Award of Merit

By Mike Alsup posted 05-13-2017 15:49


At the AIIM Conference in Orlando last month, I became the 46th recipient of the Award of Merit from the former National Micrographics Association (now AIIM) in 75 years.  This column is my brief reflection on this event. 

This was at least my 30th AIIM Conference.  It has always been highly relevant to my career across my years at Accenture, Booz, Allen, IMerge, BSG, Align Solutions and Gimmal.  In this period, I have been to many other conferences, such as the National Computer Conference (NCC), the Office Automation Conference (OAC), the International Word Processing Conference (IWP), INFO, and many others that are now defunct.  A key question is why AIIM has prospered while other competitors have fallen by the wayside.  I attribute this to two things. 

First, AIIM focused on processes as opposed to the underlying technologies.  The NCC, OAC and IWP faltered when the technologies they focused on became commodities (PC’s and word processors).  While AIIM had “Image” in its name (no more!), this transcended technologies as the technologies evolved from microfilm to optical disk to hard disk to the cloud.  However, the processes I worked on in the 80’s are generally the same processes we focus on today. 

Second, AIIM had leadership, particularly John Mancini, who gracefully and agilely led it through multiple generations of technologies.  Instead of wallowing in microfilm or document management or imaging, the AIIM leadership positioned the association ahead of the curve.  This kept organizations coming to AIIM events and consuming AIIM content.  Vendors came to serve these organizations. 

My father retired in 1982 from DuPont after 40 years.  His name was on several of the Teflon patents.  When he retired, DuPont flew 40 of his colleagues from his career to Parkersburg, West Virginia (where he worked) to celebrate his career.  Think about how different this is from 2017.  Jobs are now measured in years instead of decades.  In the rapid hire-and-fire world of ECM and the Internet in recent decades, there is no more retirement from a position.  If there is continuity in the ECM industry beyond the LinkedIn connections of an individual, it is through our industry association, AIIM.  But, just as there is not much continuity of companies within ECM, likewise, there are great risks for associations such as AIIM.  It takes people who know the industry and have experience navigating their way through the ECM maze participating to enable AIIM to be successful. 

Marko Sillanpaa had an article recently that made this point.  In his view, a career is the combination of knowledge and connections, and AIIM has been instrumental in enabling him to build both.  This is exactly how I feel.  You get out of things what you put into them.  AIIM has given me a tremendous set of opportunities and for that I am forever grateful. 

Live Long and Prosper,

Mike Alsup