Legal & Regulatory

Business Analysis: IG Investments In A Post-Regulatory World

December 9
6:00 AM 2016

The humankind witnessed many shifts and unexpected developments for the year 2016. The drumbeats for nationalism from different venues expose an advocacy that is accelerating with renewed momentum: calls to reduce the size and functions of government, notably in areas requiring enforcement of regulations against corporations.

Together, these developments will have a dramatic and adverse impact on the business value for information governance as part of corporate compliance programs. Yet in 2017 and beyond, a new, compelling business case for information governance is poised to be launched for those companies wise enough to recognize the opportunity.

For decades, the strongest justification for records management/information governance was the importance of preserving business records required to adhere to public laws and regulations. "Compliance," however, never succeeded at fully justifying the funding required to stand up and maintain an effective program. In nearly every company, budget requests were slashed as companies repeatedly decided to "take the risk" and not properly maintain their records.

The emergence of digital capabilities fueled important shifts in how corporate compliance programs were justified. First, corporate business records in a digital format are more accessible to enforcement investigations. Violations could be detected digitally, through real-time supervision of digital corporate data, such as SEC supervision of market trading. Second, digital records could be more easily shared among governments, enabling cross-border investigations and enforcements in highly regulated (and often complex) industries and markets. Nations no longer acted entirely alone, and the trends moved toward greater international enforcement collaboration. Both of these shifts have made it easier for information governance to justify the spending on their work, as well as related improvements to corporate compliance programs.

Now, however, things are shifting. The United States provides just one example: Plans being drafted by the controlling political party call for freezing or reducing hiring of government employees (with emphases on enforcement divisions), delete or render ineffective regulations that govern various large industries, and reverse programs that demand strict compliance with public regulations. Any success in achieving these plans will undercut compliance as an IG spending justification, perhaps dramatically.

Those calling for nationalism must, necessarily, also reject the interdependencies that have been achieved in cross-border enforcement. So, simply stated, if government is not going to enforce the rules, why bother investing in the related IG services if the records will never be requested? Why assure the integrity and security of our business records at great expense if the record themselves will never be placed into question?

Offering compliance alone as justification for information governance will simply not be sufficient. But despite these shifts, there is actually a more compelling business case for information governance -- now more than ever.

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