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The rise of the CPO

 Client Services Director & Partner

Just when you thought you’ve heard every CxO title imaginable along comes another one – the Chief Preservation Officer (CPO).

Actually the position isn’t new – CPOs currently direct the preservation efforts of a small number libraries, film studios, government agencies, and academic institutions around the world. But that’s about to change.
Corporate Responsibility Void

Executives everywhere talk about the information economy, regulatory compliance, and the importance of retaining information assets – but talk is cheap. When called to task over their stategy to preserve and protect information assets, their responses are predictable – they’re either behind on planning or they haven’t even started yet. While this isn’t true of every organization, it certainly applies to an alarming number of them.

I’m shocked by the number of F2000 organizations that lack a group or individual responsible for the preservation, tracking, protection, and restoration of information assets. What about Content Managers? In response to the content explosion of the 90s, some companies created the shortsighted role of a Content Manager primarily responsible for overseeing the production of new [web] content. Content Managers, usually editors by trade, simply aren’t equipped with the domain expertise of digital archivists.

I’m not going to dive into the complexity of digital preservation in this blog, but suffice to say it’s a complex undertaking that extends far beyond the bits and bytes approach of today’s data retention products. As any archivist will tell you, data retention by itself – even for periods as short as 2-3 years – is not enough. Companies need to plan for (and invest in the infrastructure to support) the eventual retrieval and display of their information assets. For that to happen, those assets need a voice in the boardroom.

Just as the CIO moved from the wings of corporate operations to center stage over the past few years, over the next few so too will the CPO. In an upcoming report of the same title, I’ll explore the role, responsibilities, and drivers behind senior management’s newest member – the CPO.

This post was originally published in Data Mobility Group’s first blog, “Perspectives on Storage”, on February 23rd, 2004.

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