Self-registering, self-managing records, a reality or just a pipe-dream?

by Frank 28. September 2011 01:15

The records management process has been a bothersome burden since primitive man first began cutting notches in sticks and tying knots in string to record things. You can just imagine the excuses for bad record-keeping a few hundred thousand years ago.

“The dog ate the string.”

“The stick caught fire.”

Unfortunately, modern man has millions more things to manage than his ancestor and no more time (I imagine our ancestors were pretty busy just staying alive and catching food). In fact our ancestors had a few advantages. It is pretty easy and very fast to tie a knot or cut a notch and no training is required. Additionally, notches and knots are naturally multi-lingual and multi-cultural and avoid all the language difficulties we are faced with today. Knots and notches are also pretty durable (if kept away from the fire and the dog) and lend themselves to long term preservation. We on the other hand struggle with the need for initial and ongoing training and overcomplicated software and processes and paper and cardboard that disintegrates after the first serious storm cause leaks to appear in the roof.

Basically, modern man has a much more difficult job to do with harder-to-use tools. Is this what we call progress?

So, is the solution fully-automatic, self-registering, self-classifying, self-managing records? Is it possible? Do we have the technology? Do we really want to rid ourselves of this burdensome task?

In my mind the answer to all of the above questions is yes but then I do have an active imagination. I really do envision a world where the records manage themselves and all we have to do is search and find what we need. In fact, the next phase should really include some really very clever ‘push’ algorithms such that we no longer even need to search, the system correctly anticipates what we need before we need it, “Bacon and eggs for breakfast sir with a little wholemeal toast and the files on the Clark-Deakin case?”

Unfortunately I am also a software designer and developer of records management systems so when I say silly things like the above I eventually have to follow rhetoric with product.

I already have most of the core components and technology and algorithms and most are already in use, in various stages of development, in our current product range. The ‘fully-automatic’ part of the process is already evident with products like RecCapture and GEM but market acceptance of the fully-automatic paradigm is still a major problem so we have been reluctant to get too far ahead of the curve. I am prone to the disease of designing products about five years before people are ready to use them because I often let my enthusiasm and imagination over-rule a more conservative view of what the market is actually ready to accept. This is probably because:

a)      I am the owner of the company; and

b)      Designing and developing application software is still fun and exciting and even more so if you use your imagination to its full.

In subsequent blogs I will further elaborate on how this abolition of the records management burden is not only possible but probable in the near term barring a total collapse of the world financial system because Greeks don’t pay their taxes and banks give money to anyone in good times all the time hoping that the government will bail them out if it all goes belly up.



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