Presentation of the 2003 Leahy Award to Bruce Miller


Acceptance Remarks
Bruce Miller


Let me please thank you all very much for this award. I feel deeply honoured and privileged to carry on the tradition and reputation of the Leahy legacy. I would like to share two things with you that I believe are very very important. I’ve now spent the past 13 years of my life developing electronic recordkeeping, and the time for e-records is now at hand.


The first thing I’d like to share with you is "Where are we". Where are with electronic recordkeeping?  There are three distinct stages to reach our goal of everyday e-records.


In stage 1, we had to build the technology. We're done. Like any software development, we had to do it 2 or three times to get it right. It took 13 years, but the technology now does what it is supposed to do. The technology works. There is a strong set of standards both in the USA and overseas. There is a healthy variety of competitors and alternative approaches to e-records.


Stage 2. Get the technology in the right hands. In the early years, a handful of mostly small Canadian startups took all the risks, invested all the capital, and entered the market long before there was a market ready to sustain them. The average size of an e-records vendor was under 30 people. Large business and governments could not, would not, and did not, take a risk on such small and unstable businesses with questionable long-term viability. Now take a look at the market. In just the past year, Tarian was acquired by the world’s largest computer company, IBM. Truearc was acquired by Documentum, who just this past week was swallowed up by EMC. FileNET and other large companies are now hard at work developing their own e-records capabilities. e-Records technology is now in the hands of large, stable technology suppliers with global reach and influence. e-records has found its way into core business software that runs corporate America each and every day. And not a moment too soon.


Stage 3. Implement it. Prove to the world that it works, and the benefits of electronic recordkeeping can be realized. We're not done. We've barely begun. Whatever happened to the Navy Marine Corp Intranet? A promising and exciting project, with a commitment of e-records for 400,000 users. What about the US Air Force? They’ve evaluated and selected two different early-generation e-records technologies, only to retreat and begin all over again.

Let me tell you how we will know when we've implemented, and implemented successfully. In some organization, thousands, tens of thousands of desktop users will be declaring records on a daily basis, as a part of their everyday business processes. All declared records will have a correctly assigned classification code, with a 95% or higher accuracy rate. And the corporate Records Manager will be routinely scheduling and destroying electronic records each and every month, all in full accordance with applicable regulations. The volume of stored email and other e-records will be shrinking, because large-scale, accountable destruction will be happening routinely. That's how we'll know we’ve achieved the goal of electronic recordkeeping, and I will not rest until we realize it.


Now for the second thing I'd like to share with you. We are not ready. We have the technology, but as an industry, we are not ready to deliver it. I make three observations that lead me to this concern.


First, the customers are confused. They do not understand what electronic recordkeeping really means, or the impact it will have on their businesses. Let me tell you what I heard just this week from the executive committee of one of America's major financial institutions. I hear this all the time, particularly from the banking sector:

  •     We are in full compliance with all our regulations, and been compliant for 2 years.
  •     We're OK with our records - we just keep everything forever.


You're all aware of the SEC and Sarbanes Oxley regulations that call for recordkeeping to be applied to electronic information. There's something going on out there I've come to call the "3 & 6 Syndrome". Compliance solution providers, many of whom are exhibiting here at ARMA this week, carry out exotic analysis of email content to come up with a retention period of either 3 years or 6 years. That's it. Nothing else. That's recordkeeping. Their job is done, and the requirements have been met. Companies like Tumbleweed, iLumin, and Zantaz asked their customers "Do you need anything more than this?" The answer was "No". These solution providers, their customers, and the IT analysts advising them both, do not grasp the true significance of event-driven disposition, or legal holds.


My second concern. There are not enough skills to advise and guide even a small fraction of the businesses that need it. I'd like everyone in this room to ask yourselves - "Can you advise a business how to implement electronic recordkeeping?" Can you answer these questions that businesses are asking each and ever day?

  •     How do we decide what is and is not a record?
  •     My regulators seem to be OK with my "3 & 6". Why should I be concerned?
  •     What business policies do I need to put in place to support e-records?
  •     What is the first thing I do to implement e-recs? The 2nd thing? The 3rd?


Businesses are reluctant to invest in e-records technology because they do not know the answers to these critical questions. They are desperate for people with these kinds of skills:

  •  Formulate sound business practices that support the technology
  •  Guide IT in building a Declaration and classification strategies and techniques
  •  How to make electronic recordkeeping part of the business culture
  •  A means of monitoring and adapting e-records implementations as the organization changes.
  • How to schedule electronic records


There are not enough Cohassets, Millicans, or Records Improvement Institutes to go around. There are not enough Bob Williams, Jim Coulsens, or Dennis Millicans. There are not enough people in this room to even begin to satisfy the need. What are we going to do about this? More importantly, what is the ICRM going to do about this?


And finally, my third concern. There is little time. If we pause to study this, it will be too late. If we embark on a training program to develop the skills, it will be too late. Regulations are quickly closing in on corporate America. Each regulation has a deadline that must be met, and most deadlines are around the corner. Companies are spending money NOW to get the technology and get ready – they have no option to wait. Ergo, you have no option to wait. Ready or not, they have to implement this technology, now. Ready or not, you have to implement it, or they’ll somehow do it without you. One of my favourite businesss management maxims is the old "Ready, Fire, Aim". We do not have time to aim. We need to get to it, and learn and formalize as we go.


Ladies and gentlemen of the ICRM, I have worked long and hard to deliver this technology to your doorstep. With this award, you've recognized that this was my challenge, and for that, I thank you. The challenge of implementing this technology is far greater, far broader, and far more important than my challenge ever was. This challenge is yours.