AIIM in Review: Good, Bad, and What Should be Different

By Julie Gable posted 04-27-2010 22:46


Unlike many other attendees, I had no airline or per diem expenses for last week’s AIIM conference because I live in Philadelphia and the convention center is a half-hour train ride away. I figured the conference’s registration fee – as well as the opportunity cost of three days away from the office - would be justified based on all the new industry information, insights, and ideas I’d gain. Frankly, not so much.

With exceptions, many conference presentations seemed to be aimed at those new to content and/or records management. In some cases, well-worn wisdom was repeated as if it were new. For example, “We need to have records management in the process from the beginning,” and “Information architecture is more important than technology architecture,” and organizations must “balance people and process with technology.” Good advice, certainly, but not new insights.

Many conferences, including AIIM, are fond of duets, pairing a consultant with his or her client to present a session. In theory, this keeps the session from being a consultant sales pitch and has the potential to offer the audience real-world lessons learned from the client. What seems to happen, though, is that the client’s portion of the presentation gets sanitized by company attorneys, leaving little more than a general overview of basic project planning, rather than that client’s real experience.

There were standouts. Steve Goodfellow’s “Who Cares About Installing a New System: How Do I Fix the One I Have?,” was a first-hand picture of why and how ECM implementations don’t deliver as promised and how to avoid the bumps. Also excellent was Reynolds Cahoon’s session on “Breaching Organization Defenses: Putting Systems Thinking to Work.” It talked about overcoming resistance to change and reconciling the disparate viewpoints often found among ECM and ERM project stakeholders. Alan Pelz-Sharpe was his usual superb self with “ECM Marketplace and Trends 2010.”

Lots of statistics are quoted, but few are attributed. So, claims that 80% of money spent on IT does not add value or that 75% of IT budget is spent to keep systems working may be true, but without knowing where they came from, they’re hard to believe. Instead of giving credence to what a speaker says, unsourced stats call to mind Mark Twain’s famous line: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

On the exhibition floor, the ash cloud from Iceland prevented the appearance of several European vendors offering cloud-based ECM solutions. Disappointing, but unavoidable. Though products on the floor may be new, excuses are as old as the show itself. “We can’t demo that module because we’re having trouble with the software,” or “The person who knows that module isn’t here right now.” Webex demos, anyone?

If we are becoming increasingly virtual in every aspect of our lives and our work, is there really the need to gather in a physical location once a year? Would we miss the social aspect if sessions were webinars and demos were online? Would we make time to attend? Maybe it’s time to consider a new delivery model.

#AlanPelzSharpe #Records-Management #changemanagement #ElectronicRecordsManagement #AIIM2010 #cloudcomputing #SaaS #ECM