It’s likely that I won’t be attending a SharePoint Conference in 2013. For those of you that like to get right to the point, it’s because I came to the AIIM Conference instead. If you care about the complex reasoning behind that, please keep reading. I have a limited amount of money in my training budget, my travel budget and I have a limited number of days that I can be away from the office. I have to be very selective when it comes to choosing which events I will attend.
In the interest of transparency, I feel I should point out that I recently joined the Board of Directors of AIIM. Why is that relevant? Well, there are four Board meetings that I have to attend, and even though those meetings are scheduled to accommodate parachuting in, staying overnight and scooting home, they still hit the budget. When I asked my boss if I could serve on the AIIM Board, I agreed that I would try to offset the days away from the office by eliminating other travel. Given all the moving parts in this equation, I was left with choosing between attending one of several SharePoint specific conferences or attending the AIIM Conference. Here’s a look at my analysis:
Which contributes more to me as a person? – This is a tough question to answer. I have participated in both SharePoint conferences and AIIM as an attendee and as a speaker, and both have been rewarding. I have made friends at both, and both give me the opportunity to connect with old friends and make new ones…hmm, this looks like a tie. Wait, there is a tie breaker, if I have to draw a line between ECM and SharePoint geekery, I would be standing on the ECM side. The how-to and wow-factor nature of presentations I’ve attended at SharePoint events appeals to me, but the geeky side of me. Sorry, I have to tip this ever-so-slightly to AIIM.
Which contributes more to my career? – I am in charge of Information Services in our company. AIIM is a Community of Information Professionals; is it that simple? Yes, it really is that simple. SharePoint is a tool that I use, that I endorse, that I selected and it’s a tool that I promote within our organization, but it’s one of many such tools. All the tools in my toolbox act upon our company’s information, so the better I understand information, the better I understand the myriad tools available and the better I understand what the future means to our information, the better I will be able to do my job. The better I do my job, the better my career will be – my employer is funny like that. When I look at the opportunity to listen to and learn from Seth Godin, David Weinberger, David Pogue, Michael Chul, Cheryl McKinnon, Thornton May, Laurence Hart and John Mancini (to name a few), I have to say “I don’t want to miss that!”
Which is best for my employer? – That’s a fair question; after all they are picking up the tab. I think ANI is better served by my being exposed to a broad array of information management ideas, even though we currently use SharePoint. This is a point that some people have suggested that I’ve got wrong. Their argument is: “since you are using SharePoint, the best use of ANI’s money would be for you to learn how to use SharePoint better.” I say “maybe the best use of their money would be for me to question whether or not we should continue using SharePoint at all.” That might be a little cheeky, but we can’t assume that just because we made a decision, that it continues to be the best decision we can make. Maybe there is something that I’m missing simply because SharePoint doesn’t do it. Besides, it’s not always either/or, I can add tools alongside SharePoint.
Which contributes more to the success of our SharePoint implementation? – AIIM is the clear winner here, because the important thing that I need to master isn’t so much how to do things in SharePoint. The important thing is to do the things that I happen to be doing in SharePoint, better. Let me give you a couple quick examples:
It’s more important to know how to properly design metadata than it is to know how to configure a metadata column in SharePoint.
It’s more important to know when to call something a Record vs. Managed Content than it is to know how to create a Records Library in SharePoint.
These are answers I can get from people who may be using Box, or Nuxeo, or Alfresco, or Documentum. I can hear all these answers at AIIM, separate the concept from the product and apply the lessons to my SharePoint farm.
AIIM Conference 2013 was amazing, and I will sign-up for AIIM14 as soon as registration opens!