- The Information Governance Initiative (IGI). Founded in 2014 and led by Barclay Blair, the IGI focuses on information governance, emphasis on the governance.
- The Information Coalition (IC) was founded last week. From the creators of InfoGovCon, the IC seems to be staking out a broad territory to bring people from across the industry together.
When you take into account the long history of AIIM and ARMA in this industry, it is clear that the community at-large feels it has needs not currently being met by the existing associations. CM Pros failed after failing to determine what value they could offer, at what cost, and how they could be distinct from AIIM and ARMA.
What does the entry of these new players mean?
ARMA, The Past Incarnate
No need to dwell upon ARMA much. They have a vital role in the records management industry and a strong chapter program that should be the envy of the other associations. What they don’t have is a command of the future.
ARMA’s leadership knows that they must expand into information governance and the broader space but ARMA seems to be consistently holding back. Outside of the ARMA membership, perception is that they are still heavily records management. To alter that perception is going to take some revolutionary work. Work that is not historically associated with ARMA.
AIIM, Evolved into Disconnection
AIIM was originally an association focused upon microfilm. Their very existence today is a testament to their ability to evolve. If you judge by their conference keynotes, they are still trying to push the cutting edge by discussing digital transformation. It all looks good on paper.
Then in December AIIM killed the CIP. A week later, after a wave of protests across social media, the CIP was revived. There is an updated test outline in draft but it is a more narrow outline than the original. Some of the removals (telecommuting) were solid but others (business intelligence) are a real loss. These changes may reduce the scope of the CIP to an enterprise content management (ECM) certification, which we do not need.
All of this just shows that AIIM is out-of-touch with its professional membership. Most chapters are weak and none receive a lot of help from the AIIM headquarters.
I went to a DC chapter meeting in the last year and there were maybe 15 people in attendance. In downtown Washington, DC! Just a metro ride from AIIM’s main office in Silver Spring. DC is loaded with information professionals and yet only 15 people!
Chapters just do not get support from headquarters. The one thing that all associations try and do, build a community, is not actively supported by AIIM HQ. This is in spite of the fact that on the banner of the AIIM home page it declares:
The Global Community of Information Professionals
More like the Global Community of Information Vendors. There are a lot of vendors attending the AIIM conference and most are on the speaking schedule. Very few of them are what I would call “cutting edge” in the industry. The leaders of the move to the cloud are missing. This is also present in the Board of Directors where over 40% of the board are from software vendors.
Vendors are the last people they should be talking to if they want to know what the information professional in the field is trying to get done. I know this because I’ve fought with vendors about product features for decades now in order to get them to understand what people actually need to do their job.
AIIM didn’t solve their problems when the CIP was restored. AIIM is disconnected from the information practitioners and is seemingly unaware about what they can do to help. As an association they should be serving their members. The only members they seem to serve consistently are the vendors.
The IGI, the Think Tank
Not going to go into much detail on the Information Governance Initiative because they seem focused and it is unclear how broadly they plan to expand their scope. They are like a think-tank which is pretty cool. They just don’t seem like they are aiming to be an association for the massive amounts of people out here.
The IC, the New Kids on the Block
When the Information Coalition launched I was very interested. While they didn’t have a lot of content yet compared to the others, they have a group of smart people putting things together. I was intrigued and strongly considered joining. Then I saw their pricing.
Joining the IC is not cheap even if you take advantage of one of their discounts. For that price they are going to have to really deliver. The Peer Groups are promising from a value perspective but time will tell if those work. Lots of promise, lots of risk.
So Now What?
In reality it comes down to AIIM or the IC. AIIM has brand recognition that extends beyond the community. Everyone who has ever dabbled in the space knows who AIIM is. There is a large member population that is hungry for a better association that can offer them value beyond their first few years.
In many ways, AIIM is my home. They have been part of my career for a long time and they have a lot they can do to help the information professional. I very much want them to succeed because it would be better for my career and the career of so many friends and colleagues. AIIM just needs to start listening to the professionals, and not just when everyone is angry enough to rise up to protest. I’ll likely write more about what AIIM can do later.
As for the IC, they have a solid goal and a solid direction. They are also new. Can they continue to deliver after their successes of the past? Will it be worth the price of admission? There is a lot to figure out. Right now I’m playing a wait-and-see game while rooting for them. We need them to disrupt the current information association space.
One thing is clear; there is a need for an effective association in this industry. In today’s tight association world, there is also not enough member support to keep four of them going. There are going to be a few losers here.
The winner will be the one who listens, builds a true sense of community for its members, and delivers on their promises.
We need one of them to lead and represent us because our industry is simply too chaotic.