The Full Circle of Information Governance
Warren Lederer, VP Solutions
and Chief Relationship Officer
Very often I find business leaders to be single-purposed and unwilling to “leave it at the office.” Warren Lederer, VP Solutions and Chief Relationship Officer at EDM Americas, is a different sort of cat. I’m not saying he isn’t dedicated to task—he certainly is—but he also takes time to coach his local cross-country and track team, and is active in his church in Mount Olive, NJ. I asked him about his ability to balance work life with personal life.
“I have a very good balance,” said Warren. “I have the flexibility to take my work activities and extracurricular activities and mix them all together. Can I turn off my job at 5:30? No, because marketing never really turns off. But I’ve been able to create a delicate balance between my passion for my work, and for my outside activities Plus, I have four daughters!” he said. That’s enough of a job right there.
It just keeps getting more interesting. Warren’s first job was for United Way. “I have a heart for non-profit charity,” he said. “But I found out pretty quickly that you never make much money at a not-for profit,” he laughed. He went on to work for Moore Business Forms (which is now part of R.R. Donnelly). He helped create the customer service and support organization at Moore, and then thought of building an end-to-end print and fulfillment practice for Moore, which became a separate business unit. Moore saw fit to take some of its key leaders—Warren among them—and send them to the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management (look it up; it’s pretty impressive stuff). “It was sort of a think-tank,” he said, modestly.
He then went on to build a financial services sales force, but not a traditional one. “We didn’t just go in and ‘quote and hope,’” as he described it. “It was more of what we called a true management solution.” He explained that it involved consulting and a great deal of customer understanding.
“Now, it’s an outward-looking position. I’m very much focused on working with the sales team. My forte is strategy development, working on clients’ pain points and building solutions for them,” Warren said. “We took the name ‘sales and marketing’ out of our company and replaced it with ‘solutions.’” Knowing Warren, I believe this is a fact.
The overall subject of this chat is information governance, Warren reminded me (more than once, BTW) and underscored the fact that governance is not a one-off-solution. “It has to be carried throughout the organization, whether it’s in the creation of documents, the storage of documents or the sharing of documents… it all has to be tied together.” I’ll tell you one thing—Warren is serious about this stuff.
What’s In a Name?
Warren’s next gig was with a company called “Diversified Information Technologies.” Not a bad name, I thought. Certainly opens the door for outreach and stretch… could mean anything. I told him I’d been down that road, renaming businesses so we weren’t so “locked in” to a specific area, and could adjust as needed to market trends. Made sense to me. (Of course, Diversified is now EDM Americas.)
Warren had, like many of us do, a career path that led through unexpected terrain, financial services being key among them, but also forays into healthcare. The leveling agent in his career, though, has always been the conversion of physical and digital information into useful knowledge for better customer experiences. “From cradle to grave, and back again,” as Warren puts it.
“It’s all about ‘communicate, capture and preserve,’” said Warren. “There are a lot of companies that are good at one or two of those things. Very few are good at all of them.” Warren described the lifecycle of information: A company sends out, say, a financial statement. The recipient replies, either electronically or by mail, and then there has to be some action taken. It might require storage. It might require another response of some kind. It’s a complex web of interaction. But this is information management in the fullest sense—developing the self-fulfilling cycle that closes the gaps between creation of information and the value of using the information. So, Warren said, most companies need several vendors to complete that cycle. If you can find a vendor that can do it all, you’re much better off. Warren thinks that is his mission. That way, “A client doesn’t have to worry about the workflow or the interplay between the creation and application of information. They don’t have to handle the nuts and bolts of making that happen,” he explained.
He also pointed out that by having two or three different vendors handle your data, you exponentially increase the danger of security loss and the risk of security exposure. When you can deal with a single vendor, Warren feels, you can deal with one security audit and significantly reduce exposure. “That is a huge value proposition,” he said.
I asked Warren whether he thought information governance was a “trainable” thing, that employees could learn to do on their own, or whether it should be an automated process first and foremost. “Well, we try to automate as much as possible. We like to rely on rights-based access that is tracked though the system, and eliminate as many of the manual steps as possible throughout the process.”
That brings up the subject of the role of records managers. I suggested that the days of the old-school records manager—the person down in the basement with the file cabinets—have long since passed. “The role of the records manager has changed significantly,” Warren agreed, “In the old days, it was fairly easy. There was a document, the document was qualified, it was put in a box and stored in a preserve center. But now anything can be a record—an email, any electronic content, information on shared file stores,” he added. And that makes records managers a greater part of the compliance process, he reminded me.
“In those companies—such as financial service especially—that are ‘too big to fail,’ there is much more investment in compliance,” he stated.
So that brings our conversation full circle. Information management is at the very tip-top of corporate strategy. That makes information governance one of today’s most crucial decision points.
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