My AIIM 2017 Takeaway

This year’s AIIM Conference was a great networking and knowledge sharing opportunity.  Over 40% of this year’s conference attendees were “first timers”.  Because of this, AIIM had its first “AIIM First Timers Gathering” before the keynote and they offered me a great opportunity to co-host with Jessica Lombardo.  Over 19 countries were represented at the conference.  Commercial and government end users were well represented and there were even a few non-profits. As a show of ECM’s viability, for over 90 percent of the new attendees it was the first time anyone from their organization attended an AIIM conference.  While as a show of its visibility, less than 20 percent had heard of AIIM before the signed up for the conference.

As someone that has been in this industry for years, here is my industry takeaway.

Don’t Get Caught Up In Market Definition Rat Holes

Even before the conference started, Cheryl McKinnon of Forrester set the tone in a tweet, “don’t get caught up in market definition ratholes.” Whatever we call it, this industry is in transition.  John Mancini created a third term, Intelligent Information Management. Not surprisingly this would mean that AIIM would now be the Association for Intelligent Information Management, something that has been suggested in the past.  In his presentation, he said that this term was more encompassing than either Enterprise Content Management or Content Services.  After I had some very good conversations with Hanns Köhler-Krüner of Gartner, it became obvious that we are all trying to address this transition. ECM vendors seem to think that “managing content” is still an end user application and are ignoring the end user’s real business need, a concern I touched in June 2016.

Everyone is Fixated on the “Global 500”                                                                        

I may steal his thunder but Lee put it best, “I could pick up one vendor’s pitch and move it over to the next booth and many would never know the difference.”    Every generic pitch was fixated on supporting the “Global 500”.  I mean everyone, and will leave it at just that.

I See Business Solution Vendors

Very few “traditional” ECM vendors are talking about “real” business applications, but some did.  I also bumped into a few content solution vendors that were attending the conference.   We all may not see, them but they do see us.

“Until yesterday I had never heard the term ECM”

The state of this industry was summed up on one slide in the closing presentation.  Chris Beebe won AIIM’s 2016 World Paper Free Day Hero Award for his paperless transition efforts at Raleigh General Hospital on November 14, 2017.  He was quoted in the closing as saying, “Until yesterday I had never heard the term ECM.”  The award was based on votes from end users for an end user’s business problem.

Vendors need to listen closer to what their customers are saying.  I expect to see business solutions as a major message next year.

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