Tuesday, December 13, 2005

AIIM New England Analyst Panel

As mentioned in a previous post I was on a panel for the AIIM NE yearly event today. Sadly IDC's Sue Feldman was unable to attend due to Jury Duty, but Carl Frappolo of Delphi and Steve Weissman of Kinetic Information, very ably moderated by AIIM's Peggy Winton, were in there to argue it out with me :-)

I focused on the emergence of the infrastructure vendors into the content management space, and how I have long believed that they should indeed own this space. That if they did then this provided a solid and (relatively) open platform for other to build best of breed solutions off. Overall the sentiment went down quite well I think, and though Carl gamely tried to make a battle of it - in fairness I think we all pretty much agreed with one another.

One theme that did emerge during the morning event was that of the lack of skills. Interestingly nobody appeared to doubt that there was a serious skills shortage in the industry, particularly around taxonomy building, library skills and record management.

Worryingly though there was little agreement on what could be done about this or what the long term impact of the shortage would be. In fairness AIIM is launching a certification scheme, and ARMA already has one - the industry bodies I guess are doing what they can. The issue for me at least seems to be that there remains an unspoken but incorrect belief that technology will find a way to deal with these kind of things for us.

I briefly mentioned to the audience that when I worked in Oil & gas, finding documents and drawings was not a problem. We knew exactly where they were - getting them distributed to remote sites was a problem. With electronic documents the delivery issue is pretty much resolved, things can be delivered instantaneously. But now we have to go search for documents, as many of the RM and DM skills have been lost and newcomers to the discipline rely eroneously on technology to file things correctly.

It seems like a pedantic and maybe even irrelevant point to make - but the way I see it is that managing and distributing documents is at the core of all DM/CM/ECM and most KM work - whether we like to admit it or not. Yet this is what we are getting worse at, not better. We are distributing without control, often to the wrong people, and even more often the wrong versions or information that is completely irrelevant. We are unable to manage the volumes of documents produced effectively, and now have a tendancy of simply throwing things in a huge bucket.

We have far more information than we need, the ease of distribution without control is frightening and we appear to have lost many of the skills to reign the beast in. If this skills shortage is not addressed then the problem will simply grow.

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