Dan O'Leary on Apple and Mobile Computing; the Broken ECM Industry; and Parental Love: An AIIM Award Interview

By Bryant Duhon posted 08-22-2011 17:02


Daniel O'Leary received AIIM's Distinguished Service Award in 2011. I've also been fortunate enough to have him as a regular blogger in this community.

I caught up with Dan via email to ask him some questions about the industry, his thoughts on AIIM, and some questions just for fun.

Q: As someone relatively still new to the industry, what is your perspective on why ECM isn’t more wide-spread than it is? After all, everyone has documents/content/paper to manage.

Dan: The ECM industry is broken, horribly broken. The same vendors that sold us the tools that got us into this mess are now trying to sell us the cure. Sorry guys, I don’t buy it. We’ve spent far too long focusing on systems that appeal to the Fortune 500, and have totally forgot about the vast majority of organizations out there. I’m hopeful that cloud-based tools and other simple, affordable systems will expand and bring this technology to the masses. If ECM was poker, I’m all-in on the cloud and mobile devices.

Q: World Paper Free Day is coming up again; you hate paper. Why?

Dan: Paper is a disease, a tumor on the healthy organs of productivity. I’ve printed 6 documents this year, TOTAL. Give me, iTunes, and electronic boarding passes any day over legacy tools and paper documents. Paper processes have as much place in modern business as a horse and buggy does on the freeway.

Q: Talk a little about your love of Apple and, more generally, what mobile devices are going to mean for eforms and ECM.

Dan: It’s true, I do love Apple, but only because I’m so sick of spending hours a day getting things to work right. As an executive and software developer, I have NO time to spend on making things work, so a lot of the people I know have made the switch because we are all tired of the day-to- day support and BS. Apple just works, and allows me to be as efficient as possible. Mobile devices like the iPad really are the future of ECM. It should be as easy to find out about your customers and your company’s financials as it is to find out what Kim Kardashian had for lunch on Twitter. If those aren’t equally easy, you are doing it wrong. Mobile devices can give you that level of access.

Q: One of the things you focus on is putting people and process BEFORE technology. We’ve talked about this before, but why do people continue to put technology first?

Dan: People are complex- we have needs, wants, desires, feelings, and can be tough to work with and understand. I just wish someone had told me this before I got married! No really though, computers on the other hand are simple- 1s and 0s. I’ve never had a project fail because of technology, but behind me is a graveyard where the people involved were an afterthought and projects died. You can buy more computers, add more RAM, but people are always your most important asset; much more so than technology. Without users, a system is nothing more than an empty shell. If you empower your users, you can innovate and achieve the impossible.

Q: Why be involved in chapters? And AIIM in general?

Dan: The AIIM LA chapter is an amazing team of people. Personally, I work from my home office about half the time (company is in NY), so attending AIIM events is a way to force me to shave and shower occasionally. Plus, the information we share and the networking has been awesome. AIIM in general has been amazing for me as a professional since it allows me to connect with the top experts in the world. I look at people like Sanooj Kutty as an example; we are literally a world apart, but we have a ton in common and share ideas and strategy all the time. Without AIIM, our man crush never would have happened.

Q: Favorite part of being involved in the ECM industry?

Dan: I love being a disruptor, so being involved in this industry gives me a shooting gallery of bad processes and poorly implemented systems to try and fix. I feel like I’m a solution looking for a problem, and there is no shortage of them in the ECM world.

And, just for fun:

Q: What are your three favorite websites?

Dan: Websites- Reddit, TechCrunch, Arstechnica . My homepage is a custom startpage that mashes up iGoogle, Basecamp,, and Google Reader. Yeah, I’m productive like that.

Q: What are the three greatest books ever written—and what’s on your  nightstand today?

Dan: Books- Game of Thrones, Start With Why, iWoz. I was sent 6,000 books for my Kindle, so right now I have every NYT best seller from the last 25 years on my nightstand. Where do you even begin?

Q: What are the three greatest movies of all time—and what’s the last one you’ve seen?

Dan: Movies- I’m a film NUT, seriously I’ve seen almost everything and blame being a Netflix subscriber since 2001. If Back to the Future, Saving Private Ryan, or any Tarantino movie is on, I’m stuck watching it. My favorite movie of the summer so far is X-Men: First Class.

Q: What was your first concert—and what are the three greatest songs on your iPod?

Dan: Concert- So sadly I didn’t go to a concert until I was in college, maybe my parents didn’t love me enough. Seeing Coldplay live changed my life, and the top played songs on my iPod right now are all from an indy New Zealand band called “The Naked and Famous”. If one of their songs ends up in a car commercial, I’ll cry.

Q: You’re a gamer, what’s an all-time fav and what are you playing now?

Dan: Games- I’m in the offseason for World of Warcraft, and counting days the days until FIFA 12 comes out. I’ve spent my summer playing tons of Team Fortress 2 on Steam, and playing Super Mario World and SNES games.

#awards #gaming #Apple #ECM #AIIM #DSA #ScanningandCapture #mobile #paperless