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AIIM/Info360 Lint in the Cranial Vent

After spending 3+ days at the AIIM Conference/Info360 event in Washington, DC, my brain is clogged with all kinds of interesting nuggets!

Here are but a few of the more intriguing story lines that stuck following my ECM Practitioner class, my series of show-floor briefings, and my numerous in-the-corridor-and-press-room perspective checks with buyers, vendors, and integrator/reseller types:

Misuse/overuse of the word “new”
This itself isn’t, well, new in terms of vendor marketing, but it kept surfacing in places where the principals really ought to have known better. The lesson is to ask, “In what way is this new?” when you hear the word.

Is the feature/product/capability truly innovative? Never before seen in this particular market space? Never before offered by this particular vendor? I found much of what was touted as “new” either to be old client/server development techniques wrapped in ECM/BPM clothes or long-standard features finally being offered by the vendor in question. So as they said in ancient Rome, caveat emptor.

Emerging stratification in the world of mobility
All the talk of customer engagement intersected with the drive to enhance the mobile experience to surface an important distinction between enabling browser-based smartphone or tablet access to content and process activities on the one hand, and fielding true mobile apps for the purpose on the other.

The separation of these two tiers is still nascent, but the long-term ramifications are significant since they speak to new ways to think about information architecture, content structure, usability, security, and privacy. The use of “m.” sites and formatting is just the beginning.

Tendency to ignore the past (and thus the risk of being condemned to repeat it)
Specifically, is cloud computing a true innovation or merely a viable hosting alternative with its roots in 1970s timesharing and 1990s ASPs? (See prior point regarding new.)

To be sure, the underlying technology is hugely more flexible and accessible today than it was then, but the takeaway here isn’t one of semantics and definition – rather, it has to do with cutting away the hype, focusing on the practical, and, especially, looking to preceding market models and technology trends for guidance.

Black/white vs. shades of gray
Perhaps it’s a reflection of how commodity so much of the technology has become, and thus how competitive the market is today. But there was an awful lot of talk about good tools vs. bad, all users vs. none wanting certain features, old technologies being dead vs. new ones being saviors.

Well, the world isn’t a binary place. Tools that do x vs. y aren’t better or worse; they’re merely different, and depending upon what you need to accomplish, they may be absolutely perfect for you. Just as, say, and “old” technology like microfiche is very much alive, and perhaps critical for archivists needing to think in terms of centuries-long retention schedules.

My mother-in-law used to say, “Remember who you are!” when the kids would go out, and so you should remember who you are when you attend conferences and exhibitions. There’ll be plenty that will stick in your brain, and you’ll best make sense of it only by using your own organization and needs as the touchstone.

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