An AIIM Keynote at a Kodak Alaris Conference

Today I ended up at the Kodak Alaris Global Directions 2013 Conference here in Washington, DC. It is good to see that Kodak’s implosion didn’t kill their imaging business. In addition to talking to people how Alfresco can add value to their Kodak deployment, I got to listen to John Mancini give the day two keynote, Intelligent Information Management – Transforming the Customer Experience.

I must say, it was a new experience watching John talk after having been his Chief Information Officer (CIO). Thankfully he has evolved his talk. When I first started at AIIM, his theme was that CIO’s didn’t “get it”. Now it focuses on the pressure that CIOs are under.

Buyer Migration is in Motion

John spent a fair amount of time talking about how the buyer is shifting from IT to the business. There is a shift from solutions being a technology buy to a business buy. There are lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is that average business person wants software that is as easy to use as their iPad.

This is where a good CIO can step in and make a difference. The CIO can work with a business to make a purchase decision that is both good for the business and a fit for IT. That is why the CIO role is so critical. The compliance and security needs haven’t gone away, but having a system that is usable by the average person is now a driving factor.

As John pointed out, saving money and reducing risk isn’t enough for a project anymore. Solutions now have to create value. That is why Information Governance projects have so much trouble getting funded, no value is being created.

That is no longer acceptable.

Rules for Engagement

The way organizations engage with customers is changing. People now have more power than ever through Twitter, blogs, and videos.

John then talked about the the need need to change the conversation. Normally, vendors engage with potential clients explaining What they do followed by How they do it. It is only after that point that the deeper question of Why they do it is asked. We need to start with the Why. It is what Apple does every day.

Why do we do what we do? Can we take that vision and inspire others to join us on that journey? It is a hard question to answer, but when answered, it can inspire devoted followers.

You call it by its more traditional name, Brand Loyalty.

Not Just Engagement, but Evolution

There is another set of questions that we all ask ourselves as we go through every day life that provides  some depth to this. Douglas Adams said it quite nicely in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe:

The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry, and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases.

For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question “How can we eat?”, the second by the question “Why do we eat?” and the third by the question, “Where shall we have lunch?”

Substitute “Where” with “What” and you almost have the same paradigm. An organization may decide How they are going to change the world first, but only by looking deep inside to answer Why can they achieve a future where What is a simple transaction.

If you can convey Why to clients, partners, and prospects in such as way that they see your same vision and passion, everything else will come easy.

How else does Apple price a “cheap” iPhone at over $500?