3 Takeaways from the 2018 ARMA Fall IM Days

The 2018 edition of ARMA Fall IM days hosted by the local ARMA International chapter, ARMA NCR (Ottawa), had some great takeaways around Artificial Intelligence, integrating Information Management into digital business processes and using digital and design principles (i.e. iteration) in our work.

As a member of the local ARMA chapter board, I volunteered at Fall IM Days and attended many informative sessions. Here are my 3 takeaways from the sessions that I attended:

  1. “We should not invest in advanced AI technology without also investing in advancing society, businesses, and governments at the same pace. We have to advance people, not just technology.” Dr. Michael Smit, Dalhousie

A recurring theme I’ve noticed at ARMA sessions over the last year (i.e. the April 2018 session on “Source Code for Information Managers” presented by Laura Mason) is that we need to stop trusting computers (and Google!) and develop the skills necessary to understand and work with these new technologies. In particular, Dr. Smit stressed that data literacy and an understanding of accountability are essential for working with Artificial Intelligence. We need to understand how AI arrives at a solution and when using AI is appropriate. For example, is 80% accuracy acceptable for correctly assigning metadata to information?

  1. “We have tools but no solutions.” Ryan Kelly, Marine Atlantic

This presentation embodied the shift that many presenters spoke of towards user-centric design and achieving both accountability and transparency. Key to achieving this vision is implementing information management (IM) changes and tools together with business process improvements. When talking to their users, the IM team at Marine Atlantic heard that there had been a lot of tools and applications implemented, but without integration, the tools and applications were not solutions. Another component to this is that information (data, documents, whatever) should be treated holistically. Information, systems, rules, people all have to be considered when designing a solution.

  1. “Iterate!” Emily Gusba, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

We set ourselves up to fail when we expect that we can produce a perfect deliverable in a set amount of time. Rather, a better perspective to take, and to communicate to our users, is that our work is iterative. Creating a new retention schedule? No problem, it is an iteration! There will be new iterations as new information comes forward or things change. Chaining ourselves to an immutable output restricts our ability to enable the business and to put user needs ahead of the output. Take a moment to consider: how would IM and business interactions change if both parties understood that products (such as file plans) were iterative?

Overall, there were many great sessions and discussions had at ARMA Fall IM Days – can’t wait for next year!


Nicole Satchell is an information management professional who has experience in the federal government, municipal government, and non-profit organizations. She has worked on a variety of projects, including GCDOCS Information Architecture development and business process analysis projects. Ms. Satchell has a multifaceted educational background that speaks to interests in Records and Information Management, Archival Science, History and English Literature. She has a Masters of Archival Studies from the University of British Columbia.


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