Introducing this session was ARMA International’s Executive Director, Marilyn Bier. She opened the conversation by saying that over the past few years, Records and Information Management (RIM) has emerged from the shadows as more and more organizations begin to realize just how important it is to their governance, risk management, and compliance efforts. In that spirit, it falls to the individual professionals to rise to that occasion and to help our organizations evolve from within.

Enter Doug Allen, CRM, ARMA International’s 2009-10 President. To be honest, Allen didn’t enter right away. Instead, his session began with a video, highlighting ARMA International’s tradition of excellence in RIM education. And apparently, that history goes back to 1955 -- with videos presented from the very earliest days, touting the paperless office of the future, and a cute animated sheet of paper called “Scrappy” who served as one of the original mascots of the association. Sound and black and white video changes pace and we enter the modern world of information management, showcasing the association’s active Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook and iConference sites (among other educational efforts). The underlying message: this is not your father’s ARMA International.

The Future of the Profession

Allen follows the tradition, asking the crowd about the future of the profession. Do we envision a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic future, or one more closely aligned with the Terminator series, except where the software takes over instead of the machines? Chances are more likely that we’ll have an exciting and challenging future as leadership opportunities continue to surface in this ever-changing business environment.

In the most-tweeted quote (using the #arma09 tag) of the event so far, Allen set the tone of the conversation with lines from The Departed, “I don’t want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me.” As professionals, we must take those steps. Where we as a profession will be in the future depends on where we as individuals will be.

Focus on ARMA International’s Core Competencies

We must take opportunities like this to enhance our knowledge and skills in several key areas. The areas Allen refers to are ARMA International’s core competencies. They provide a framework for ARMA International to build education, but they also present a roadmap toward individual growth.

By using ARMA International’s RIM Self-Assessment, information management professionals can assess their current position of strength in core areas such as Information Technology, RIM Practices, Risk Management, Business Functions, Leadership, and Communications and Marketing. Allen then uses each of these competency domains to highlight sessions where attendees can find education today to help advance their careers - and in turn the profession - tomorrow.

Learn about GARP

Allen closed with two direct points of professional practice he’d like to see conference attendees take to heart immediately. First, that they use ARMA International’s Standards and Best Practices as they improve their programs. These tested publications have helped organizations by providing solid principles to build upon.

Second, that they take time to learn more during this conference about GARP -- ARMA International’s Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles. The principles give us a common language as we work with organizations, legislators and the judiciary. They give us a set of principles that help others understand the critical importance and basic tenets of proper information governance.

With the GARP concept catching on in the media, government, and business, it’s only a matter of time before their executives want to know more and are ready to embrace good information governance. After all, Allen says, if we are to lead in the future, we must start now.