be informated will be informated.
  3. Every digital application that can be used for surveillance and control will be used for surveillance and control.

Neither our businesses or society are currently prepared for this change. Just have a look at the GDPR discussions. Data protection as general necessity, data safety as the requirement for continuity, data privacy by default, information governance to keep control, keep the value, keep information accessible – these are basic requirements that should not be ignored like in the past. Future historians will call our era the dark age of the early information society.

You spent quite a bit of time at the Fraunhofer Institute developing imaging systems and processes to support archaeological studies. Given that images provide so much of the fuel for artificial intelligence engines, do you envision some of our older legacy systems and indexes ever providing value to future AI efforts?

In the mid-80’s I worked on pattern recognition, image processing, database systems and expert systems for archaeologists and prehistorians. Too early. Today, taking a computer, drones and sensor systems to an excavation is standard. The capabilities of software, hardware and self-learning algorithms are far more sophisticated than in those days. But lets consider so-called old fashioned methods of organizing information. You mentioned the terms “legacy” and “indexes.” Metadata is not legacy. It is a question of quality, control and governance. Controlled metadata, vocabularies and taxonomies are of special value to big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Controlled data sets work as guide poles to train new technologies with high quality information. This is important for automated indexing when capturing information, when sharpening enterprise search for qualified results, and managing your repositories in regard to compliance requirements. Especially when it comes to compliance, straightly organized high quality information is an asset. But AI will change the game as well in the near future. Currently classification schemes and file plans are developed manually by academic rules. In the future software will analyse all information and organize itself by protection guidelines, user models, processes, value, retention.

This series of interviews with global leaders in information governance, risk and compliance seeks to find common values and themes in these disciplines across disparate cultures. I know that you are major advocate of standardization. Are there one or two common threads that run between all of the projects and people you’ve worked with that you also believe should be universal aims?

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Farmers Insurance Case Study at #MER2018

Had a terrific time presenting my Case Study on Information Governance at Farmers Insurance in Chicago this year. If you missed me, please check out the deck below!

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3 Timeless Business Lessons from a Real Life Superwoman

Eleanor Moscatel in Superman

The Adventures of Superman (upper right, Eleanor Moscatel)

My Mother is 86 and doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile. But if she ever did, her headline would read something like… “Former ingenue, entrepreneur, dreamer, and the rest is none of your damn business, honey.” But to those who’ve had the privilege to know her over the decades her mantra has always been, quite simply, to treat everybody with dignity!

Here are 3 timeless business lessons she’s taught me to go along with that mantra.

3. The worst “they” can say is “no.” – Opportunities were not exactly flowing in depression-era Los Angeles, but that didn’t stop one young lady from putting herself out there. She helped my father through chiropractic school by working long hours as a Hollywood extra throughout the 50’s and 60’s. Though never quite achieving stardom she knocked on enough doors to get a lot of work, save some seed money and establish relationships that would eventually transform her life. Mom leveraged her new, tough shell to find opportunities, sell her strengths and laugh off rejection.  “It’s no big deal,” she constantly told me as a kid. At the end of the day you should never be afraid to ask for what you want because the absolute worst “they” can say is no. And you still get to keep your dignity.

2. Get everything in writing. – Unurprisingly, Mom had to learn this lesson like most of us… the hard way. This was the mid-century after all and commonplace to make agreements on a handshake. But it only took a few rotten deals for her to realize that keeping good records was key to helping a business stay on track and prospering. Putting it in writing lets the other person know that you need to be, and you will be, treated with dignity.

1. Don’t burn your bridges. – The keyword in the old adage that you can’t make a lot of money without making a few enemies is few. Just as one door opens and another closes, Mom never wanted to find herself in a new room with an old enemy. By treating everybody with dignity she managed to avoid burning many bridges. And for every bridge she burned, she’s probably built a thousand more. When a job or a deal doesn’t go your way, take the high road and don’t make it personal. You never know what the future brings or who might be bringing it.

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Mom’s success, not just in business, but among the people she calls colleagues, friends and family is based on dignity. And while there were many times in her life where she was unfairly treated, put at a disadvantage and rejected, she never forgot that. I guess that’s why I never had much of a problem following the 5th Commandment. Anybody remember that one?

Digital Bondage and the Fallacy Of Work-Life Integration

Forget your elder’s sage advice on maintaining a good work-life balance. There’s a new patently absurd approach (promoted here by the time-strapped PhD’s at Berkeley Haas), and it’s spreading like wildfire throughout the business world. They call it… “Work-Life Integration!”

Digital Bondage

The term “Work-Life Integration” is so misleading because at this point we’re all enduring an increasing degree of overlap between our personal and professional lives. It may be sold to us as “convenience” but much of it is not exactly “optional.” This obsessive and all-in-one approach to time-management ends up usurping the little personal, spontaneous and family time we still have left.

It reminds me a little of Chris Rock’s famous bit on “Job v. Career.”

But not everybody is as fortunate as Chris and there’s a bigger impact to his lifestyle than he’s letting on in the above clip. And so “Work-Life Integration” also makes me think about Cecil DeMille’s classic The Ten Commandments and the famous scene where a worker is about to be trampled by a giant stone moved by “her colleagues.” Moses’ character, played by Charlton Heston, comes down from his managerial pedestal to save the poor soul, who later turns out is his own Mother! It’s a metaphor for how easily, often and unfairly, we as society, put work before family, friends and for believers, even God. And when it negatively impacts others it is arguably immoral.

I was most recently educated on this 24/7 mindset by an executive who boasted, “Say I’m on flight to Hawaii with my family for the weekend, and I’ve got to approve a purchase order for half-a-million. I can do it right here from my iPhone!” Well, that’s nice, but it highlights the disconnect between those who literally have the world at their fingertips and those who get interrupted with email from their boss on the weekends. The same technology fix that feeds the workaholic is now invading the space of almost everyone, not just the guy or gal with a “career.” It’s affecting their partner, their children, their social circle, people on the road. And in many cases it is invasive, counter-productive and unhealthy for the family and the self. Do we really want to live in digital bondage?

In many ways, this digital bondage is reminiscent of the days when men and women of all ages built the Pyramids until they dropped dead. Sure, the Pyramids still stand as a testament to architecture and ingenuity, but to many they will also always represent a chapter in history when there was seldom a break from work. Luckily today we have a choice.

We must stand firmly behind the importance of rest and personal space. Sure, working remotely through technology has given us flexibility. There’s no denying that. But half-baked ideas like “Work-Life Integration” have adversely impacted the very relationships and working-conditions they were meant to improve.

Some in the Jewish faith believe that one of the Ten Commandments, to observe a day of rest on the Sabbath, is a cornerstone of not just spiritual growth, but what ultimately may lead to success in other areas of one’s life. Most cultures share this important value but as it erodes across the globe and the lines between work and rest are blurred, we all suffer.

Stay off the devices this weekend as much as you can. Find true balance by freeing yourself from digital bondage.

Less is more, gaps are opportunities and relationships matter: A Case Study in Information Governance at #AIIM2018!

AIIM 2018 is just around the corner and I’m thrilled to be presenting my Case Study at this great conference which takes place April 10-13th, in San Antonio! Hope you can join me and so many like-minded in San Antonio this year or later in May when I’ll also be speaking about a program which was recently honored by ARMA International with its Excellence for an Organization Award!  Here are a few slides from my session which will be held on April 12th at 5PM.

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