Friday, 24 September 2010

AIIM Fall Event Toronto - review

The AIIM day in Toronto on weds 22nd Sept, was the second venue in the “grand fall tour” of the AIIM road show, and it was as good and as interesting as ever.

An 8am to 2pm (roughly) event, if you include breakfast and lunch, there were two tracks of interesting sessions, and I will give a quick over view of thoughts on those in a minute, but firstly if your in the information management or content management space and not a member of AIIM – why not ?

I have been a member for years, and have seen the transformation of services to members under the current leadership, its worth your membership money for sure ! (British Computer Society please take note). As you can see from my ‘Certification logos’ on the side of this site, I like their training courses too. So take a look at:

  •  and,
  • John Mancini’s ‘Digital Landfill’ blog at (home of the now famous “8 things……” lists).
Anyway, back to weds sessions.

During John’s opening keynote I thought he made a good point about the risks of not taking information management seriously, by noting some of the recent ‘disasters’: 

·         could Toyota employee’s immediately put their hands on the right technical documents when people started accusing their accelerators of sticking ?
·         Could BP’s and its contractors find all the information they needed in a timely fashion to both deal with the crises on a technical level at the well head, but also to show Congress ?

If your company was involved in some scenario, be it a litigious one or just a “PR” disaster, could you find all the pertinent documents and information you might need quickly enough ? I don’t mean this to sound like a records management specific, e-discovery thing, but more of a general information management issue, because if your not managing your information in all its forms well, or perhaps just not managing it all, then it is going to compound the stress your under in such circumstances.

Also a nice touch at the event was the presence of two local consulting firms giving ‘free’ advice including short 1 to 1 appointments, or just chatting across the table. As getting some expert, independent advice is a good starting point in developing a strategy, I liked this new ‘feature’. Of course there were the usual vendor booth's around the periphery of the main meeting room, so you could go and chat to the likes of Oracle (who had a sales person from Yorkshire ! Damn good reason to buy anything, in my opinion......)

As per usual I will not give a detailed blow by blow account of the sessions, these presentations will be made available to us during the week, and if I am allowed to share them, I will.

For the first session I went off to see Pam Doyle from Fujitsu (and Chair of the TWAIN working group!) do “8 ways to achieve ROI” (that’s paraphrased). Lots of cool and interesting facts on the amount of paper we still churn through – 768 milllion tree’s a year, which on average output 8333 sheets each !! Of course there were plenty of cost figures to go with thus, plus those for the real estate you need for storage of all this paper etc. The point being of course, if you can scan a lot of this paper and transform it to a digital format, your going to save money, and business drivers for this also include compliance, collaboration and customer service. Pam backed this up with a case study which showed some extremely positive ROI figures, providing us with the evidence. The final, very good point about this though was one of benefits realization – if you have not measured the “before” state, and you don’t measure the “after” – how on earth can you prove that you have saved anything, or benefited in any other way for that matter.

Next up was Iron Mountain with “8 ways to make your information work for you”. Obviously this had an element of ‘sales pitch’ for Iron Mountains services when discussing the benefits of taking a hosted / SaaS offering for information management, but it was not laid on too thickly. I did like the point that with this model you truly pay for what you get, and you can ‘dip your toe into the water’ to check it out, without incurring too much expense. Having said that, I am not sure that I agree with the contention that storing paper can be cheaper than digital in certain scenarios, or that hybrid solutions (digital working copies, paper ‘records’) can be highly cost effective. We pretty much ran out of time before we got far into the case study part, perhaps there might have been some evidence to backup these assertions, but the cynic in me just thinks that’s a business development argument for Iron Mountain !

The session on cloud content management was next up, and was very interesting. I liked the point that when setup it was purely their aim to offer a consumer service, they did not enter the “enterprise market” until they were basically asked to by potential customers (and they now have 60,000 business customers!). A nice case study video for a professional services firm with 60 distributed staff was shown. They had come to the conclusion that update their messaging and file sharing infrastructure – physical servers to run MS Exchange and file servers, was going to cost them $400K over 4 years. Going to (and I am presuming Google Apps, as it was mentioned at one point) dropped that to $40K over the 4 years – a truly sizeable amount.

Also interesting in this session though, was although the Canadian people asking if had a Canadian data centre. Jerry had to admit that they didn’t and went into some obviously well rehearsed phrases about the U.S. Patriot Act being mostly bluster and people did not really need to worry about it – only to have explained to him that it nothing to do with the Patriot Act, but everything to do with Canadian Privacy legislation ! (I think this applies to private companies holding personal data, as well as Govt. agencies, which quite a few of the people appeared to be from). (I also got a nice "no SharePoint t-shirt from box, I meant to take a photo of it - but forgot....)

Next up was Ken Burns from Hyland Software, who is always an enjoyable presenter who comes across as really knowing his stuff. Ken was talking on the state of the ECM market and picking holes in analysts definitions of both ECM products and their differentiation of the different market segments etc. Ken is always delightfully straight to the point, and he never turns his sessions into a marketing pitch for Onbase, with statements like: “why would I try to sell your our product for WCM, its not what we do!”. You can see some of Ken's stuff on the Hyland site here: ECM101, Understanding your ECM system

The Final session of the day was Cheryl McKinnon, CMO of Nuxeo on open source content management. As a firm believer in the benefits of open source, Cheryl is preaching to the choir with me, but she did point out a major point, which some people might not always grasp – the open source route can be better for organizations that have in house developers and development expertise. Yes Nuxeo and Alfresco have nice “out of the box” experiences, but open source wins out when you have the ability to get under the hood and make it do what you want. As such you need to have an understanding of the open source licenses,  and a clear understand that open source code is ‘free as in speech, and not free as in beer’.

Interestingly though, Cheryl made a poignant connection between open source platforms, open standards (such as CMIS) and our ever increasing ability to create and edit digital content, and the long term curation and preservation of that content. I loved the line “ democratization of opportunity also means democratization of risk” – oh, yeah, indeed it does, and what are we doing about it ???

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