Did any of us choose enterprise content management (ECM) as our career path when we joined the workforce? While there are degree programs in information studies, I think most of our paths were accidental. While we may have accidentally entered ECM, the decision to stay has been our own choice. Still we often don’t look at ECM as our career, but at “computers” as our career. Yet I can hardly imagine a brain surgeon saying they were, “just a doctor.” I know I don’t want to keep being asked if I can fix someone’s printer. I think it’s time we own our career.
At the AIIM conference last week, Eric Qualman’s stated that everyone has a “Digital Stamp and Digital Legacy” which is a trail about them on the web based on what other and that they themselves have contributed. If you don’t contribute to your own social media presence, then it is what others share about you that is all that’s known. This goes to our professional lives as well. If we don’t own our professional “digital stamp”, it is our employer that defines who we are rather than ourselves. Here are some ways to own your ECM Career.
We all know that all consultants are not created equal. While vendors and system integrators would like to say all of their consultants are experts, that expertise is based on the individual’s experiences and training. It’s hard to differentiate one consultant from the consulting pool, especially when it’s the consulting manager’s responsibility to represent the pool. So while you may rely on others to develop your internal profile, you need to own your external profile to own your career.
Certifications are a way to show what you’re worth. It doesn’t matter if it’s a vendor certification or an industry certification. What matters is that other people believe in the certification. Vendor certifications can be a mandated part of a partnership, as with OnBase or Microsoft. This means that your certification can have value to an organization.
Industry certifications gain their power from community adoption. Every individual that passes a certification knows what it took to achieve that certification. When they believe that the certification offers value, then that certification has value. This certification becomes a peer group that they trust. Over time, these certifications will gain even more credibility as certificate holders gain leadership positions in their organization.
A great example is when AIIM considered dropping the Certified Information Professional program. It was the CIP certification holders that banded together to say it has value. AIIM kept the program. Here’s a link to Jesse Wilkins’ presentation on the updated program.
Go to Conferences
Before last week, the last annual AIIM conference I attended was well over 15 years ago. Each year I would ask my boss to attend AIIM. Their reply was usually, “Marketing has enough people going already.” I should have argued that I wanted to go for my development but it was one of those battles I didn’t want to have. I should have fought for it.
Sessions and keynotes are great. Choose your path based on what you don’t know and don’t be afraid to walk out of a session if it’s not giving you what you need. (Even if you get heckled as you walk out the door.) At this AIIM conference I got introduced to round tables. Each session had a predefined topic with a moderator, but it’s really up to the room where the conversation went. This is real active learning and networking.
As a professional, the value of a good network is immeasurable. Face to face conversations and debates are what drive new solutions to existing challenges. If you only meet with your team about a topic you will rarely grow your career.
A small side note. Those that have done it know that booth duty is not the same as attending a conference. Your involvement is standing in a booth for hours on end, eating with your coworkers, and collapsing into bed before repeating it again the next day. You’re not getting the full benefit of a conference. When booth time overlaps session windows it can be a challenge. But you can still network.
I was recently on a cruise and the comic’s situation still has me laughing. As he randomly picked (on) audience members, he would ask, “What do you do.” One audience member responded, “I work with computers. “ The comedian asked for clarification. The response was, “You wouldn’t understand.” The joke oddly went out of control as the next two audience members also “work with computers.” The next day another passenger asked me what I did. I told her and she did understand.
Technology has moved beyond “working with computers” being a specialty and the world knows it. Being a general practitioner with computers is fine, but if you’ve decided to specialize then it’s time to own your career. ECM has evolved and continues to evolve. I’ve been told that some people are “working with unstructured content but I wouldn’t understand.” If I really don’t understand, then I will find out.