Info360 Conference 2011: Highlights and Observations

Mar 26

A big turning point for AIIM, the information management association this week. As noted by AIIM President John Mancini earlier this month, this is the final year that the now-christened Info360 Conference will have any formal relationship with the association. In my opinion, it is a long overdue move from a branding perspective. Tradeshows are clearly in decline as lead generation activities for vendors and the big floors full of hardware and screaming monkeys just seem a little tired.

What I’m particularly enthused about is what has replaced AIIM’s focus:

Education and Community:

Read John’s blog post on how they’ve approached this new era in recent years:

  • 72,000 basic and 5,300 professional members globally
  • 34 local chapters (and if I have my way, 35 by next year… stay tuned for more on building the community in Ottawa, Canada)
  • 160 local events in 2010
  • 5800+ attendees at roadshows in US, UK and Canada last year
  • 20,000 webinar registrations over 2010
  • 17,000+ course attendees online and in-person since program launch in 2006 (3200 in 2010 alone…)
  • 100,000+ unique visitors to the Expert Blogs site

This represents an impressive effort building the professional network resources, curricula and interactive community for information management practitioners across the globe. It is important because conferences are no longer the primary mechanism for professional development in ECM / Information management any more. It’s now the web, peer to peer support communities, targeted training sessions/workshops and local in-person networking sessions.


I confess I wasn’t a big fan of how the “Systems of Record vs Systems of Engagement” evolution was described in the initial Geoffrey Moore ¬†White Paper¬†”Systems of Engagement and the Future of Enterprise IT: A Sea Change in Enterprise IT” was published earlier this year. I interpreted it as too black and white, either/or. John Manicini’s keynote actually made me buy into the theory more readily. Organizations need to have both “Systems of Record” and “Systems and Engagement” to manage the long term, fluid nature of their business. His keynote slides, particularly #8 through #12, clarified much for me, and I hope others. It can be fluid and transitional, rather than a dichotomy, when content management principles and technologies are in place to manage the flow of content between the two.

Two new pieces of research were announced during the conference. I’ve downloaded both but still need to dig into them more (separate blog posts to follow…)

Other Cool Stuff

Attended Alan Pelz-Sharpe’s session (of The Real Story Group) on the Document and Records Management Market. Clearly there is an tech analyst trend to start breaking down the umbrella category of “ECM”. We saw the early roots of this fragmentation with the November 2010 Gartner Magic Quadrant as it broke ECM into 4 component sub-categories, and likewise we see Real Story Group going back to the fundamentals of what their customers are really asking for. Great find coming out of this session was the ECM Maturity Model. I’ve downloaded it and believe it will be very helpful with some upcoming client engagements. It’s released under Creative Commons, and a big thanks to the authors for doing so.

Using Social Media to Create and Deepen Professional Relationships

One of the coolest moments of the week was after the annual AIIM Awards banquet, just casual chat with some people I’d met during the Chapter Leadership workshop. We had some social media skeptics… nay … more like enemies of it. Increasingly I’ve come to realize that hostility to social media is usually just discomfort and fear. No one likes to look out of their element. When someone has built up a professional expertise in an area that is in decline, the natural instinct is to fight the next thing. Instead of blaming the lame ‘generation gap’ excuse, maybe we who are more comfortable in this medium can encourage by sharing real, meaningful examples of how it has helped us reach people, share our views and learn more about our industry. Watching someone arrive at that epiphany and lose their fear is just about the most gratifying feeling that there is.

People are why we join communities and make the effort to engage in face to face conversation, even when phones, email and web let us duck it in the business realm. It’s the humans in this crazy world of ECM that make me glad I chose it as a career. A sincere thanks to the many old colleagues and professional friends (old and new) who made the event worthwhile.