Category: Artificial Intelligence

Finding Genuine Talent in the Artificial World – An Interview with Erick Swaine of Mackenzie Ryan Executive Search

Thirteenth in a series of in-depth interviews with innovators and leaders in the fields of Risk, Compliance and Information Governance across the globe. From the soon to be released book, “Tomorrow’s Jobs Today.”


Erick Swaine is a practice director for Mackenzie Ryan, a global talent recruiting firm. He specializes in Information Governance, AI and Analytics. He has placed thousands of job candidates across a wide spectrum of industries into mid-level to executive leadership positions and speaks frequently on their journeys and the mechanics of professional development. He received his Bachelor’s in Marketing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I spoke with him in July about today’s recruitment process, outsourcing strategies and the nuances of succession planning in the information age.


Erick, you were an early pioneer in helping employers understand the value and talent that information governance, AI, and analytics professionals offered when these disciplines were in their infancy. How has the demand for these emerging fields transformed recruiting in the job market?

There’s a lot to unpack there as it relates to tech itself, the demand for these emerging fields and how that has transformed over the years. I come from the industry myself. Prior to my current role I sold analytics software with built in compliance and document management capabilities. Our firm recognized value in analytics and was looking to build a technology practice. Mackenzie Ryan, which split off from Personify last year (both held under Mackenzie Ryan Holdings) didn’t have it when I came abroad so they went to their private equity VC partners and asked them, “Where are you investing as it relates to technology?” There was a resounding theme around electronically stored information. This was about a dozen years ago. At that point not everyone had a content management system. The players were SharePoint, OpenText, and OnBase and companies like Stellent, which was later picked up by Oracle, and Filenet, which was picked up by IBM. But they hadn’t penetrated all the markets. Early on the investment was in Content Management and overall repositories. It was really a soup-to-nuts storage of data, you know, manipulating workflows for all components of information management.

Overall, the human capital demand is there because of the efficiency that you can create by understanding your data. The newfound efficiency is driving advanced analytics and AI over the last five to six years, with massive amounts of investments around how we make decisions around these resources. This strategy requires the right talent.

As companies started to evolve, and you had social media come into play, around the same time, there were massive amounts of electronically stored data being created. Although storage kept getting cheaper and cheaper, there was a lot of regulation coming out requiring governance of data. Many of them looked at the discipline of Information Governance as a cost only, and then hopped over into advanced analytics. Over the last three or four years, they have moved more into Artificial Intelligence.

Yet, it’s all about making sense of the data that we’re already storing, and probably not defensibly disposing of. What the new technology has done for both large and small employers is really allow these companies to make data-driven decisions, and they drive those decisions based on a lot of historical legacy data. We noticed there are several companies that either used advanced analytics platforms or AI for internal knowledge management (to enhance institutional knowledge and train their people better), or they began aggregating and analyzing the data in order to develop additional revenue streams externally.

Overall, the human capital demand is there because of the efficiency that you can create by understanding your data, and that has driven, especially in advanced analytics and AI over the last five to six years, massive amounts of investments around how we drive decisions around these resources. Continue reading “Finding Genuine Talent in the Artificial World – An Interview with Erick Swaine of Mackenzie Ryan Executive Search”

20 Years After Google: In Search of a Better Way to Search

From its inception the internet has always been about search…. searching for that answer, that perfect example, that one you love? But search has also changed the way we think about information, about primary sources and really about each other in wildly different ways that aren’t always, well….helpful.

In the wrong data steward’s hands the integrity of our records and information, both in the style and context in which it is delivered, can be easily and unfairly distorted. This has worsened over time and is horrifying when you consider the extent of “deep fakes,” “fake news” and other purposeful misleading propaganda being spread. A trend towards misinformation and bias is clearly what has happened over time with Google’s search results and it’s having disastrous unintended consequences on the pursuit and preservation of knowledge, wisdom and the humanities around the entire world.

With exciting new A.I. tools like Alexa and Siri becoming commonplace, search has entered a second renaissance and results have even more power to shape hearts and minds. Yet nobody, no one monopoly, should be in the business of brokering access to facts or opinions.

We need new tools that deliver intelligent results that protect the privacy of its users and promote resources which enrich our lives, communities and world around us without exploiting our vulnerabilities.

With proper regulation of monopolies like Google there’s going to be a better way to find what you “need” without being subtly persuaded how to believe and incessantly pestered about what you should “want” along the way. In other words, a return to search that offers a wealth of information minus manipulation.

True search results should provide access to knowledge you can rely on for personal, professional and academic growth. A search engine should steer you away from groupthink and encourage critical thinking, not bully you into becoming a “follower.” We need independent thinkers to reclaim their independence as information consumers, as teachers and students, as citizens, as moms, dads, brothers, sisters and yes, even as politicians. After all, the internet has the power to be the great equalizer in spreading knowledge. But that knowledge can only bring light to our present darkness if it can shine through the praetorian ideologues that have begun to guard its boundless prism.

Google was perfect for its time and helped both connect and open the world to itself. Yet now, as our collective tastes become more refined, we realize our search time is equally as valuable as increasingly for-profit algorithms. Rather than wasting another moment sifting through information curated through a corporate or political filter, knowledge seekers should demand to be able to create their own!

We deserve new tools that deliver intelligent results that protect the privacy of its users and promote resources which enrich our lives, communities and world around us without exploiting our vulnerabilities.

Building the Bridge Between Strategy and Governance Aboard the IT Enterprise – An Interview with Kevin Gray of the City of Burbank

Building a Bridge Between Strategy and Governance Aboard the IT Enterprise – An Interview with Kevin Gray, CIO of the City of Burbank

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


Kevin Gray is the Chief Information Officer for the City of Burbank, leading an IT department responsible for administrative and network management, geographic information systems and technical services for more than 1400 city employees across 15 departments. Before assuming this role he served as VP of Global Media and IT for Viacom, one of the world’s premier entertainment companies, overseeing an international team located across six continents. He received his Bachelor of Science from California State University, Long Beach and is a certified Scrum Master and PMP. I spoke with him over lunch this May about aligning governance with business strategy, balancing risks and opportunities in AI and his insights on career growth.


Kevin, you began your career path at Orion Pictures administering Unix systems and then directed data center ops for DreamWorks. How did this early hands-on experience with application design and DB administration prepare you for future IT leadership positions at Viacom and ultimately the CIO role with the City of Burbank?

Well I started out on a service desk actually, really at the entry levels in IT, and I’ve been lucky to have grown up through all aspects of it. I think climbing that ladder one rung at a time definitely helped give me a clear vision to see across all the disciplines of technology.  It enabled me to see the forest through the trees, the big picture, gave me the ability to design operations, develop strategy… and equipped me with a vision to incorporate it all. And now I can more thoughtfully pull together a clear plan for how to run an organization, understand how to innovate, how to drive change through both a specific business unit or an organization. Experience is what best prepared me to lead.

One of your focal points has always been the importance of properly aligning IT governance with an organization’s business strategy. What are some of the practical ways IT teams accomplish this goal and how critical is the relationship building component that accompanies that synchronicity?

I think the most practical way to accomplish this is to focus on the people. Focus on the people developing the strategy and look at how their business is trying to implement it, because the most important thing is to be in alignment with the shared goal, in alignment with the people you’re partnering with. You have to be a true partner with the business. And that has to be the focus, not the technology. The technology is the secondary piece. Technology is what you use to try to find the solution for the business problems that they’re trying to solve. And those business problems don’t always stay the same, they change. They change based on economic conditions, they change based on market conditions, they may change based on who might be occupying the seat that you’re trying to partner with.

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So, you have to stay close and you have to stay connected. That allows you to stay aligned. Then you can figure out the solutions that are going to help solve that business problem. You have to be agile. You have to be able to switch directions. When the business switches direction, you have to be able to switch direction. And I think too many times, IT organizations, they don’t stay connected. They believe that they’re trying to solve this business strategy, that they’re trying to solve the business’ problems. But then the business problems change, the strategies change, and they’re suddenly not connected and eventually they’re heading down the wrong direction for another three to six months, which is a lifetime in technology.

Read the entire interview and more in my new book on leadership in the information age, Tomorrow’s Jobs Today.

Harnessing Analytical Insights and Illuminating the Physical Realm of Dark Data – An Interview with Markus Lindelow of Iron Mountain

Harnessing Analytical Insights and Illuminating the Physical Realm of Dark Data – An Interview with Markus Lindelow of Iron Mountain

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


Markus Lindelow leads the IG and Content Classification Practice Group at Iron Mountain, the world’s largest information management company, where he’s been pioneering breakthrough analytic techniques for over a decade. He holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Saint Edwards University and consults across a broad set of industries. I interviewed him in November to discuss his thoughts on the evolution of metadata, content classification, AI, and how organizations are using the new pillars of data science to break down their silos, help customers get lean and discover the hidden value in their big data sets.

Markus, you work with all kinds of companies to help them better understand and address the often incomplete metadata tied to some of their most valuable information assets in the form of historical paper records and materials retained over decades. In many cases, institutional memory has been completely lost and they’re struggling to figure out whether to dispose of these business records, balancing costs of over retention with risks of untimely destruction. How does your team leverage diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics to make sense of what little data they might have to make informed decisions?

Our content classification process focuses on making the best use of the available metadata. This means classifying records with meaningful metadata as well as analyzing the classified inventory in order to create classification rules for records with little or no metadata. We have identified a number of attributes within the data that tend to correlate with classification conclusions. We assess the classified records associated with an attribute to create a profile that may inform a rule to classify the unclassified records sharing that same attribute…

If, for example, there are 100 cartons associated with pickup order XYZ, 90 of those cartons have been classified, and furthermore all 90 are classified to ABC100, can we create a rule to classify to ABC100 the 10 unclassified cartons belonging to pickup order XYZ? Clients may need to weigh the risk when applying this type of classification rule and the process may include a random sampling of cartons for physical inspection in order to verify the classification.

There’s usually a disconnect between the needs of information managers and legislatures which set retention periods for records. We see this in regulations where the granularity of both fixed and event based retention triggers complicates the practical management of records. Over the years, strategies like “big buckets” have attempted to lessen this challenge but even the best efforts are imperfect and carry their own risks. What can be done to better bridge the divide between the need for due diligence in retaining records and the business case for a more practical solution?

There are two pieces to the puzzle of records management: classification and retention. A records retention schedule needs to be straightforward enough to implement so that users can apply record codes to records. But the retention periods for the record classes need to be specific enough so that some types of records are not being over or under-retained because they are being grouped with other records…

Read the entire interview and more in my new book on leadership in the information age, Tomorrow’s Jobs Today.

Book Review: Infonomics – How to Monetize, Manage, and Measure Information As An Asset For Competitive Advantage by Douglas B. Laney

Are CFO’s finally ready to heed the advice of their Chief Data Officers and begin adding information assets to the balance sheet?

Although the commonly used quote “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” is regularly and erroneously misattributed to Victor Hugo, originating from his account of the French coup d’état of 1851 that brought Napoleon III to power, I feel it’s almost appropriate for Douglas B. Laney’s passionate argument on Infonomics. It’s an idea he’s been meticulously developing and arguing for almost two decades and has at last fully articulated in his latest book published by Taylor & Francis entitled Infonomics: How to Monetize, Manage, and Measure Information As An Asset For Competitive Advantage. Laney previously published his thoughts on Infonomics in Forbes back in 2012.

This brilliantly researched book, supported by industry giant Gartner, is steeped in both a mastery of information technology as well as economics, in particular accounting methodology and complementing business disciplines that range from supply chain economics to compliance frameworks.

Laney, with brevity and unfailing pragmatism, weaves his impressive understanding of the business of information, it’s flow and it’s enormous potential into a convincing pleading that I believe is a must read for not just the aspiring digerati, but any CFO, Chief Data Officer or executive hoping to survive and thrive in the Information Age.

Continue reading “Book Review: Infonomics – How to Monetize, Manage, and Measure Information As An Asset For Competitive Advantage by Douglas B. Laney”

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

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?

Read the entire interview and more in my new book on leadership in the information age, Tomorrow’s Jobs Today.

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

GDPR - General Data Protection Requirement - Information Governance Perspectives

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?

Read the entire interview and more in my new book on leadership in the information age, Tomorrow’s Jobs Today.