I have returned from AIIM where there was a real contrast from some of the conferences I have been to lately. Having floated around the open source and Web 2.0 world, it seems like between that and the enterprise software world represented by AIIM are two distinct universes where beings never interact. The former is becoming distinctly much more populated as well. The AIIM Show shared with the OnDemand Conference representing tens of billions of dollars of spending and production is physically very big with lots of huge stands and huge machines. OnDemand Expo, indicated by red isle carpets, is about on demand printing, not on demand computing, and hosts giant printing machines from the likes of Kodak, Xerox, Cannon and HP. Alfresco exhibited in the AIIM Expo half indicated by the blue carpets.
"You mean that in your universe services are free and source code is open? That is illogical." From the episode Mirror, Mirror of that well-known television series
Since the East Coast was hit by bad late April weather, a lot of people found it difficult to make it to the conference compared to previous years. Even the IRS gave New Englanders a break on sending in their income tax this year due to the weather. It makes you wonder if Boston is a great place to host an event like this though. It could be that people are time shifting into that other dimension. Those left behind are vendors talking among themselves. However, traffic seemed to pick up on the Wednesday and Thursday. Still, there was a definite lack of energy in the conference. Vendors talking to vendors is no fun, especially when some companies had giant booths filled with people talking to other people from the same company. The bar next door at the Westin, the only source of beer within a mile, was heaving after the show with people who just seemed to be relieved that the day was over.
Parallel to the expos was the AIIM and OnDemand conferences which shared keynotes. I attended the sessions on the first day and actually found them very informative. Unfortunately, I missed the first 15 minutes of John Mancini’s presentation on the state of the ECM market due to some confusion on the AIIM conference web site. Russ Stalters was disappointed in the presentation, but I found the latter half pretty interesting. John talked about the measurable benefits of using ECM came in the second half of his presentation. These statistics say that ECM is important and that it is growing. Some key points:
- 53% of enterprises email retention as a key driver for ECM
- 37% see compliance as an ECM driver
- 36% see business continuity and risk as a driver
- 53% of enterprises that rely on ECM manage electronic information effectively vs. 11% who don't rely on ECM
- 45% of ECM enterprises can find customer information in less than a week compared to 30% of non-ECM enterprises
- 60% of ECM enterprises have confidence in their electronic information vs. 30% of non-ECM enterprises
- 56% of ECM private enterprises believe that they are more profitable than their peers vs. 37% of non-ECM private enterprises
These statistics show how important ECM is to American enterprises and it should galvanize the industry. But I think the lack of energy in the expo and the conference comes from continuing to try and bind AIIM to OnDemand together. As one journalist put it, you have one half of the show telling the world that printing on paper is still important and the other half trying to eliminate it. Bringing two brands together dilutes both and defocuses each from what should be their main goals and objectives. Nothing indicates this more than the content of Charlie Pesko, the speaker after John Mancini and the CEO of InfoTrends, who told those in the audience who were interested in printing to adopt the ways of the online world or go out of business. AIIM should be at the forefront of helping enterprises get completely online and avoid the old physical models of printing.
Charlie’s talk, although phrased in Web 1.0 terminology, told us that the print on demand market is maturing and that companies that purely focus on printing are at great risk. This should have come as no surprise to anyone since the boom of the 1990s. Still, I found some of the insights interesting since I have not paid as much attention to this area in the last few years. I didn’t know that color printing was still a growth market and growing at 15% CAGR. I also discovered that the cost of color printing has gone from $1.05 in 1995 to 40 cents now to 20 cents in the next five years. His solution for print service providers to take advantage of this growth in hardware was to focus on adding value to what is being printed. Add workflow so that you can efficiently handle all the processing, since every time a human touches a print job you will lose money. Chillingly, I discovered that the big market will be to take all those mail inserts that you throw away and add them to your bills through glossy printing so that you can’t throw them away, something he called TransPromo or Transactional Promotion. Yikes! I can now see a path to everyone getting all their bills electronically.
How much more different could the next speaker be than one who wants to get rid the marketing tactics that breed all things “TransPromo”. Arkadi Kuhlman is the CEO of ING Direct, which is the largest internet bank after 5 years in business and now one of the top 30 banks in the US. All the things that Arkadi talked about were the concepts that Open Source and Web 2.0 espouse. He talked about turning the banking model upside down where banks currently just keep creating more paper and more profit. He chose to operate the company like a modern retailer with high-volume, low cost services. He encouraged the bank to build customer advocacy, aligning itself with the issues that customers care about rather than coerce them and upsell them through TransPromo marketing initiatives. Customers opt-in, not opt-out. This is not just about technology, but in viewing the customer in a different way and AIIM really needs to take this on board.
After that uplifting talk, how low could Microsoft stoop than to give a SharePoint pitch and demo as an industry trends talk? I’ll tell you that I completely rewrote my Web 2.0 presentation to eliminate practically all traces of Alfresco in order to be more neutral and engage in a conversation that is important. I think Jeff Teper could have done the same thing, but he is a busy guy. His nod to wider issues was that other people on the show floor could do the same things as Sharepoint. Jeff did bring up some interesting points on the bifurcation of the Governance and Empowerment cultures and the need to provide the best of both to most enterprises. I read the descriptions of Empowerment as including Web 2.0 features, since later they demonstrated wikis and blogs inside of SharePoint. However, the demo by Group Product Manager Arpan Shah did little to show us how ECM is really going to change except that you can add a wiki and a blog. I’ll write more about this tomorrow.
Later in the afternoon, I went to some of the sessions. I attended Tony Byrne’s session on Convergence of Content and Data as I indicated in my blog. Unfortunately for Tony there were probably only about 20 people in the session, not counting the four panellists and Tony. Far more popular were the getting started sessions and the session on records management. Wilson and I did alright in our session on Web 2.0 and ECM given the overall attendance of the conference. However, Rory Staunton asked the question “Why are you here?” during the question and answer session. “Good question!” I replied. My response was that I was interested in a dialog in what is going to be really important for ECM.
Now I could have gone to the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. Certainly the weather would have been a lot better. However, AIIM is a good show for us. It shows that we are playing in the same market as the large players. It is where we have met many of our OEM customers. AIIM represents billions of dollars in revenues and millions of end users and for that reason they are important. But they have lost the opportunity to engage in the bigger debate of where do enterprises go to go on line and engage in conversation with their customers. How do they take that transactional information and constructively use it to help their customers. It is not through TransPromo! Take a look at the following graphs of the blogs going on around both the AIIM and Web 2.0 Conferences.
Note that there are many times the number of blogs talking about the Web 2.0 Expo and probably tens to hundreds of thousands of readers. This is about the conversations that all enterprises should be having with their customers. Web 2.0 is not about billions of dollars in revenue today, but it will be about billions of dollars in the future. AIIM must release itself from the big ticket machines of the past and look forward to the content-rich services of the future.