A Story about AIIM 2009, the Economy and RO.jpg

For those of you who missed last week's AIIM content management conference in Philadelphia, here’s a little recap. It was actually a conference about the recession.

The tiny bit of exaggeration aside, word on the e-street is that concerns surrounding our economic downturn dominated the keynote talks and panels, while the rest of the conference was sprinkled with popular topics like enterprise CMS and ROI.

Three Letters on Everyone’s Minds

Everyone is talking about ROI these days. Everyone including company leaders, employees, various speakers at AIIM 2009 and especially us bloggers. One such writer is Ron Miller of FierceContentManagement, also an attendee of this year's event, notes that in light of the economy, vendors are realizing that not only do they need to solve concrete business problems, they also need to do it in a specific time frame and for as little money as possible.

Both writing and reading that statement out like that makes it sound like such an obvious way to do things -- solve problems fast, for cheap and make sure you start small. But in the world of content management, it took a recession for ideas surrounding this method to infiltrate their way into the discussion.

Whatever the reason behind enterprise content management’s slow change of pace, ROI is no doubt fueling the majority of today’s solutions. It’s a harsh reality that’s truer than ever today. If you take that philosophy and apply it to how you pitch what you want to sell, the outcome is a story rather than a bulleted list of features.

Stories sell, lists don’t. ROI and the thousands of tools for measuring it that are popping up all over the web help build these stories and reveal trends in the enterprise. The value of something like that is, well, limitless.

Money, Efficiency, Better Results -- No Pressure

Of course, there are two sides to every story. One question that circulated in and around this year’s event was whether or not ROI projections could actually be trusted. After all, they’re always presented without much attention to possible negative outcomes.

The general consensus at AIIM was plainly that there is a need to be filled and it needs to be filled now, regardless of whether or not projections are on point. Money will always matter, but for now desperate times call for desperate measures -- and a lot of risk taking.

In 2009, IT will likely face more pressure than ever before. Especially in our current economic state, CIOs will feel the heat when it comes to their ability to deliver better business efficiency, risk reduction and rapid ROI in our current era of information explosion.

If CIOs want to power through times like these, it's absolutely necessary to acknowledge the demands from employees, partners and customers for transparency and a more open flow of information enabled by social networks and collaborative web 2.0 applications.

The staggering amount of user generated data and increased information sharing is backing vendors into a corner, and our guess is that they're going to do whatever they have to do to tame it, and ultimately generate value from it. 

Additionally (and on a more positive note) the general mood at the conference was seemingly positive in spite of all the shakiness going on. Even despite the fact that attendance rates were said to be much lower than in the previous years, the sluggish economy didn't stop knowledge sharing altogether.

The AIIM conference can be a great way to connect with colleagues and prospects in the content management solutions market. It is reassuring that even in this economy, organizations are still looking to connect and explore new technologies.

There's Always Next Year

AIIM 2010 information is already avaiable. If you're interested in seeing where we go from here, and what we can do in a year beginning on the cusp of either something really amazing or total pandemonium, register now and be a part of the next chapter in enterprise content management.