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AIIM Chicago Seminar 10/7/10 – Some impressions and reflections

October 8, 2010

I had the pleasure of attending the AIIM Chicago Seminar yesterday, 8 Factors to Consider in Creating an Information Management Strategy. And while I had to leave just before the closing presentation to catch a flight, I found the time I was able to spend there valuable and thought-provoking.

And since AIIM tends to be timely about posting conference materials online, this won’t be a blow-by-blow account of the event or the presentations. Instead, I just wanted to capture some of what’s going through my head as I take an evening flight across the country and reflect on the day.

First, the vendor mix wasn’t what I expected—six of the twenty sponsors were scanning hardware/software vendors, which was more than I would have predicted. Outside of this, there were one medium and three big ECM providers, an enterprise search provider, a niche doc management system, a niche records management solution, a semantic search provider, a couple of professional services firms, an offsite document storage vendor, and a cloud content management provider.

Now, as I write this and actually add up the totals, maybe the mix isn’t quite as scanning heavy as it seemed at the time, so my perception may have had more to do with the next thing that struck me…

Scanning and image management was the overwhelming focus of the day. Given how mature this particular segment of the ECM market is and the level of buzz out there around “next wave” ECM capabilities like customer communication management and social computing for the enterprise, I expected less emphasis on scanning paper. But then again, I’m in the trenches day-to-day primarily with F1000 firms in heavily regulated industries like banking, financial services, insurance, health care, and pharma, so maybe my expectations were based on too-narrow a visibility into the overall ECM marketplace.

Finally, the extent of SharePoint’s disruption of the ECM market has advanced significantly since I prognosticated on SharePoint and ECM earlier this year. Out of the ten breakout sessions, five of them were about SharePoint in one way or another; out of these five, four were about using capture hardware/software to enable image management in SharePoint.

By the way, there were zero presentations about big ECM—unless you would consider a presentation called “Got Hope? ECM Vendor Viability in the SharePoint Era” as being primarily about big ECM…I sure wouldn’t.

What all this indicates to me is that scanning hardware/software vendors are doing an end-run around big ECM to connect the dots between SharePoint’s doc management/collaboration capabilities and their own tried and true capture offerings. And given the fact that they’re often themselves competing against big ECM’s native capture capabilities, this strategy makes perfect sense for these vendors—after all, if they can ride the SharePoint adoption wave and take market share from big ECM, that’s a huge win for them.

But it’s also a huge win for Microsoft, because this partnership allows it to leave capture to its scanning hardware/software partners and turn instead to whatever area of the ECM stack they choose to disrupt next (social computing, BPM, e-discovery) with SharePoint 2013.

What wasn’t evident to me from this event was what, if anything, big ECM is actively doing to counter this scanning hardware/software vendor play…and they need to be doing something if they want to halt (or at least slow) the retreat of their sweet spot ECM capabilities at the enterprise ahead of the SharePoint advance.

Anyway, that’s what made an initial impression on me from the seminar; but I also did a lot of tweeting during the breakouts of sound bites from presenters. I’ll post those here in a day or two so that folks can see them all in one place without having to wade through the twitter stream for the event.

And if anyone out there was at the event or has thoughts on my thoughts—jump in and get the conversation started!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2010 12:17 pm

    Joe, thanks for joining us at the seminar and thanks for sharing your impressions. We at AIIM do talk about scanning and paper-centric processes as a logical place to start looking at automation and streamlining the office. However, we probably focused more attention in our presentation about the role of E2.0 and social content on our businesses. We believe that the leaders of tomorrow will figure out the difference between social inside the enterprise and outside the enterprise, how to leverage both of them, and how to incorporate conversation/engagement in daily processes.

    • October 13, 2010 7:41 pm


      Thanks for checking out the post and for your kinds words–happy to help AIIM get the message out there about ECM best practices any way I can!

      And you’re right to correct me on the focus of your keynote, which was decidedly social in it’s orientation and did a great job looking ahead to some trends on the (not so distant) horizon for ECM practitioners.



  2. October 19, 2010 8:40 am


    I like all the sound bite collections from the show you put together and your thoughts that the show left you with. I always find it interesting that while there are always more appealing and sexy ECM technologies like social ECM stuff (blogs, wikis, collaborative spaces, etc) and WCM or DAM…this industry will never get too far away from the tried and true image capture, image management and image processing (workflow/BPM). Image Management and Workflow technologies (once upon time called integrated DM or transactional content management) are like blocking, tackling and defense in the world of ECM. Some of the sexier, cooler (and still valuable and important) ECM technologies are like flee-flickers and reverse end-arounds and high-powered offenses.

    Clearly this industry needs both offense and defense…call me old fashion, but defense isn’t something that has a lot of sizzle for commercials (or AIIM events), but it is what usually wins championships and when organizations roll up their sleeves to automate their structured, mission critical (usually doc-centric) business processes with image management focused ECM technologies, it’s usually a wise, fruitful, measurable investment to make.

    Maybe the process-focused ECM vendors need to just find a way to make defense cool again…?

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