29 April 2010

Philology from Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, Info360 (neé AIIM expo) opened and closed last week with minimal impact. Often a launching pad for emerging technologies and a listening post for industry trends, this version was most notable for what wasn’t there, especially from a RIM perspective.

First, the asset side of the ledger:
Microsoft SharePoint 2010 dominated the show floor with a generous partner pavilion and a large, accessible bank of laptops for group “immersions” and individual exploration. The mock case study showed at least some of Redmond’s expanded RIM functionality
Cloud computing vendors provided second-level saturation, proclaiming the advantages of their tools while trying to assuage buyers’ fears
The show’s small footprint allowed a thorough viewing with minimal loss of shoe leather
EMC, HP and Oracle presented credible displays. In terms of RIM, their common theme was, “We speak SharePoint, too.”
The concurrent, adjacent OnDemand trade show gave AIIM attendees the chance to explore the hardware side of RIM
OmniRim proffered their paper-based solution’s integration with SharePoint

On the other side, some major vendors seemed scared off by Microsoft. For example:
IBM limited itself to a kiosk in the SharePoint pavilion -- barely mentioning Contextual Analytics, its potentially game-changing technology announced at ARMA last October
Open Text claimed only a 10’ x 10’ booth near a corner of the show floor, and the booth person who addressed me did not speak RIM

As Gimmal Group’s Mike Alsup commented, it felt like a throwback to 1995. Capture was a major theme, and many of the new, small vendors who populated the 10 x 10s on the periphery showed document management technologies. Plasmon even showed a jukebox full of double-sided WORM disks.

Cloudy, with a chance of meatballs

As noted, the secondary theme -- not mutually exclusive with SharePoint -- was cloud computing. Priscilla Emery, owner of ECM Scope (and a former Sr. VP at AIIM) observed:

“Cloud approaches to support document management are re-emerging but I was struck by the lack of e-mail management approaches being fully integrated into many of them. From a records management point of view these "solutions" won't hold water and only demonstrate a serious lack of understanding how to support e-discovery and audit applications. “Of course, SharePoint has been the basis for many of these applications and more. And, yet as I look at what CIOs seek as the basis for their enterprises' infrastructure and communication applications, I do see more of them taking a very serious look at Google as the provider of choice in the cloud. I see a serious disconnect in the ECM [Enterprise Content Management] market here and, maybe an opportunity for those ECM vendors adventurous enough to explore it.”

While Google had no booth, it interpreted its view of information management at a well-attended keynote address. Among exhibitors, vendors Alfresco and SpringCM offered cloud-based ECM suites with records management tools.

AIIM – The Organization versus The Show

In the last six months, AIIM has promoted and emphasized its focus on RIM, prominently featuring records issues in its publications and heavily promoting its certificate program for electronic records. Exhibitors at the trade show did not replicate this focus, showing minor interest, at best, in records and information management.

In addressing RIM, AIIM still faces a basic contradiction: AIIM is primarily a vendors’ organization, and vendors make products and tools. RIM is essentially a discipline to be practiced. It uses tools, but it is not defined by them. Further, RIM practitioners are not buyers of software tools, at least not outside a partnership with their IT stakeholders.

If AIIM wants to offer significant value to RIM practitioners, it will have to teach its vendor-members to be problem solvers more than software merchants. Records practitioners need ECM tools and expertise, but that need is likely to go unfulfilled until ECM vendors gain perspective on how their products can be applied to RIM.

No comments:

Post a Comment