A few days ago, I returned from the AIIM Conference. Having extended my trip with a short vacation, I missed the ‘recap window’, but I can still say that it was a great event, and its success helps me segue into a point I wanted to make about conferences. AIIM’s new focus on Information Management fits so nicely with my job, and my department’s goals that it makes me think of woodworking joints like the ones shown to the right. AIIM has always helped me to reach my goals, but now they complement my work and add strength to my mission. AIIM’s emphasis on people might seem like a hard thing for me to cope with (given my track record) but it really isn’t. I have been waiting for over 35 years for people and technology to be discussed as if they belong together, as opposed to being at odds with each other. My hat’s off to the people at AIIM for deciding to push this notion forward.
Now that the AIIM Conference is over, I have to prepare for another presentation. This time, I will be pairing up again with my User Experience mentor Jill Hart as we talk about Usability at the 2012 SNEC-PMI conference.
A little further down the line, I will be part of a panel at Info360, talking about SharePoint adoption. AIIM and Info360 used to be one great conference, but beginning this year they are two great conferences. I love the fact that I am going to get a chance to be on stage at the Javits Center before someone tears it down and moves NY conferences to Queens. I used to live in Queens, and I don’t think that when people talk about visiting NY, they’re talking about Queens, unless they have relatives there.
Information Management, Usability, Adoption – three disparate topics, or components of the same stool? I’m going with the stool analogy, and I’m going to say that Information Management is the seat, the goal, the functional element we are trying to achieve. Usability, adoption and technology are the legs. Throughout my career, technology has gotten the lion’s share of my attention. Although I have seen one-legged stools, I’m not sure I want to build one or use one. Now, with the additional focus on those other legs, I get a sense that we are building stronger solutions. I also get the sense that the solutions we are building in SharePoint are going to be easier to market. Simply put, Information Management is an easier sell than Content Management, which is just one of the reasons I like the show name Info360.
Information is truly all around us; our 360° view includes an amazing array of information sources and an equally large number of consumers. This is the nature of business today, but that is a concept that we (information professionals) understand better than our counterparts in other areas of business. Technically, I’m not in the business of selling SharePoint; I’m trying to solve the real-life business problem of connecting the creators and consumers of information. When I consider that as my goal, I start to appreciate the need to attend conferences, follow blogs, to follow people on Twitter and other social media – in other words, the need to join the conversation. In many of the presentations I have given, I have included the following quote (Attributed to Albert Einstein):
“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them”
We need new ideas, and the chances that we are going to stumble upon a lot of them, let alone the best ones by ourselves are pretty slim. I need help, and the best place to find the people that can help me are at events like this. These events are also a fantastic place to meet the people you already follow in order to match a face with an avatar.
In many of the sessions I attended at the AIIM Conference, people talked about the role that user experience has in driving the adoption of information management technology (see, three legs). I heard researchers tell us how people will ignore or find ways to work around technology that does not offer a good user experience. I heard practitioners talk about and demonstrate the ways that they achieve a good user experience. In addition, I heard prognosticators like John Mancini talk about how fast the trend toward social, mobile, and local solutions is moving. As much as I love SharePoint, selecting it as our information management platform didn’t exactly give us the pole position in the race for a good user experience. SharePoint, if I can extend yet another analogy, is a fantastic race track, but we have to build the winning car. My team (maybe I’ll start referring to them as my pit crew) and I are learning how to do that, but we know that we have to continue to learn and I expect that we will have to pick up the pace. I hope to see you at Info360 in NY, where the learning will continue.