DRM expands records management facility

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1 April 2005 | 0

Data & Records Management (DRM) has completed a EUR9m investment in its new records management facility in Blanchardstown, Dublin. It also announced an additional EUR6m to expand its storage capacity and double its headcount over the next three years.

DRM manages the secure storage of archive documents, electronic and magnetic media (including CD ROMs, critical disks, video, microfiche, tape and voice recordings) and active files. Its current turnover is around EUR7m and has 750 clients.

DRM was started as a family-run business by Des Rogers in 1983 and now employs 55 people in Ireland. It was bought three years ago by P&O Transeuropean, the logistics arm of P&O, only to change hands again when P&O Transeuropean was off-loaded to logistics group Wincanton in December 2002.

 

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The increasing number of legal obligations among all types of companies to preserve documentation and data for certain periods, allied with the growing focus on good corporate governance has made dedicated records management something of a growth industry worldwide. According to DRM, the Irish industry is valued at some EUR20 million and rising.

DRM’s main customer base is, not surprisingly, in highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals and healthcare and financial services, as well as government departments and hospitals. In the case of financial services, the requirement to preserve financial data for a minimum of seven years inevitably results in a pressure on physical storage space.

In the eyes of firms pushing online back-up and recovery systems, depending on a van to physically deliver storage media to access important electronically filed data and records may be old hat, but for Data & Records Management (DRM), this road is still paved with gold.

The advance of data mirroring or online storage retrieval technology might suggest that there is little growth potential in the business of physically storing electronic media at an off-site location.

For instance, one of DRM’s clients, a Dublin hospital, needs access to 1,000 active files a day, which requires at least three deliveries from DRM’s premises to the hospital every day. (The company guarantees access to files within two hours of request, 24/7, 365 days a year)

Niall Curran, DRM’s business development manager, says that the development of such technology may chip away at a small percentage of the company’s overall business, but will not have a huge impact in the long term.

After all, far from creating the paperless office, the IT has managed to pile up our desks with stacks of paper as everyone tends to print off emails and other electronic documents. ‘In 1973 Forbes magazine predicted that we would have paperless offices within five years.’

He points to various sources that show the amount of information produced in hard copies is increasing by 25 per cent or so every year.

‘They’re always predicting the death knell for our industry but if you look at the US, where the industry is the most mature, they say it will stick around for a long time.’

There may be a growing number of larger companies willing to consider advanced online backup systems because they are ultimately more cost-effective, but many of them could not justify the required capital investment costs at the moment, said Curran.

However, the firm has not been blind to the potential for such online services and indeed five years ago launched a service called Data Vaulting, which offered remote backup. This service could have for some customers replaced the manual storage of tapes off-site, but lack of broadband infrastructure, security considerations and the high cost meant that it never really took off.

Five years on, DRM has decided to revisit this option now that broadband is more widely available and cheaper. Curran says the company has completed a detailed analysis of the market opportunity and will be making a decision whether to relaunch the Data Vaulting service in the coming weeks.

08/08/2003

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