Records Management in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Challenges and the Way Forward

Records Management in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Challenges and the Way Forward

Adeyinka Tella, Oluwakemi Titilola Olaniyi, Aderinola Ololade Dunmade
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6618-3.ch001
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The chapter looked at records management in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) with the challenges and the way forward. The chapter discussed the industrial revolutions, records management, and the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), and described the advancement in records management in the 4IR based on the 4IR tools and technologies including artificial intelligence, blockchain, internet of things (IoT), robotics, and big data. The chapter also identified and discussed the benefits of technological advancement in the management of records; challenges of records management at the wake of 4IR and charted the way forward. In the context of document and records management, and taking into account all characteristics of the 4IR technologies and tools as well as its underlying technologies and concepts, the chapter concluded that the 4IR tools can be used to save time to create and process records, secure records from being damaged or destroyed, confirm the integrity of records, among others.
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Ever before and even now, part of the determinants of organizations’ success is the effective and efficient management of records. Records management is the supervision and administration of records regardless of format. It is all about using efficient and economical methods to create, use, maintain, retain, preserve, and dispose official records. ARMA International, a leading professional association for those who manage records and information, defines it as the “systematic control of records all through their life span (ARMA, 2013; Giordano, 2019). It is on organization responsibility dedicated or committed to the management of information in organization all through its life span, from time of creation or development to its consequential disposition. The (International Standard Organization, ISO 15489-1: 2001,p.7): conceived Records Management (RM) as the discipline of management that sees to the effective and methodical control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, such as the process of capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about operational activities and transactions in the form of records. Irrespective of the definitions and meanings, there is always the reflection of management of information for the achievement of organisations’ success.

Records management activities include but not limited to the creation, receipts, maintenance, use and disposal of records (ISO 15489-1, 2001, p. 7). It also has to do with identifying, classifying, storing, securing, retrieving and tracking, and destroying or permanently preserving records. In view of this, records are content that records a business transaction in organisation. The process of classifying and annotating texts, photographs, may exist in contracts, memos, paper files, electronic files, reports, emails, videos, and instant message logs or databases’ records. Records in form of paper may be stored in physical boxes on-premises or at a storage facility. Digital records may be stored on in-house media or in the cloud.

An organization’s records preserve aspects of the memory of the institution. When determining the extent to which records can be kept in organisation, their capacity for re-use is supreme and cardinal. In organizations, several records are kept as evidence of activities, transactions, and decisions. Evidently, the motive behind records management is to assist an organisation to keep the essential document and make them accessible both for business operation and compliance audit.

Management of records in organization is not new because it has been around us for many years. It has become an integral part of the functioning of individual organisations and to society as a whole (Lappin, 2020). However, the advancement in technologies has resulted into the radical and primordial change in the society thereby leading to rudimentary and critical change in records management practices. The world has witnessed different revolutions beginning from the first through second and third industrial revolutions. The world is now at the verge of fourth industrial revolution. All these revolutions in one way or the other have impacted the way and manner in which records are managed in the organizations. Therefore, what obtained in the management of records in the first, second, third and the current fourth industrial revolution differs considerably.

The fourth industrial revolution in which we are or which some thinkers will say we are about to enter is a revolution that is affecting or will affect all aspects of humans’ lives including management of records. We currently now witness advances in the management of records in organization using numerous emerging advanced technologies. While scholars have looked at various perspectives in the management of records, they have not considered examining the issue that surround record management in the fourth industrial revolution. An era where management of everything will be different including records. Since, several disruptive technologies are now available majority of which will impact management of records. It is therefore considered important to prepare the mind of records management experts and also create awareness regarding transformation in records management introduction by the new era. Hence, this chapter considers this development and examine the management of records in fourth industrial revolution, and attempts to discuss the various emerging technologies being used to manage records, draw out the benefits of using these emerging technologies in managing records, identified and discusses the associated challenges of using advanced technologies brought by 4IR in managing records and then projecting into the future in terms of drawing out the way forward.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Artificial Intelligence: This is referred to as the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. It is sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals. Artificial intelligence it the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. The term may also be applied to any machine that exhibits traits associated with a human mind such as learning and problem-solving. The acronym is usually AI.

Fourth Industrial Revolution: It is a new era that builds and extends the impact of digitization in new and unanticipated ways. The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another. It is a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technology advances commensurate with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions. It is a way of describing the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. In other words, it is an era characterized by the fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds, as well as the growing utilization of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless technologies, among others has ushered in a new era of economic disruption with uncertain socio-economic consequences for Africa.

Internet of Things (IoT): the internet of things abbreviated as IoT is the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. It is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Similarly, it can be referred to as the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data.

Records Management: Records management, also known as records and information management, is an organizational function devoted to the management of information in an organization throughout its life cycle, from the time of creation or inscription to its eventual disposition. Similarly, it is the supervision and administration of digital or paper records, regardless of format. Records management activities include the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal of records. In this context, a record is content that documents a business transaction. In the same vein, it can be described as responsibility for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.

Big Data: Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it's not the amount of data that's important. It is data with a huge size; a term used to describe a collection of data that is huge in volume and yet growing exponentially with time. In short such data is so large and complex that none of the traditional data management tools are able to store it or process it efficiently. In other words, it is a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large it is difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques. In most enterprise scenarios the volume of data is too big or it moves too fast or it exceeds current processing capacity.

Records: The International Standard Organisation (ISO) defined records as information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. Similarly, the International Council of Archives (ICA) defined a record as recorded information produced or received in the initiation, conduct or completion of an institutional or individual activity and that comprises content, context and structure sufficient to provide evidence of the activity.

Robotics: Robotics is the intersection of science, engineering and technology that produces machines, called robots, that substitute for (or replicate) human actions. Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. It resembles characteristics of a robot, especially in being stiff or unemotional. On the other hand, a robot is a machine designed to execute one or more tasks automatically with speed and precision. Expressly, robotics is the study of robots; while robots are machines that can be used to do jobs. Some robots can do work by themselves. Other robots must always have a person telling them what to do.

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