AIIM Expo 2010

AMTRAK just delivered me from Philadelphia after spending most of the week at AIIM Expo. Several of the educational tracks at AIIM had been brought together to form the Microsoft SharePoint Summit. I played a small part in the Summit but I’ll talk about that in a future blog; today, I want to give props to the people who deserve them.

AIIM – I’ll start with the folks who started the show. Although AIIM doesn’t manage or produce (or whatever the right verb is) the show, they keep the buzz about ECM, ERM, BPM, and all the other M’s alive, 24/7/365. Before you flag me for gratuitous use of ‘24/7/365’, start following @jmancini77 (John Mancini, President AIIM) on Twitter, or read his blog, or search for AIIM and follow all the others. In addition to that, the AIIM Education group conducts several pre-conference workshops on the first day of the show that give lots of people a chance to pick up a “Specialist” certification at a discount.

Questex – Whatever the right word is for running a show, Quetex is familiar with it. Most people don’t know anything about Questex because the only reason you would ever contact show management is when something goes wrong. I’m sure there are bumps in the road for a show this complex, but I’ve never seen anything that interfered with my show experience. I say that as someone who has attended AIIM Expo since 2000 and someone who has presented there on five occasions. I’ll single out Jennifer Marcus, the Conference Manager, because she’s the person I deal with and she makes participating in AIIM easy. She can’t possibly be everywhere at once, but when the moderator of a panel needed some last minute changes, Jennifer seemed to pop-up out of nowhere to make those arrangements.

Microsoft – I have to say, when I heard that Microsoft was managing the SharePoint Summit, I felt a little nervous. I mean, it’s their product, the next version is a few inches away from the finish line and AIIM provides a pretty big audience. Again, I know there were tons of people involved, but I’ll single out Ryan Duguid, Senior Product Manager for two reasons. One, I dealt directly with him and two, I thought his keynote address was awesome. The SharePoint Summit wasn’t an advertising spree; it was a mix of analysis, education, case studies and discussions around SharePoint. The presentations I watched which were delivered by Microsoft employees were great; a well orchestrated mix of dialog and demonstration.

Vendors – Times are tough and I know vendors have to carefully choose what venues to play, so I thank the ones who chose to play AIIM. I came to AIIM looking for a couple of key products, so I will do my best to express my thanks to those vendors in a more tangible form. While I’m handing out informal awards, I’ll give this one to Virginia Gavin, President and COO Appligent Document Solutions. We stopped by her booth and asked about a specific type of PDF solution. Appligent doesn’t offer that solution, but Virginia wrote down the names of three companies that do and told me a little about each. Seriously folks, this was a Miracle on 34th Street moment in Philadelphia.

OK, now for the somewhat unrelated highlights. In the Pat’s v. Geno’s battle, we have to go with Pat’s. We tried a cheese steak from both, in as scientific a comparison as we could conduct and, while both are great, we like Pat’s better. My recommendation though is “try both and decide for yourself”. Apparently there are other, less well known places; next time, I’ll try some of those. As for food you can wash down with a beer, I have been a solid fan of McGillins’s for years, and judging by the crowd, many of my fellow AIIM attendees agree. McGillin’s is lively, reasonably priced and offers great food and a wonderful selection of beers. I might have a better report if I tried a few, but I never make it past McGillin’s Genuine Lager, an eastern PA microbrew. Last but not least is APJ Texas Weiners, you’re right, we didn’t exactly eat “healthy” but I don’t get to Philly that often. Great dogs, and, as the web site says: split, grilled and served with sauce, mustard and chopped onion. The web site doesn’t mention it, but they also serve a very good breakfast.

I’ll get back to SharePoint in a few days. Thanks everyone for a great show!