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Insights

Revolutionizing Archives

May 8, 2019 • Sam Grabel

The Record Store of History: Building Archives for Corporate America

This month’s except from CEO Bruce Weindruch’s book, Start With the Future and Work Back: A Heritage Management Manifesto, examines the importance of corporate archives.

“At The History Factory, we believe that an archive is the starting place for finding meaning. But more importantly, it’s where you to go authenticate who you are as an organization. It provides undisputable evidence that the image you want to project, the values you espouse, and the reputation you’ve built over time are not only legitimate but completely warranted.

You want to prove that you’re an innovative company? Or that you’re a trusted service provider? Or that you’ve been more ecologically minded than any of your peers?

Well, then you’re going to have to offer up proof to sup­port those claims. And in order to find — or continue to preserve — that proof, you’re going to have to build and maintain a proper archive.

Once armed with carefully curated content, organizations can also generate highly strategic content that addresses a myriad of practical business challenges.

Pick your business objective of choice: enhance a brand, boost morale, reduce costs, accelerate innovation, or recruit new talent. And you’ll find that archives are often the linchpin that makes things happen within an organization.

The problem is that most corporations tend to see their archive as a communal dumping ground for every memo, photo­graph and corporate knickknack that’s ever seen the light of day.

That’s bad archival management. When properly designed and implemented, a corporate archive distills a vast inventory of historical data into a carefully curated catalog of content that can help any organization see where it’s been and where it’s headed.

First and foremost, all corporate archives should be graded on their overall usability. Can an organization’s decision-makers and communicators quickly and easily gain access to archival content when they need it — in the most efficient and intuitive way possible?

From day one, The History Factory has been continuously testing and building searchable archival solutions so that there were no barriers between our clients and their content.

I’m talking about pure on-demand access to your content. That’s what we’re after. My goal has always been to eliminate the gatekeepers and directly connect an organization to their content.

This has been a long-standing obsession of mine, with roots that reach all the way back to a three-year stretch in early 1970s, when I took some time off between high school and college to operate a record store in my hometown.

[…]

In my store, I curated an inventory made up of thousands of unique bits of content — i.e. record albums — knowing what my customers wanted. More importantly, I built a collection for customers who didn’t even know what they wanted until I made the connections for them.

[…]

So a good user-friendly corporate archive should be run like a record store. It’s all about arranging the content in ways that allow users to spot trends and make connections.

Archival research demands a similar approach, an open­ness to taking an object, a photo or a receipt and looking for the unforeseen connection — the two dots that everyone noticed but never thought to connect.”

To continue reading Bruce’s book, purchase a copy here.

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