AIIM Expo 2010 – Final Thoughts

Thanks to a cancelled meeting I finally have a chance to comment on my experience at AIIM Expo 2010. On the whole it was a great week. There is a considerable amount of information from the week but these are the bits that are most likely to stick with me.

Things I Learned At AIIM Expo 2010

You will notice that in keeping with my recently acquired  aversion to numbered lists I have not artificially increased it to eight points so I could suck up to John Mancini. It did cross my mind though:)  Here are my random observations (in no particular order)

I totally underestimated the mobile thing

We have written a time or two about mobile content management in one form or another but it was admittedly never a focus for a significant number of brain cells. That is until AIIM asked me to put a session together as part of a mobile content technology focus. The best technologies are those that sneak up on you and become a part of your life without you really noticing how much it changes you – until it’s too late.  I’ll be writing a much longer piece on this topic soon to expand on what I learned but in short the implications of mobile content capture as demonstrated by ABBYY at the show was the single most disruptive (and interesting) technology there.  The potential is so disruptive and outside the way we work today that I genuinely believe many people can’t even see  it coming – but it is.

I have to get an iPhone but I have to wait on the 3G iPad

Obviously an extension of the mobile discussion but the movement of all kinds of applications to mobile platforms demand that I get with the program. The BlackBerry just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I need more apps. I need a better browser. I need speed. I need a more developer friendly platform.  Every other vendor was giving away an iPad but the most telling thing about it was the level of frustration experienced by the poor guy in one booth with the networking challenges. Typing anything but short form is awkward at best but there are so many possibilities.

Some people still don’t get CMIS

I still maintain the CMIS is an inside topic for content management geeks like myself. As a community we spend too much time preaching to the choir on this issue and need to do a better job at crafting an engaging story that appeals to real people. The story is there and now that we are on the edge of adoption it is time to go to market to people that ultimately will benefit most – the end users.

As I sat in the CMIS demo watching the praise tick by on Tweetdeck there were constant groans and whines from a couple of people behind me. They were unimpressed and disappointed by the lack of glitz and wanted to know what all of the fuss was about. Moreover they wanted to make sure everyone around them heard their displeasure. I can’t stand being around people like that. They are emblematic of a segment of the user population we all dread. The ones so mired in between their inbox and their outbox that they can’t see over the paper.

This category of folks are however the same ones that demand to know why IT can’t deliver on their dreams of infinitely connected information. CMIS solves so many problems in this space  – for developers. This translates to solving problems for real people but it will take time. In the interim while acknowledging the utilitarian success of the standard we should turn some of our attention to better communicating the benefit to the people. (that’s right – I just suggested marketing – no rock throwing please)

Old problems don’t go away – they get relabeled

One of the best discussions I had was with Aaron Levie CEO of Over the course of the chat we both pondered just why paper is still such a problem. I settled on an inappropriate but nonetheless accurate comparison of our “paper problem” to the drug war. We often fight battles at the wrong end of the problem. People wouldn’t deal drugs if other people didn’t use them. Similarly – people wouldn’t need to scan paper if other people didn’t print it.  Systems don’t require paper. People are addicted to it.

You would have thought all those years ago when I got into this business that the paperless society would have emerged by now but the problem of how can I make my business better by digitizing information seems bigger than ever.  Call it scanning or imaging or capture it is still a huge business – and will remain so. Debate remains heated on what to call it now but its all just content and we are all just trying to figure out what to do with it. There is way more to talk about here than I have time for this post so I’ll definitely come back to this in a followup post.

The Mayans Predicted SharePoint 2010

OK – not really but the impact and presence of SharePoint 2010 was enormous. These days I believe you could announce a conference on using SharePoint to improve tomato production in backyard gardens and get a thousand people to show up.  It is what everybody wants and to be honest needs to talk about. It isn’t going away. It is everywhere and you must learn to manage the beast before sites begin collapse on top of you.  From the observations and conversation I believe records management will be the pivotal business risk/problem where SharePoint is concerned. This problem has always been there and addressed with varying degrees of success. Now that we are moving into the first major upgrade of SharePoint’s millennial reign records management must be deliberately addressed by many who only gave it occasional lip service before.

There is no substitute for meeting face to face (at least not yet)

I had the chance to meet many of the people I have been following and interacting with on twitter and in the blogosphere. In general I found that people are much taller than their avatars but just as engaging. As useful as social media is, sitting across the table from someone chatting about everything from volcanic ash to records management is much more revealing. I learned something from every conversation no matter how brief. Even those just walking down the hall between presentations or standing in an alley in front of McGillin’s. The character of the big shows has changed over the years and there are precious few opportunities to speak with the real thought leaders in the industry. I had a number of good meetings related to the “day” job there as well so some business did indeed get done.

Thanks to AIIM for a great show and I hope to see you next year.

4 thoughts on “AIIM Expo 2010 – Final Thoughts

  1. As usual, I love your perspective on what’s happening in (and around) the ECM space…thanks for taking the time to give the wider world an overview of this year’s AIIM.

    And on the topic of SharePoint 2010: I’ve got a global, Fortune 500 client right now that’s going to roll out 2010 as their core ECM system for unstructured data with no “grown up” ECM on the back end, and at almost every other client there’s varying levels of talk about about at least considering this approach. So your thoughts here and elsewhere on SharePoint and the larger ECM market are spot on, from what I’m seeing at least.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the comments and encouragement.

    When I hear stories about large customers doing that I cannot help but cringe – yet to be objective it is no less frightening than doing it with more traditional approaches – it just shifts the risk around. We all have developed comfort levels architecturally with certain packages and certain problems. SharePoint makes us reopen the old wounds we got getting to that level. much more to discuss here I think…

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