Back in August, I had the privilege of hearing Scott Berkun speak. If you don’t know who he is, you should. He regularly shares nuggets of wisdom that reveal a man that not only seeks to learn from research and experience, but can also merge the two into solid advice.
When I saw him speak at the DC User Experience Professionals Association meeting, he was talking about his book Mindfire. He was giving out free copies to those that participated in the presentation/discussion. When I “earned” my book, I traded for The Myths of Innovation. An earlier book of his, it is one that gets to the root of why I listen to Scott Berkun.
Enough prelude, let’s talk about the book.
The Nuts and Bolts
In The Myths of Innovation, Scott tackles many of the “Myths” that people have about innovation. Actually, the myths are about old innovations that he dispels while demonstrating that the assumptions about innovation that people have drawn from those myths are not true.
This isn’t to say that he discounts the efforts or accomplishments of Isaac Newton, the Wright brothers, or Steve Jobs. On the contrary, he essentially gives them more credit because the facts around their myths reveal the real work and effort that went into their advancements.
In fact, one thing that Scott stresses is that innovation is work. It does not come in an epiphany unless the proper groundwork has been laid. That flash of insight is likely the result of a lot of effort that culminates when the subconscious decides to release the results of its efforts.
Scott does more than smash myths and misunderstandings, he clearly explains the reality behind each concept with examples drawn from both history and modern day companies. These real life examples help illustrate how much work innovation is and how even then it sometimes isn’t enough.
One thing that Scott points out is something that I’ve heard many people observe of late…the word ”Innovation” is over-used. We cannot force innovation. We can enable creativity among ourselves and our colleagues. What comes out of it may be innovative or it may just be simply new and useful.
You can set out to be innovative, but success depends upon your output, not just your efforts. You do have to work at it to have a chance, as everyone has in the past, but true innovation can be elusive.
I’ve created a lot of cool things in my time, solving some tough problems. Were they innovative? Maybe? If they were, they were limited in scope. That doesn’t make me less proud of what I’ve done. My accomplishments are the same that they’ve always been. Innovative? Maybe not.
Read it. If you want to foster creativity in the hope of doing something truly innovative, read this book. It offers ideas and helps you to take a different angle as to what is required to enable creativity.
I think one of the most important lesson is that there is no single formula. What helps be be creative won’t necessarily work for my colleagues. As a leader, if I want my staff to be creative, I have to create an atmosphere where they can feel free to try new things and collaborate in an environment that works best for them and not myself.
I’m happy and sad about this session. I LOVE having the Roadmap session starting a conference off on the right foot. On the other hand, not a big fan of a conference starting on a Sunday. Blows a whole weekend and there are some people to whom taking Sunday as a day of rest/worship is still important.
The speakers are Don Prodehl (VP Research & Development) Darryl Hopkins (Director R&D/ Product Manager), and Craig Dellorso (Chief Customer Officer).
This week, or at least for half of the week, I am at the Avectra User and Developer Conference (AUDC) in Orlando this year. Avectra is the platform that AIIM chose as our core Association Management Software (AMS) platform. As the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of AIIM, I pretty much need to make Avectra my priority. Everything works off of it.
I have no idea how I’ll share my experience between twitter and here at the Word. This is my first time so I’m not sure how the muse will possess me. Regardless of the outcome, I wanted to let everyone understand what I’m doing.
In case I decide to publish raw notes, I wanted to share this disclaimer for those that are unfamiliar with my style. Enjoy.
All information in this post was gathered from the presenters and presentation. It does not reflect my opinion unless clearly indicated (Italics in parenthesis). Any errors are most likely from my misunderstanding a statement or imperfectly recording the information. Updates to correct information are reflected in red, but will not be otherwise indicated.
All statements about the future of Avectra products and strategy are subject to change at any time due to a large variety of factors.
For years, people have talked about the different generations that make-up the digital world. There is the Baby Boom Generation, Generation X, Generation Y, and the Millennials. At some point, the concept of the digital native was introduced. Depending on who you talk to, digital natives typically start somewhere in the Generation Y generation.
I am a Generation Xer. I am not a “digital native” by anyone’s definition. I may be an early adopter from Generation X, but no matter how well I adapt to the changing technology, I am not a digital native. I still remember using rotary phones and a time when the most advanced technology in the home was the television sitting on the floor.
The same division can be made with technology companies. There are many different generations. There is the Mainframe Generation, the Enterprise Generation (the client-server), and the Cloud Generation. In software there is also a strong DNA strain of Open Source, though those vendors can still be categorized in specific generations.
Today I am breaking my blogging drought by cheating. By cheating I mean that I attended a breakfast hosted by ICF Ironworks and Sitecore to hear Ron Rogowski of Forrester speak on Customer Experience Management. During the session I, among others, tweeted quite a bit using the hash tag #icfcxm.
Before diving in, want to say that Ron was smart, knowledgeable, and entertaining. The room was heavy with Association types and his experience in the space was minimal but most of what he said applied very nicely to the world of Associations.
Why Customer Experience Management
I know that many, including myself, will call it a craponym, but CEM/CXM is a valid concept. Knock the marketing lingo all you want, managing the customer’s experience with you and your brand is critical. As proof of this, Ron pointed to someone who had taken the top 10 companies in CXM, as per Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, and the bottom 10 companies and tracked their stock price over five years.
You know what he found?
I’ve always enjoyed attending events like this. Whether it is a random meet-up group, a local AIIM chapter, or one of the bigger seminars/conferences, talking to people the best way to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry.
When I was a consultant working with multiple clients, I would be very focused on a subset of the industry from both a technology and business perspective. Getting out and trading war stories with others was a great way to learn, let off steam, and to make sure that I never lost sight of the bigger picture.
There is a war being waged in organizations across the world. What started off as simple attempts to make things easier for mobile users has escalated into a full-fledge attack on the Enterprise.
Oh, they haven’t made such a bold declaration. Well, not most of them. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a war taking place. It also doesn’t mean that the war is such a bad thing. After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who said,
Every generation needs a new Revolution.
If you ask anyone in the Valley, they’ll say that they only mean to help. They believe it when they say that they come in peace.
Which they don’t.
They mean to take almost everything we’ve done the last couple of decades, throw it out, and “install” their vision of the future.
Don’t get me wrong, they have the same desire to improve things as Steve Jobs, their idol, did last decade for consumer electronics. Unfortunately for the Enterprise, replacing your Content Management System (CMS) is slightly more complicated than changing phones.
Especially when the new CMS doesn’t deliver the 9x improvement we’ve come to expect from the consumer revolution.
Ripe for Conquest
Let’s face some hard truths. Enterprise software, especially Content Management, hasn’t exactly been a slam dunk success. Many IT projects fail and they still take too long to finish, even when executed properly.
The reason is that they are complex. The systems insert themselves into the workday and don’t always deliver enough new functionality to justify the added burden. Do not forget that it often appears that “User Experience” seems to be a foreign concept to many vendors.
To be fair, the complexity doesn’t start with the vendors. Have you seen some of the Record Plans out there? They aren’t quick reads. When buying CMSs with Records Management (RM) features, or a stand-alone RM system, that complexity is forced upon the vendors.
I cannot tell you how many organizations I have been to with STRICT Records Management requirements that barely have basic Content Management under control. I’m not talking years ago, I’m talking recently.
There are real issues out there, making Enterprise IT ripe for attack.
Complexity through Simplicity
This opportunity has been targeted by Silicon Valley. Their approach is simple. They allow users to do basic business activities, without complexity. Soon, a significant portion of your staff are using this software. Like a good espionage unit, agents from the Valley are in your organization laying the groundwork for a revolution.
There isn’t only one cloud vendor infiltrating your organization. This is leading to the first problem, which is “cloud sprawl”. Remember when every office had its own systems? Now imagine every user or project using their own system. Chaos.
Once your organization is ripe for takeover, the cloud vendors swoop in and promise everything will be better if you just commit and make the switch. At this point, you just want only one of these cloud vendors creating chaos, not 3-4 of them. You sign the contract, embracing the chaos.
Then things start to get more complicated. Remember all those complex requirements to meet your legal requirements? Those needs have to met in other systems because the cloud providers can’t support those features and they cannot be customized to implement them.
Now there are redundant systems that are in place strictly to meet those requirements. Want them to talk to each other, good luck. The cloud vendors may love creating APIs for you to use but they don’t seem to care about support the industry interoperability standards. You can make the systems work together, but you have to do the work and maintain the code.
We need a truce in this war. Silicon Valley and the Enterprise need to work together. Things are broken but the systems can’t just be bulldozed to make way for a new world. There is a middle ground and both sides acknowledge it.
For those that have been paying attention to AIIM recently, you may have noticed that our website wasn’t performing at 100%. While the website has never been the fastest, it had been dramatically slower recently.
We’ve been working on thing to improve the user experience but sometimes circumstances catch-up with you as it did this week. I thought I would share a little case study in addressing Website performance.
If you aren’t a regular visitor to AIIM’s website, in addition to standard content delivery, we have some basic Community features including blogs, profiles, and discussions. In addition, members can update their information and preferences stored in our Association Management System (AMS). One final feature is that our training courses are all available directly through our website.
In 2012 we saw a steady rise in traffic, which is good. We were seeing more engagement and more of our research and content being accessed by a wider audience than before. We also noticed a trend of people taking more of our online courses instead of the traditional in-person courses.
Seeing this, we made plans to improve our scalability. Then reality hit.
Over the years, I’ve advised companies on whether or not they need a suite of “good enough” or a collection of “best of breed” solutions. There are pros and cons to each approach and I’ve now decided that both approaches stink.
What people really need is the best solution for their “most important business problem” and then everything else can be good enough. Some systems are too important to not be the best but it is prohibitive to expand that to everything.
Looking in the Mirror
AIIM is an association, so it should go without saying that our most important system is our Association Management System (AMS). This is the system in which we track everything about AIIM. This system has to be Best of Breed, or at least meet all of our needs today and tomorrow.
Everything else can be good enough. The AMS drives things in our world. The website needs to reliable but it doesn’t have to be the fanciest one out there. Our finances aren’t that crazy so we don’t need the top-of-the-line system there either. In fact, we can trade off features for cost on almost anything.
When I was in consulting, our financial systems were the most important systems. We had to track all hours worked against thousands of projects and be able to measure the profit against how much we invested in winning the work. Almost every decision made was driven by the financial systems. That had to be top-notch. Everything else could be worked around.
Flexibility in Approach
My new advice is to have you sit back and determine what one or two key systems “stir the pot” in your organization. Those are the systems that you can’t afford to compromise upon. Sure, there will be bells and whistles that you don’t need, but you need the system to work and meet your needs for the foreseeable future.
As for everything else, it has to basic meet the basic requirement of not getting in the way of business and be able to support the key systems.
None of this is as easy as it sounds but nothing worthwhile ever is.
In my predictions for 2013, I made the following prediction on the future of the traditional “leaders” in the Content Management space.
First Major On-Premises Traditional ECM Vendor will become Obsolete: I know, obvious right? Statistically speaking, one of those vendors will likely still be a market leader in 10 years. In 2013, we’ll see our next elimination for that spot (though they will be in denial). To make this easier to measure, I’ll name the contenders: EMC, IBM, Open Text, and Oracle. Microsoft falls into this category but it won’t be them, at least not in 2013.
Aside from simple statistical probability, I saw a few things this fall that led to this prediction.
- Talked to people attending the IBM Information OnDemand while I was in Las Vegas.
- Attended the Open Text conference in Orlando.
- Watched the news out of Momentum Europe.
- Kept my eyes open.
What I’ve seen is a scary amount of consistency among the players.