I’ve written this post for two important reasons: 1) it’s a favour for a very dear friend of mine and; 2) this may help protect you and your loved ones.
Just before Christmas (2016) I was having a chat with an old friend, and the topic of a product that she markets came up. She’s known me long enough to know that I am somewhat sceptical when it comes to claims about everything under the sun causing cancer, rendering one sterile, or otherwise adversely affecting one’s health. That said, I’ve gone through some pretty tumultuous stuff, personally and professionally, over the last eighteen months or so. I’ve learned to be a bit more open-minded and accepting about a great many things, including health & wellness related matters.
I took a look at the product that she’s marketing, and at the science behind it. Unfortunately, the science isn’t conclusive one way or the other, as to whether or not cell phones cause cancer. Cell phone radiation causes cancer – I’m sure each of us has heard or read this at least once since whenever someone started saying it (has to be twenty years or more ago, it seems). Whatever. I still hold my mobile to my head for calls. When I use the speaker or a headset it’s generally to keep my hands free for other things (like driving – which is perhaps a greater phone related health risk) rather than out of concern for my health. I still carry my phone in my pants, in close proximity to my man parts (I’m done having kids so it’s not a big deal).
But what if there actually are health risks from cell phone radiation, electro-magnetic frequency (EMF), electro-magnetic radiation (EMR), and whatever else is emanating from our phones? I’m not going to try and convince you one way or the other. How can I when I’m not convinced? I’ll simply point you to a couple places for additional information and you can make up your own minds.
Lif3 Canada – this is the product / company my friend is doing the marketing for. Tons of info and, obviously, an easy way to buy the product.
I’ll think about this whole thing some more, and debate whether or not to buy one of those chip things for my daughter’s phone. I’ll also be very interested to see what comes out of continued research on this topic. Not to sound too alarmist, but there was a time when smoking was okay, drinking during pregnancy was fine, and seatbelts were optional.
Last week I wrote that I’m starting to focus on a new market for my services; for a number of reasons I’ve decided to have a go at landing clients from the craft beer industry in Western Canada. Something I didn’t mention in last week’s post is that the craft beer scene in Alberta is booming. Recent rule changes and “incentives” have combined to make it easier and more feasible to start a small brewery, so plenty of small breweries are getting started. This has me excited for a few reasons:
- more breweries = more craft beers to try;
- more Alberta breweries = more Alberta jobs;
- a booming craft beer industry = better chances of me succeeding.
In fact, I’m so excited I started a semi-serious, but mostly not, beer related blog.
Anyways, on to the point of this post …
All brewers, regardless of size, pretty much have to comply with the same governmental regulations, do the same types of activities and quality checks, maintain equipment, clean equipment, be safe, etc. What really changes are the ability and will of the brewers to invest in IT tools and services to make these things happen in an efficient, cost effective manner. Many of the brewers I’ve spoken to are using spreadsheets, whiteboards, and loose-leaf paper to get stuff done. Even those that are using some combination of brewery management and accounting software are struggling to stay ahead of things. So I’m thinking that they’d be all over this content / information / records management thing (I didn’t really think that). It turns out that those who are interested are interested in solving business problems. Go figure.
Like Every. Other. Client. I. Have. Spoken. To. they don’t care what something is called or what tool is used as long as problems are getting solved, issues are being addressed, and opportunities aren’t wasted. And like every other industry sector I’ve worked with, the size of the organization doesn’t dictate what the requirements are.
Late the week before last week I met with the CEO and the Controller of a craft brewery. We chatted a bit about beer, the beer industry, what their goals / vision are, what I could do for them, and what their challenges are. Surprisingly, they didn’t say “we have challenges managing content.” It turns out that their most pressing priority is having the information they need to make the decisions they need to make to achieve their vision. Sound familiar?
I’m willing to bet that as I talk to more and more brewers I’ll be hearing the same things I’ve been hearing for the majority of my career. Regardless of industry or geography, for-profit businesses have challenges with making decisions, being efficient, being competitive, and being profitable. Good information and effective automation can a go a long way to help companies meet these challenges, regardless of size, industry, or geography. Information is a strategic corporate asset and must be treated accordingly. In today’s environment, automation does not necessarily mean capital investments in infrastructure, expensive software licences, and spinning up a large IT department. We’re in a time and place, thanks to cloud technologies, where smaller organizations can have the type of functionality that used to only be available to large enterprises.
Information Management is a profession, not an industry. Steve Weissman of the Holly Group wrote a pretty good post about IM/IG being a profession rather than an industry last year. Like HR, Accounting, IT, legal, etc., Information Management is here to support the core business; this does not imply subservience. And like the other support functions, there are several types of professionals practicing Information Management.
Don Lueders wrote a post comparing Accountants and Records Managers (one type of IM/IG professional) a couple weeks ago, so I’m going to take what Don and Steve wrote a couple of steps further. I’m also doing it because like money, information is a corporate asset.
As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I believe that IM/IG Professionals are to information what Accountants are to money. And just like there are different types of Accountants, there are different types of IM/IG Professionals.
Accountants, at least in Canada, fall into three broad categories: 1) Strategic; 2) Tactical; 3) Governance/Risk/Compliance. Hmm … IM/IG professionals can be lumped into three broad categories: 1) Strategic; 2) Tactical; 3) Governance/Risk/Compliance.
Need I go on?
Prompted by the twin posts (do some scrolling and read in chronological order) from Jesse “Mr. CIP” Wilkins and the near death of the CIP, I figured I’d lay out a few thoughts … and here’s my post from when I learned of the death of the CIP (a week before its revival).
- I was really pleased with the reaction of folks that hold or intend to hold the credential. Almost as pleased as I was with AIIM’s about-face regarding its death. A passionate, engaged group of stakeholders coupled with an association that listens is a pretty good thing, I think.
- Testing for the CIP needs to be supplemented. The current multiple choice / fill in the blank stuff is okay, but I would really like to see it supplemented with at least one case study type question. A properly crafted case study is a better test of being able to pull the knowledge elements together in a meaningful way. The current test, IMO, can be passed simply by preparing enough and being able to memorize and regurgitate. Yes, I appreciate that this would require a lot more effort and expense to create and then mark. In my head I’m thinking that elements from, and the approach of, the Uniform Evaluation for (formerly) Canadian accountancy students has some merit.
- 1,000+ CIPs in just over four years is a pretty good accomplishment.
- I don’t know how, but the CIP needs to be better marketed to those outside the AIIM community. Are educational institutions a potential avenue to explore, if not already exploring? I dunno. I will, however, jump in and help out if I can. Over the past year or two I’ve noticed (imagined?) a decline in the promotion of the CIP from AIIM. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this was a factor in the plug pulling.
- If the CIP is going to thrive going forward, it’s going to need a concerted effort from AIIM, CIP holders / candidates, and CIP beneficiaries (orgs that use information – all of them!). If the primary short-term focus is on generating revenue via the CIP rather than growing the CIP and its acceptance / importance, the CIP is likely doomed (again, sort of). I do appreciate the rock and hard place this places AIIM in the middle of. If the CIP is to realize its potential we’re all going to have to pitch in and get creative about how that’s going to happen. As far as I’m concerned I think it’s something worth pushing forward with.
Before you read the rest of this post, I’ll ask that you read this post about how and why I finally obtained AIIM’s Certified Information Professional certification.
When AIIM made the “exciting” announcement about the demise of the CIP (read it here) I was a tad irked. Though I had no stake in putting the CIP thing together, I did think that it was the beginning of a really good thing. The CIP was going to be to Information Management Professionals what the PMP is to Project Managers and the CBAP was intended to become to Business Analysts. It ought to have been on the path to being the certification obtained from understanding and being able to apply a body of knowledge about how to manage information so that organizations could perform better and minimize information related risks. Given time to mature, the CIP could have become the standard against which all of us who consider ourselves Information Professionals would be measured.
But, boys and girls, that ain’t gonna happen. AIIM has pulled the plug and the CIP is D-E-A-D, dead. AIIM had their reasons to kill the CIP, which I won’t go into here. What I do want to get into a bit here is the compensation offered by AIIM, for me losing my CIP certification.
Though I haven’t yet received my official “Merry Christmas You’re No Longer a CIP” letter, I do know about it, and I do know that I get to choose one of three AIIM Master Certifications to replace the CIP. I can elect to become and AIIM ECM Master (done it, earned it), ERM Master (done it, earned it) or a BPM Master (haven’t earned it). Of the three master certificates being offered the ECM Master is, in my opinion, the most valuable. It’s not valuable because having ECMm after your name gets you a higher salary or a better job; it’s valuable because of what you need to do to get it. You need to attend a course, write an exam, and write a case study. The exam and case study are for all intents and purposes a regurgitation of the course materials. The attendance with other real life people, however, is the real value and the real learning. The same goes for the ERMm and, I assume, the BPMm.
So AIIM, you wanna give me a XXXm thing for taking away my CIP? Keep it. I don’t want the certification, I don’t need the certification. What I want from obtaining the certification is what I learn from being there and experiencing the process. To be honest, even having the CIP didn’t mean that much to me. The CIP represented the potential future of the Information Professional; that, AIIM, is what you’ve jeopardized.
A few things before I get started:
- This post is not strictly related to Information Management, but I’ve got nowhere else that I post, so, it is what it is;
- This will meander and be disjointed;
- This post was partially inspired by Michael Wekerle (from an exchange we had on twitter – image below) and Jennifer Langston.
It’s December, the last month of the year depending on what calendar you follow. This post is bit of a retrospective of a, for me, less than stellar 2015. That said, I’m justifiably optimistic that 2016 is going to be better.
The tweet exchange pictured above got me to thinking about how I got to where I am professionally. To make a long story short:
- Around 1987 or so I finally decided I wanted to be a chartered accountant;
- Couldn’t afford full time school, so went at night after work;
- My Cal II mark was below the cut-off for year two university by two (2) friggin’ percent;
- I bailed on university and focused on work (IT support at a public accountancy firm);
- Found I liked IT and in 1991 went to one of those tech type schools for a year (one of the firm’s partners warned that there might not be much of a future in IT);
- Went back to work and found I like the business side of IT better than the tech side;
- Went back to university at night (while working and raising my first son);
- Graduated in 1996 with a certificate (bachelor’s w/out the fluff)
- Fast forward to 2007 and I got into all the joy that is ECM (finally found my calling at 43);
- More education, but this time from a variety of sources including professional orgs, peers, industry experts, vendors, … you get the idea;
- Attained some level of respect and credibility in the Information Management space, gotta keep learning to keep it up.
I offer up the above for two reasons: 1) it kinda supports some points made in the twitter exchange, and; 2) it relates to the professional (financial, really) debacle that 2015 was for me.
The economy in Alberta has been horrible since the price of oil has taken a nose dive. I won’t get into details, but it ended up costing me a few projects and a lot of money. Fortunately I was able to get some other pieces of work, but they didn’t come remotely close to making up for the revenue I lost due to cancelled projects. While this work related mess is happening, there’s some pretty significant upheaval starting in my personal life. As is often the case, family finances are a contributing factor.
It was pointed out to me that had I made some different career choices years ago, we may not be in this mess. Sure. However, had I made those choices (get into being a PM or into a technical role – neither of which I have much of an aptitude for or desire to do) I likely would have been fired multiple times, and I certainly would be a miserable bastard coming home from a job I hated.
Whatever … I’m not getting into too many details here – way too personal unless we’re sharing some pints. 2015 didn’t turn out like I’d expected, so I focused on learning and proposing projects that made sense under the current economic conditions. Is someone gonna bite soon? Dunno. I’ll hound them.
2015 pretty much sucked, professionally and personally. There was one exception, of a personal nature, that was unexpected, makes me extremely happy, and for which I am grateful that I recognized and acted upon. Things are looking up, though. Closing out 2015 and starting 2016 look like the corner’s been turned. No guarantees, but I’m optimistic.
Here’s some things that I’ve learned, or re-learned, over the past year. Some of them are things that others have said.
- I have a really good, supportive network of friends, colleagues, and peers;
- Don’t be so tied or dependent on an outcome that you can’t continue if it doesn’t happen;
- If you can’t accept or deal with the consequences, don’t do it;
- Barring a fatality, there’s nothing I can’t or won’t recover from;
- Just get back up and keep pushing;
- It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, despondent, discouraged, whatever for a few minutes but no more;
- You are responsible for you;
- If you’re not willing to be part of the solution, don’t whine to me about the problem;
- Every day, week, month, and year is another chance for your optimism to be justified;
- Whether it’s professionally, personally, or romantically, be smart enough and open enough to recognize the opportunities in front of you. Then act.
Anyways, that’s it. To you and yours, whatever you do or don’t celebrate at this time of year, be healthy, happy, and safe. Not just now, but, you know, the other 11 months of the year as well.
In this CloudPro article, Aaron Levie (Box co-founder and CEO) asks about content management “Why is this one of the only categories of technology that hasn’t actually been approached as a strategic platform for the entire enterprise?” Levie also suggests that organizations view content management systems through a similar lens as they do with ERP and CRM systems. That is, have a single system and manage it as a strategic platform for the enterprise. I both agree and disagree with Levie.
We both believe that content management systems need to be managed as strategic enterprise platforms. And I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to infer of Levie that he would agree with me and others that information be managed as a strategic corporate asset. There might be a contretemps over where (type of system) content to be leveraged as an asset should reside (I don’t care where it is, I just want to leverage it), but I think it would be a minor niggle. I think where there would be more palpable disagreement is over whether or not organizations ought to consolidate content repositories or not. As far as I’m concerned, it depends. (I’m a consultant. What did you expect me to say?) There’s a whole mess of stuff to think about when considering repository consolidation, and this isn’t the post to go through it.
Aaron and I are going to disagree over his points about viewing ERP, CRM, and ECM through the same lens. He says we should, I say we can’t. The issue is one of understanding. If I go into any organization that uses ERP and CRM systems, they know the point and value of those systems. The high level business processes supported by ERP and CRM systems haven’t fundamentally changed in decades. ECM systems are completely different. They are built to support all processes and no processes. I.e.: they’re a blank canvass, a few tubes of paint, and some paint bushes. If you’ve got the right people, rules, and tools you’ll end up with a masterpiece. If not, well, you won’t.
The value proposition and strategy for ECM has to be crafted to the stakeholder. I cannot and will not give the same message to someone from HR as I will to someone in Field Services. I may use the same platform and even the same content, but stakeholder context is going to drive the conversation and implementation. And that’s a huge problem. ECM as a concept is too big and complicated. So stop talking about it. Talk about business opportunities and challenges; talk about transformation and innovation.
So, back to Levie’s comment/question about strategic platforms …
He’s obviously biased and I’m on his side but, been there, done that. In the majority of implementations that I’ve been engaged on, a strategic platform approach is precisely the approach we took. The technology involved didn’t really matter (If you really care, the techs involved included Documentum, Alfresco, Oracle, SharePoint, FileNet, and OpenText). It was all about the mindset and having the right policies, procedures, and people. It also helps if the technology has open API’s and makes integration as simple as possible.
No single theme was worthy of 5 Thoughts this week, so here’s a mixed bag of stuff.
1. Cloud Security still a concern
On September 16th I spoke at an event in Calgary, hosted by Box and Skyhigh Networks (the video and slides, if you’re interested). My presentation was about using cloud to enable innovation, but the discussion that followed focused primarily on security. Specifically, that an org’s data centre is more secure than a cloud provider’s. Uhm, no.
2. AIIM Road Trip – Calgary
On September 22nd I attended the Calgary session of AIIM’s 2015 Road Trip. The theme was the whole going paperless thing. It got me thinking …
Almost every project that I’ve been involved in or heard about that involved getting paper out of processes didn’t go far enough. Sure, they scanned the incoming docs (invoice, application form, cheque, whatever), but then the process reverted to what they used to do with paper. Stop that. When org’s go to the effort to eliminate paper, they also have to get rid of the whole circulation, review, approve steps where possible.
I worked on a project for an auto insurance company a few years ago. They were attempting to remove paper from their claims processing. One of their largest sources of paper was from car rental companies. Their initial approach was to have invoices submitted as email (attachments and body, depending on rental company). It was a good move, but still involved too much human intervention. My advice to them, which they followed, was to talk to the rental companies and get them to send over data batches, to be ingested by my client’s solution. They called, the three rental companies with the largest volumes agreed (hell, it saved them time and money, too), and my client ended up saving USD$250K annually. Development and testing was a total of 2 ½ days.
3. I Wasn’t Expecting That
Back in April I posted this case study about a client of mine. At the time that I submitted the report I had no expectation that my client would do anything with it. After all, during the final presentation the message about “managing information is not a priority for this year” was quite bluntly delivered. As it turns out, a government audit that impacts public finding soon changed some of my client’s priorities.
I’m happy that the client is taking action based on the report I delivered (with Laurence Hart’s help). It’s a shame, but not unexpected, that it took negative findings to get the ball rolling. Oh when will they learn that it’s so much better and cost effective to be proactive about these things?
No, KS, I don’t think I called you “sad and tragic”.
4. Data Residency
During the aforementioned AIIM Road Trip, one of the presenters mentioned something about data residency and how they could point to providers with Canadian presence (mostly small players, is my understanding). The issue I have is that it continues to cave to the FUD. There are very few circumstances under which Canadian organizations must, by law, have data reside in Canadian data centres. Before going and selecting a provider based on FUD and misinterpretation of requirements / regulations, find out what the real facts are and go from there.
5. BoxWorks & Scanners
BoxWorks 2015 is next week and someone needs to build a scanner the automatically shreds the originals, then burns them as they come out.
No single theme was worthy of 5 Thoughts this week, so here’s a mixed bag of stuff.
1. Oil is the new oil
Theo Priestly’s “____ is the new oil” tweet last week (?) got me thinking about the amount of hyperbole and bovine excrement that spews forth from the minds of many technology content marketers. The way some of these people market their products reminds me of ads for products like perfume, luxury holidays, and erectile dysfunction pills (if your irritation lasts more than 4 hours go berate a tech marketer and have a drink). Get real. You’re flogging technology to run businesses. There’s no new oil. It’s the same old stuff just with better ways to collect and use it. Say that.
Uber is interesting to me because I have ties to the taxi industry – I used to drive one. In urban centres the taxi industry needs a huge shakeup, and Uber may be the catalyst. I’m not going to get into all that’s wrong or right with the industry except to say that most cab drivers are hard-working individuals and will be hugely, negatively impacted by Uber if there is no regulation imposed. And don’t blame the drivers for the state of the industry; they have far less control over the state of affairs than you might think.
The City of Edmonton is proposing a bylaw that would let Uber operate legally. I’ve read the proposed bylaw and think it’s pretty reasonable. The linked news article contains links to City of Edmonton resources, including the proposed bylaw.
Another news article (from CTV) reports that a Canadian insurance company is working on products that would allow Uber to satisfy insurance requirements in Canada.
Personally, I think that the taxi industry is long overdue for change. That said, I’m not in favour of Uber or anyone else coming in and disrupting it without any form of regulation and protection (for passengers and drivers).
If I could figure out the revenue model and clean my Shaggin’ Wagon (Dodge Grand Caravan) I’d probably give being an Uber driver a try just to compare to my previous experience.
On September 9, 2015 Apple made some announcements.
4. Where’s the “Enterprise”?
I had a chat this morning with a friend of mine who happens to be the Canadian Public Sector rep for a large ECM vendor. Long story short – almost everyone involved in ECM purchasing and deployment has no clue about what “enterprise’ really means. Most of them figure it’s a technology buy and implementation. And people wonder why ECM’s not living up to its often overblown hype.
I read a (vendor) whitepaper yesterday about the need for enterprise grade file synchronization and sharing solutions. It. Was. Bad.
I’ll give the paper credit for trying to get rid of some of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) related to storing business critical content in cloud repositories, but that’s about the only positive thing I can say. The paper’s about two years late and presents a lot of incorrect information about data sovereignty, especially in connection to the U.S.’s PATRIOT Act and whose information can and cannot be subjected to government snoopery.
Nope, not gonna link or give you any info about the paper. Your heads’d explode. Truly.
Based on the response to my two previous “5 Thoughts” type posts, I’m taking a shot at doing this on a weekly basis. Depending on what strikes me during the week I’ll either post five thoughts on a single theme or, like this week, chuck up a mixed bag. I’d love to get your thoughts / feedback.
- Reading this Financial Times interview with Aaron Levie it struck me that the speed of change to what he and others see as the obvious future is not being helped by procurement processes and buying cycles that haven’t markedly changed in decades.
- I’m working with a partner, responding to an RFP for a new project at an existing client. Their rules state that any capital projects must be in production by the end of the calendar year in order for them to recoup costs the following year. The original RFP deadline was August 14th, the new deadline is September 8th. The scope and in-production cut-off haven’t changed. I’m considering asking them to delay December 31st by two months.
- Based on some of the comments I’ve received on that Innovation-Transformation-Metadata post I wrote last week, too many people are stuck in a 1990’s mental model of managing content. Whatever, we’ll progress whether you like it or not.
- Thinking about wearables, the Internet of Things, and last season’s NHL All Star Game it struck me that putting sensors into players’ helmets to measure impact from falls and checks would be a good thing to help with managing/preventing brain injuries. Probably a good idea for the NFL, too.
- Stop looking for a big bang. Start with small “i” innovation, prove it out, get the big “I” innovation later. Just start.
As most of you know by now, Ashley Madison (“Ashley Madison is the most famous name in infidelity and married dating.” quote from their site) was hacked last month and much of the data the hackers stole was released this week, on the dark web. Like many of you, I’ve been reading bits and pieces of the saga. Anyway, here’s five things that struck me about the whole affair:
- With a 6:1 ratio of men to women, a guy’s chance of “getting some” via AM are slightly less than they were in high school.
- Anyone (private sector, public sector, military, whatever) stupid enough to use a work email address and corporate assets (computer, network) to access AM ought to be dealt with according to corporate acceptable use policies and morals clauses in their employment contracts. It’s akin to using corporate assets to surf porn; just don’t. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that morals clauses belong in employment contracts. We’re all adults and what I do on my own time is none of my employer’s (I don’t actually have one) business, provided it can’t be linked back to an employer and cover them in poop.
- There are a lot of morally superior and judgemental people on the planet. What they’re losing sight of is: 1 – Other people’s lives that don’t affect you are none of your ******* business; 2 – the hack was a criminal act. FULL. STOP.
- If what the hackers allege about AM’s security and not cleaning out data is true, the folks at AM are monumentally, irredeemably, irrefutably stupid and negligent.
- Lawyers and lawsuits – that didn’t take long. Tied with “Holy crap did we all of a sudden get a lot of downloads”, said the folks responsible for the TOR browser.
Apologies for jumping on the bandwagon and adding to the nonsense.