Records Management & Blockchain

Using Blockchain for Records Management is one of the most straightforward, accessible, and effective use cases. As the effective use of Blockchain resolves in one move, many of the significant challenges that Records Managers face. Recently I hosted a short talk and a much longer online discussion for AIIM, and it was one in which I suspect I learned more from the attendees than they did from me. Yet on the surface, the interest of the Records Management community in Blockchain has seemed, at best, to be tepid. Scratch a little deeper, and I feel confident that Blockchain will be well on track to becoming an essential and, dare I say it, a revolutionary component in RM practices across the globe within the next few years.

Blockchain is used for many applications, from crypto to smart contracts in the supply chain. But at heart, all Blockchains do is create and preserve immutable audit trails (ledgers). Records, in theory at least, are immutable, and the accurate recording of their audit trail from creation to disposition is the core job of Record Managers. In short, RM & Blockchain have an awful lot in common. Not that this has gone unnoticed and is set to become an infrastructure component of any future RM system. Countries such as Poland, Georgia, and Sweden are making big moves to shift their Land Registries to Blockchain. Dubai is all in on Blockchain, and so too is China, seen through its BSN Platform initiative. And at a more granular level, technology vendors such as Sphereon, DeDoco, Connecting Software, Hyland, and Papyrus already offer Blockchain solutions for Information Management. 

Back to the AIIM discussion, my biggest surprise was the quality and depth of the debate. There was I, all set to break Blockchain down to its basic concepts; there opposite was the attendees asking the most profound, well-thought-out, and knowledgable questions. For example, ‘How could I implement Blockchain with Microsoft SharePoint?’ or ‘What are the implications of recording a group of records versus a single record on a Blockchain transaction’ to talking about the use Blockchain as an audit trail of metadata. In short, a practical discussion that, in its totality, encompassed and provided the piece parts for an implementation strategy. I say all this because just a couple of years ago, I don’t believe this conversation would have happened. As RM is not a sector or practice known for making or embracing radical change, that change is coming. Not just through embracing Blockchain as an immutable record keeper but through AI to help scale the massive challenge of understanding, tagging, and categorizing the tidal wave of information.

Most importantly, this is a much-needed change, and it’s good to see the community starting to embrace it. Yes, AI & Blockchain are coming for your RM jobs, but without skilled Record & Information Managers, they won’t work. Over time, embracing new tech should create more jobs to augment and elevate the role of RM, which is a very good thing indeed. 

If you are exploring Blockchain for Records or Information Management, let us know, as we would love to learn more.

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