We’re pleased to bring you a series of interviews with some of the presenters at The Information Governance Conference 2018. The Information Governance Conference is the only conference designed from the ground up to help you strategically protect and extract value from your organization’s information. The Conference, going into its’ fifth year, brings together the top leaders in the emerging field of Information Governance. Learn more at https://www.infogovcon.com.
We had the honor of interviewing one of those top leaders in Information Governance: Gene Stakhov, Information Governance Solution Architect, enChoice Inc. (he’s also the President of the Metro New York City Chapter of ARMA International).
IGGuru: Gene, thank you for joining us today! Let’s start out with some perspective for our readers, why do you think that you were chosen to present at The Information Governance Conference 2018?
Gene Stakhov (GS): To put it simply, I practice what I preach. I have been advising clients – companies of varied size across a wide swath of vertical industries – on the hallowed virtues of an enterprise data governance model. I have seen first-hand the successes, the failures and the moments of epiphany (those are my favorite). It’s wonderful to be able to share these experiences with others at The Information Governance Conference 2018.
IGGuru: Who is the most influential information governance person in your life or thinking?
GS: My peers and fellow directors at the ARMA Metro New York City Chapter are a constant source of inspiration to me. Every Board meeting, every ARMA@Noon or ARMA@Nite event, are a reminder of how blessed we are to live in a city with such rich diversity and opportunity, from cutting-edge technology to the wonderful spectrum of unique and varied viewpoints and experiences. I benefit greatly from the creative energy that I draw being involved in ARMA chapter leadership.
IGGuru: Information Governance covers so much, what topic or domain do you feel is underutilized in organizations?
GS: Definitely, absolutely, positively one hundred percent: enterprise taxonomy! So few organizations actually put this horse ahead of the cart that I sometimes feel it’s a data pandemic waiting for its outbreak. Many thought leaders and decision makers seem to conflate technical tactics with governance strategy. One example is artificial intelligence, i.e, auto-classification, etc. These are wonderful but they are an end, not a means to it. Everything – including Watson itself – will only benefit from a well-defined enterprise data model. I believe the object-oriented approach to taxonomy development can be the data design blueprint that will enable and fortify the efficacy of all these wonderful technologies, now and tomorrow.
IGGuru: Information breaches seem rampant, name two things organizations must do to stop the threat.
GS: Organization leaders must take that evolutionary leap and truly change the fundamentals of their relationship with information. The priority is to acknowledge that information governance is a key, systematic component of business operations. Information is everywhere and part of everything, and there must be an acknowledged, transparent corporate strategy to deal with it. The next priority action item would be to designate a C-level individual whose primary task is to manage this corporate strategy.
IGGuru: What skills will information governance professionals need in the 2020s?
GS: InfoGov professionals will need to be far more technically skilled than the probable average level of these days. I would anticipate the need to be familiar with basic concepts in object-oriented coding – akin to what’s become recently dubbed “citizen coders” – as well as being familiar with the leading blockchain technologies of the time. Chances are by the mid-20’s there will already be a clear information governance-centric established niche blockchain platform. I would also anticipate the need to understand concepts in AI heuristics and algorithms. At a higher level, the skills of management – managing individuals and teams – will most likely also evolve as a new generation of younger, independent, creative and technical information professionals come into the fold.
IGGuru: How did you get into the information governance profession?
GS: I started out working in a boutique software company writing custom scanning applications. Eventually, as my point of view got higher, document imaging turned into document management – i.e, not just capture but all the issues around storage and retrieval. And then around 2004-2005 I got involved in a records management enablement project for a big NYC law firm, records-enabling a non-records repository. And that’s when the light bulb flashed… all of a sudden, I realize there was this whole group of people who were more concerned with not just storage, but life cycle! What happens *after* it’s stored and used beyond its useful lifespan? Such a simple question, but I had honestly never even thought of it before. That was definitely an “A-ha” moment for me. Fast forward to today, where the information that we deal with is so far beyond the conventional unstructured content of yesteryear. It’s been a fun journey, and I look forward to the next phases!
IGGuru: Attracting youth is a big part of growing any profession, how would you advise a young person to prepare for a job in information governance?
GS: I would reassure them that they have a lot to offer to the industry right from the get-go. I feel there is a misperception of the proverbial “old boys club” in many of our professional affiliations and I personally strive to ensure that this is not the case. Of course, there is a lot to learn for a new industry entrant – there always is, that’s a given. But this new generation that is being brought into the mix will be handed a solemn responsibility, not only to carry the current momentum of information governance thought leadership forward but to infuse it with their unique brand of technological savvy and sense of community.
IGGuru: Do you have any career regrets?
GS: There are times that I regret giving up on my programming pedigree by choosing to exchange straight software development in favor of a more holistic, solution-oriented approach to my consulting practice. Technology advances at such a breakneck pace, and I constantly feel I’m getting left further behind with each new toolkit or API that I read or hear about. I understand why I had to make the choice, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss heads-down development at times.
IGGuru: What do you dread going back to after this interview?
GS: Having to get up at the crack o’ dawn to walk my 5-month-old puppy!
IGuru: How cute! (shares puppy pictures) Ok, back to the interview… If you had to recommend one book for someone to read, what would it be?
GS: Cryptonomicon. I read that novel as a budding techie in the late 1990’s, and the years that followed were evidence of what a harbinger of the future it would prove to be – from data lakes to Bitcoin. It’s not life-changing or any kind of self-affirmation experience. It’s just a fun read, brilliantly weaving together concepts of hero-like fantasy and technology, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Neal Stephenson might actually be [Bitcoin creator] Satoshi Nakamoto.
IGGuru: How has the shift to Information Governance benefitted your client’s organizations?
GS: Truth be told, many of my clients are still on the cusp of understanding the role Information Governance plays – or will play – in their world. For those that have begun to manage the enterprise data ecosystem, the results are what one might expect … there is a renewed interest in the cache and credibility of information – not just data, but information. These organizations are the ones who are positioning themselves to maximize their investments in tactical processes like data pattern analysis and automatic document classification. It’s exciting to see the transformation, and it will be even better when they begin to truly account for the ROI.
IGGuru: What are you most excited about in the upcoming schedule for The Information Governance Conference 2018?
GS: Come on, throw me a softball why don’t ya … obviously, I’m most excited about my session! But I have looked over the list of speakers, and I think InfoGovCon outdid themselves yet again. I was thrilled to hear of the announcement of [ARMA CEO] Jocelyn Gunter as a keynote. The concept of cross-sectionality embodies the very nature of Information Governance, and few people in our industry are better qualified than Jocelyn to talk to this point.
IGGuru: We too are very excited for your session as well as Jocelyn Gunter’s. Gene, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today, it’s very appreciated.
GS: My pleasure. Have a wonderful day!
Gene Stakhov is Information Governance Solution Architect at enChoice (as well as President of the Metro New York City Chapter of ARMA International). He will be presenting as a part of The Information Governance Conference 2018 – learn more or register at https://www.infogovcon.com/.