AIIM Information Chaos Rescue Mission – Toronto Edition

AIIM is holding a series of ECM-related seminars across North America, and since today’s is practically in my back yard, I decided to check it out. It’s a free seminar so heavily sponsored; most of the talks are from the sponsor vendors or conversations with them, but John Mancini kicked things off and moderated mini-panels with the sponsor speakers to tease out some of the common threads.

The morning started with John Mancini talking about disruptive consumer technologies — cloud, mobile, IoT — and how these are “breaking” our internal business processes by fragmenting the channels and information sources. The result is information chaos, where information about a client lives in multiple places and often can’t be properly aggregated and contextualized, while still remaining secure. Our legacy systems, designed to be secure, were put in place before the devices that are causing security leaks were even invented; those older systems can’t even envision all the ways that information can leak out of an organization. Furthermore, the more consumer technologies advance, the further behind our IT people seem, making it more likely that business users will just go outside/around IT for what they need. New technologies need to be put in the context of our information management practices, and those practices adjusted to include the disruptors, rather than just ignore them: consider how to minimize risk in this information chaos state;  how to use information to engage and collaborate, rather than just shutting it away in a vault; how to automate processes that involve information that may not be stored in an ECM; and how to extract insights from this information.

A speaker from Fujitsu was up next, stating some interesting statistics on just how big the information chaos problem is:

  • 50% of business documents are still on paper; most businesses have many of their processes still reliant on paper.
  • Departmental CM systems have proliferated: 75% of organizations with a CM system have more than one, and 25% have more than four. SharePoint is like a virus among them, with an estimated 50% of organizations worldwide using SharePoint ostensibly for collaboration, but usually for ad hoc content management.
  • Legacy CM systems are themselves are a hidden source of costs, inefficiency and risk.

In other words, we have a lot of problems to tackle still: large organizations tend to have a lot of non-integrated content management systems; smaller organizations tend to have none at all.

We finished the first morning segment with an introduction from the event sponsors at small booths around the room:

An obvious omission (to me, anyway) was IBM/FileNet — not sure why they are not here as a sponsor considering that they have a sizable local contingent.

The rest of the morning was taken up with two sets of short vendor presentations, each followed by a Q&A session moderated by John Mancini: first Epson, K2 and EMC; then KnowledgeLake, HP Autonomy, Kodak alaris and OpenText. There were audience questions about information security and risk, collaboration/case management, ECM benefits and change management, auto-classification, SharePoint proliferation, cloud storage, managing content retention and disposal, and many other topics; lots of good discussions from the panelists. I was amazed (or maybe just sadly accepting) at the number of questions dealing with paper capture and disposal; I’ve been working in scanning/workflow/ECM/BPM since the late 80’s, and apparently there are still a lot of people and processes resistant to getting rid of paper. As a small business owner, I run a paperless office, and have spent a big chunk of my career helping much larger enterprises go paperless as part of streamlining their processes, so I know that this is not only possible, but has a lot of benefits. As one of the vendors pointed out, just do something, rather than sitting frozen, surrounded by ever-increasing piles of paper.

I skipped out at lunchtime and missed the closing keynote since it was the only bit remaining after the lunch break, although it looked like a lot of the customer attendees stayed around for the closing and the prize draws afterwards, plus to spend time chatting with the vendors.

Thanks to AIIM and the sponsors for today’s seminar; the presentations were a bit too sales-y for me but some good nuggets of information. There’s still one remaining in Chicago and one in Minneapolis coming up next week if you want to sign up.

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