The following are a few personal observations from the AIIM 2000 Show and Conference, held this year in New York City. The show featured over 300 exhibitors, many of which were introducing new products, and over 34,000 attendees. The conference drew almost 2000 attendees to hear presentations on a wide range of topics. For those less familiar with it, the Association for Information and Image Management, International, is the trade association for the document imaging and document management industries. It began many years ago as the National Micrographics Association and has broadened its scope and changed its name as the document handling technologies have broadened and changed. It conducts an annual show and conference in the U.S., in Spring, and also in Europe, in Fall. The U.S. event is one of the largest IT industry exhibitions, drawing predominantly from the private sector and from state government agencies. AIIM is also an ANSI-accredited voluntary standards organization.
I would summarize this year's event in the terms 'electronic commerce' and 'electronic enterprise.' The first deals with information-based activities between business partners, while the second focuses on information processes and management within enterprises. The particular aspect of greatest interest this year, for both e-commerce and e-enterprises from a technology perspective, could be summed in the word "integration." The trade publications we all see have been full of materials on this subject, so I won't repeat what people have been following already, except to suggest that they might wish to check out the broadening product architectures and offerings of some of the AIIM vendor companies that are cited in Priscilla Emery's excellent summary of the AIIM 2000 event, at http://www.aiim.org/events/aiim2000/showwrapup/.
Show Summary and Impressions
My impression of the vendor exhibits and presentations that what was new this year was the amount of ASP (Application Service Provider) offerings in general, and particularly the offerings for hosting parts or all of e-commerce communications, transactions, and records. E-commerce is spurring the growth of third-party intermediaries and outsourcers who host parts or all of e-commerce implementations on a pricing basis that lets enterprises launch applications speedily, with minimal staffing and without necessitating an infrastructure creation.
Much of the AIIM Show is about document management and imaging in production settings for business activities ranging from a few documents a day to massive volumes - in the thousands per day. The integrations that seem to be of primary focus for these products are with workflow support and support for the electronic acquisition and communication of documents, in addition to the input of paper documents. Increasingly, that electronic acquisition is via the technologies of e-mail (asynchronous) and Web interaction (synchronous). Additionally, document management products are supporting post-processing interfaces to Web servers, whereby the outputs of document processes can be appropriately-tagged Web pages.
Thus, document management products are growing richer not only in their processing capabilities but in their inputs and outputs. Part of this is being driven by the desires of large enterprise customers, and part by the need to establish the products in the higher end of the capability range before Microsoft and Lotus make their expected introductions of new low-end mass-market document management products and features. Richness in inputs and outputs isn't limited to Web applications but applies generally and includes embedded images, database references, hyperlinks, and application invocations. While workflow integration is already important and widespread, it is steadily becoming even more so, along with multimedia features.
AIIM shows include three keynote presentations from persons or panels with strong ties to the products and services involved in the shows, and the ones this year focused largely on challenges in integrations and applications design in a Web world that is multi-national in scope. AIIM publishes many technical documents, and also a bi-monthly magazine with articles relating to document and image management and technology. The magazine was changed recently in name and format, to relate it more to electronic document involvement in electronic commerce. The new format debuted at AIIM 2000 (see www.aiim.org/edoc/).
Conference Summary and Impressions
This year's conference was built around the general topics of imaging technologies, document management, forms processing, knowledge management, workflow, records management, business processes and implementation issues, web technologies, e-business (technology and management), global industry issues, security, and customer relationship management. AIIM conference presenters are generally leading figures in their respective fields who are able to speak from considerable practical experience as either suppliers, consultants, or users. Although almost all sessions are oriented to the private sector, there are occasional illustrations from public sector situations. Considering that the private sector generally is more advanced than the public sector, this orientation is a strong reason for attending.
I have observed that every year the level of interest in records management has been increasing. This year, it seemed to be twice that of 1999. The reasons are in e-commerce and web-based transactional activities, including the intensifying focus on privacy concerns, combined with laws and government regulations. It seems that businesses are recognizing that e-commerce requires careful recordkeeping to support it in the eyes of lawyers, regulators, and private citizens; and that the recordkeeping involves technologies and techniques that are different at least in some ways from those that have been used in traditional data processing applications. The conference sessions on these topics appeared to draw attendees from all levels and aspects of user and vendor organizations, from senior management to project programmers.
With respect to records management, perhaps the greatest difference between the private and public sector interests is the concern about evidence discovery. Private sector enterprises are coming to recognize that their economic exposures in information stores outside the formal recordkeeping systems may exceed those associated with the formal systems. Thus, enterprises are seeking two solutions in parallel, one for the records management needed to support e-commerce and the other to minimize exposures in all the rest of the recorded information in the enterprise. The AIIM sessions dealt with both, including case-study illustrations of electronic discovery and its consequences.
Standards Summary and Impressions
AIIM runs a "Standards Week" in parallel with the Show and Conference, during which many of the standards committees hold meetings. (Gradually, standards committees are transitioning to electronic modes of interaction and business operations, with fewer physical meetings.) The meetings of most interest to myself dealt with aspects of information and document management. The AIIM Web site at http://www.aiim.org/industry/standards under the first link, "ANSI/ISO Standards Program," has a splendid overview slide presentation on "Life Cycle of Document Management Standards," and also listings of the various standards committees and their activities. Although most AIIM standards committees focus on technology, some deal with aspects of information management.
[Editor's Note: The direct link to Marilyn Wright's excellent PowerPoint presentation on the life cycle of document management standards is http://www.aiim.org/industry/LifeCycleDocStds.ppt. See especially slide #27, which highlights that we must be smart consumers in insisting upon compliance with interoperability standards. Otherwise we should not be surprised that vendors have every incentive to sell us proprietary products that do not interoperate.]
AIIM has announced that its AIIM 2001 Show and Conference will be at the Javits Convention Center in New York City, April 30-May 2. AIIM 2002 will be at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Thereafter, the annual event is expected to alternate between the two locations.