Responding to challenges

PRISM International President-elect Chris Kelley talks about the changing nature of records and information management.

Chris Kelley, CEO of Cor365, Winston-Salem, N.C., has nearly three decades of experience in the commercial records and information management (RIM) industry. He began working for Cor365, then Twin City Records, in 1984.

Though Kelley has spent most of his career working with the Brown family at Cor365 and its predecessor companies, he also logged some time managing the Atlanta operations of SafeSite and Adams Data Management, also based in Atlanta. He describes these experiences as “running away from home.”

Of his time away from Cor365, Kelley says, “Both times Andy Brown was gracious enough (or crazy enough) to allow me back.”

Kelley says he’s thankful for his experience with all three companies, adding that his tenure in Atlanta “afforded me opportunities to grow and to experience things that I would never have experienced otherwise.”

His influence on the RIM industry extends well beyond the offices of Cor365, where he has spent the majority of his professional life, as he is a board member of organizations such as PRISM International, the Data Protection Association and National Records Centers, an alliance of more than 70 companies and agencies who collaborate to provide records management services across North America, Central America and Europe.

Kelley says his first experience with PRISM International dates back to 1986, when the group was still called the Association of Commercial Records Centers. “I remember fondly the opportunity to play tennis with Leo Pierce (who in 1969 founded the company that became Pierce Leahy Corp. in King of Prussia, Pa.) and the welcoming learning environment that was provided to someone like me who was just getting into the commercial records business,” he says. “Over the years I have learned most of what I know about this industry from some legends in the industry at the annual conferences. I won’t try to list them all, as I am sure I will forget someone, but they know who they are, and I appreciate the time they invested in teaching me the ropes.”

Kelley’s role with PRISM International will grow in prominence and responsibility later this year as he assumes the post of president at the association’s convention May 5-8 in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa.

In the following Q&A, he shares his thoughts on the RIM industry and his goals for PRISM during his presidency.

SDB: What are your goals for PRISM during your presidency?

Chris Kelley (CK): It is a very different time, and the industry has changed drastically in the last 30 years, but most things do change in that length of time.

What hasn’t changed, though, is the role that the association continues to play in promoting and providing an open forum for peer networking that is invaluable to all of us. There is much more to be learned today than there was 30 years ago. The need exists now more than ever to provide educational opportunities to both veterans and newbies through the many PRISM channels that attract our members to the conferences and provide valuable networking opportunities.

SDB: What PRISM initiatives are you most excited about as you prepare to take the presidency?

CK: The board recently reworked our strategic plan, and I am excited about being part of something that is continually trying to evolve and not be content to sit on the sidelines and watch as our world changes. We must work hard at remaining relevant to our client base and adjust to their demands as the way they manage information transitions to a digital format.

With the assistance of the vast knowledge base we have in our membership and the PRISM staff, the board is committed to providing continued quality educational opportunities to the membership at large.

SDB: Please tell me about the recent changes to the PRISM International Privacy+ Certification program. How would you describe members’ response to Privacy+? How have consumers of RIM services responded?

CK: The Privacy+ Certification continues to gain traction, and I feel sure that as the number of adopters grows the value that this third-party certification provides to those certified will be seen as a necessity. Currently, I feel that too many have not yet seen the value and view it as an unnecessary additional expense.

More and more prospects and clients are requesting proof of third-party facility and security audits. The product that PRISM offers its members has become a part of [Cor365’s] sales and marketing process. It allows us to tangibly demonstrate that we are indeed committed to the confidentiality, security and protection of their information.

SDB: How would you characterize the current regulatory climate regarding data security and records retention? Do you foresee any additional legislation or regulations governing data security in the next one to five years?

CK: I feel certain they will continue to change and will present additional requirements.

SDB: What effect do you think the high-profile Target breach will have on regulatory efforts?

CK: I am not sure you can point to any single event, but the Target incident was just one more example of what we as an industry need to be paying attention to. Clients entrust us every day with their most critical business information, and there are some brilliant people out there who waste their talents on trying to make their millions at the expense of others.

Regulation and governance have now become household words in our industry, and the only constant in regard to either is change. As new regulations are put into place, new operational challenges will be faced along with the adoption of new security measures. The challenge is to give information users (our clients) the instant and convenient access they want while also keeping their information secure and confidential. Then, regardless of what regulatory and governance practices are enacted, the aforementioned brilliant cyber-criminal will figure out a way to once again benefit at the expense of others.

SDB: How has your company responded to the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) omnibus security and privacy rule? How about your clients?

CK: We consider ourselves blessed as we actually have a security and compliance officer on staff who takes care of the bulk of these items. We are finding this to be well-accepted by our clients and our prospects as it demonstrates our commitment to the security and confidentiality of the information they store with us, regardless of whether it is in paper form or electronic form.

As I mentioned previously, the rules and regulations regarding data security are being updated regularly, and it is nice to be in a position to have someone focused on paying close attention to those changes and taking the lead on communicating with our clients.

SDB: What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for information management industry in the next one to five years? The greatest opportunity?

CK: I actually think that these are one in the same. The greatest challenge is responding to the reduction in the reliance that the marketplace has on paper. We should all be looking for new revenue streams to replace the reduced paper storage and related activity. Therein lays the greatest opportunity. As we search for that revenue replacement, it forces us to re-engineer ourselves, and only good things can come from a deep self-evaluation and assessment.

For many, the opportunities lay in elevating their digital service offerings. For others, it may be an increased level of professional services and consulting.

Businesses are struggling to keep pace with the rapid increase of information they are required to manage, and while the larger companies may have the staff to guide them through this monumental task, many small to midsize companies are begging for some guidance and assistance.

We call ourselves information professionals, why not step up and share our knowledge with our clients and prospects?

SDB: What services hold the most promise for RIM services companies in the next one to five years and why? What about in the next 10 years?

CK: I do think that electronic content management (ECM) opportunities exist today, demonstrating the ability to assist our clients and prospects in managing information even though it may never be relegated to a paper format.

There will also be opportunities in the business process management (BPM) arena where clients can benefit from assistance in streamlining the information handling processes while staying focused on secure access and confidentiality.

Data are expensive to maintain in any format, and if we can help a client understand the cost of data duplication and the increased exposure with each duplicate, we are adding great value.

SDB: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being involved with the PRISM board? The most rewarding?

CK: I’m not sure I consider anything thus far as a challenge. That question might be more appropriate to ask me after the conference in 2015.

I have been able to spend some quality time with some quality people. The most rewarding part for me has been the insight that I get from the international contingent on the board. I too often have only been concerned with what is impacting my little world, and it has been very eye opening and interesting to learn what is going on in the information management “world.” It is more than just what is going on here in the U.S.

Hopefully we can continue to promote and support our international members and ensure that they value their membership in the association.

SDB: Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to as the organization’s members prepare to convene in California for the annual conference in May? Do you have any advice for attendees to ensure they make the most of this year’s event and their membership in general?

CK: It will be a pleasure to see Nate (Campbell, current PRISM International president) get to do something that I’m not sure has been done before, which is to officiate two annual conferences in a row as president. I feel sure he will do a great job this time as practice makes perfect. He actually has done a great job, and due to our change in the term year from calendar year to conference year he has had the “pleasure” of serving an additional six months.

As far as advice, I would say be sure you make your plans now to attend and actively participate and network. Come prepared to not only learn but to share. Don’t assume that you cannot share information with others or that you cannot learn something from others.

Chris Kelley is CEO of Cor365, Winston-Salem, N.C., and president-elect of PRISM International, headquartered in Chicago. He can be contacted via email at

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