Change is the constant in information management industry

The information management industry has a tidal wave of changes to deal with as Millennials push new ways of managing and sharing data through cloud and new collaboration tools.

Much has changed since AIIM was founded in 1943 and the information management industry is working to embrace those changes by managing information through big data, cloud, mobile, and social platforms.

With that, the theme at this year's AIIM conference, both official and unofficial, was digital disruption. This applies to the changing workplace, the evolving mindset of how to solve the decades old enterprise content management (ECM) problem, and the information management industry itself. Everywhere you look, change is not only happening, it is inevitable.

A new world of work

Whether it involves our evolving workplace or weaving our work into how we live, things are changing rapidly. While the information management industry has talked about distributed workforces and advanced collaboration tools for years, there is one factor finally making it a reality: Millennials.

I am not a big fan of saying that this new wave of workers entering the workforce is going to change everything. I also do not believe that only they can effectively use the latest generation of collaboration tools. As a proud member of Generation X, I view much of what they want as the same things I wanted when I entered the workforce. Over time I had to learn to adjust and push for slow, steady change.

Erik Qualman, a "digital influencer" and author of Socialnomics, changed that perception -- or to be precise, the demographics did. At the conference, he shared that the Millennials are the largest group in the workforce today. They will make up over half of the workforce by 2020. That is a lot of people pushing for new ways to work.

While the information management industry has talked about distributed workforces and advanced collaboration tools for years, there is one factor finally making it a reality: Millennials.

One of the largest hurdles we have faced in rolling out collaboration to the masses has been teaching employees a new way to work. The tools provide different avenues of productivity, ones that work even when an office is shuttered or inaccessible. Many have taken to these tools but many have not as habits are hard to break in people of all ages.

Millennials have been using similar tools for most of their lives. They use them daily today for their personal lives. They don't have to adjust. They are ready. There may be different tools in the office but those tools are similar to the ones that they use in their personal lives. Sure, there will be some indoctrination about the need for some discipline in the information management industry, but usage is going to be the default.

The cloud is a reality

Cloud is here and in use by loads of companies, but the simple fact remains that many organizations are still standing still. On-premises systems get older every day, requiring more updates to stay healthy, and IT doesn't always put those systems first.

Charley Barth, global director of ECM at Cummins Inc., captured this well in his presentation at AIIM and in his interview with SearchContent Management. Cummins is establishing an ECM program and moving data to the cloud as part of that strategy.

While Cummins isn't ready to move everything to the cloud, the company is using a hybrid cloud approach, retaining only 20% of its information on premises. Over time that will change but given the volume of content they have to move, cutting the size of the initial job by 20% isn't a bad thing.

This story was common. It's assumed within most organizations that their next ECM iteration will be in the cloud. Cloud is now just part of the toolbox.

Change is also afoot at AIIM; this was John Mancini's last conference as president. There will be a new president at next year's AIIM in Orlando and by then, the information management industry will probably look different. Another wave of Millennials will have entered the workforce and another wave of boomers will have retired.

Tapping that new energy will be critical not only for AIIM as an association but also for members looking to understand the new ways of working.

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