Williams Records Management - Information Governance Solutions

Strengthening Protections and Embracing Connections – An Interview with Douglas C. Williams of Williams Data Management

Strengthening Protections and Embracing Connections – An Interview with Douglas C. Williams of Williams Data Management

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


DougWilliams - Information Governance PerspectivesDouglas C. Williams is CEO of Williams Data Management and Chairman of the Board for the Vernon Chamber of Commerce. He has over thirty years of experience helping Fortune 500 clients with their document storage, destruction and data security needs. I had an opportunity to sit down with him earlier this year in Los Angeles and collect his thoughts on data protection, business continuity, civic responsibility and professional growth.


Doug, your family has been involved in the Records and Data Management business for the better part of a century and you’ve seen a lot of players come and go. How do small businesses like Williams remain resilient in the disruptive world of digital transformation, and what should executives be thinking about in terms of their long-term information management strategies?

Commercial Records Management, the holistic approach at 50,000’, includes the digital component, as well as the legacy hard copy component.  Our transition in the early 1980s into the commercial records center business from industrial freight warehousing and distribution, witnessed similar disruptions.  Those disruptions had mostly to do with the shift to the service economy from the industrial/manufacturing economy.  Our client base includes enterprise size businesses as well as mid-size businesses and SMBs.  Executives in charge of information assets need to recognize the holistic scope of those information assets, whether they be structured or unstructured, and apply the information governance and regulatory guidelines to each equally.  Knowing that digital technologies will change at light-speed, CEOs and their executive teams need to be fully knowledgeable and ready for changes in forensic discovery and know the impact of retention milestones for each type of information asset.  We all know that text messages, email, and all social media posts have a permanent residency somewhere to be found.  Each and every business, large or small, has to accept a contingent liability regarding the action or inaction of maintaining a strict policy regarding their information management policies – irrespective of the resident media.

In 2015, you were interviewed by Adam Burroughs of Smart Business Los Angeles and highlighted a growing alarm over data breaches. Here we are just a few years later and data protection is a daily news flash. With California recently passing the California Consumer Privacy Act, do you still feel the majority of organizations are taking security and privacy for granted or are you now starting to see a trend toward proactive management of data?

I do.  They are taking for granted it won’t happen to them, and if it does, they are insured.  But guess what, that is delusional.  Again, the proactive plan requires a holistic approach to information management.  The IT department knows how to protect the data, but typically do not know why, i.e., what are the governing rules for each type of data. That is the province of the CIO or the Director of Information Governance, or the General Counsel if an enterprise size firm. The breaches in the headlines are preventable; however, because of human errors in social media, emails, texts, data sharing, lack of encryption and the like, entryways into personal information data sets are available.  In our case at Williams Data Management, because we are social media users, we installed front end data intrusion software, pioneered and patented by Oasis Technologies, known as TITAN, which blocks over 500,000 intrusions attempts per week from getting into our networks.

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The Olympics of Privacy in Brussels!

Debating Ethics: Dignity and Respect in Data Driven Life, the 40th Annual Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners

Two Americans walk into a EU Privacy Conference…

Just a few weeks ago, a colleague reached out and reminded me “the Olympics of Privacy” were being held at the EU Parliament in Brussels in late October, and also if I’d like to attend. Well, how the heck am I supposed to turn down an invitation like that? After all, this is the year of GDPR, the NYDFS, the new California Privacy legislation and the ICDPPC has leaders like Mark ZuckerbergSundar Pichai, Tim-Berners Lee, Jagdish Singh Khehar and even the King of Spain all lining up to share their thoughts.

We want to stimulate an honest and informed discussion about what digital technology has done and is doing to do to us as individuals and as societies, and to consider future scenarios. We want to better understand the impact of technology on people of all generations, in all parts of the world, including the way people think, interact with others, develop their opinions, create art and write, how they buy and sell and how they participate in civic life.  – Privacy Conference Statement

Mark and Sundar are likely showing up because they realize the stiff penalties now associated with data security and privacy violations and the rest of the speakers realize that we are on the cusp of a digital and ethical revolution of sorts, one which will affect generations to come. In fact, Debating Ethics: Dignity and Respect in Data Driven Life is probably the most important privacy conference of the 21st century. My wife Abby Moscatel, an attorney and ethicist heard about this lineup and quickly said, yeah… I’m coming with you to this one!

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