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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