A presenter’s view of the AIIM European Executive Leadership Summit

The Knightsbridge Hotel was a stunning venue for AIIM’s 7th European Executive Leadership Council Summit and it proved a highly informative day amongst a particularly engaged audience.

AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) is the global community of information professionals. The leadership meet ups in the US and Europe are one of the most respected on the circuit, solving four major pain points for its members:

  1. How do we manage the risk of growing volumes of content?
  2. How do we automate our content-intensive business processes?
  3. How do we use content to better engage and collaborate?
  4. How do we gain business insight from all of this information?

Interact was invited onto a panel alongside Google and Workshare to discuss the impact and innvoations around file, sync and share on business process and collaboration. This topic generated extra interest (and a touch of notoriety) after a particularly lively and heated equivalent at a previous AIIM Summit in America, it’s always good to see people being passionate!

If you were there you will still be working through reams of notes but given there was not a Twitter #tag to share some amazing ideas throughout the day, I wanted to ensure you didn’t miss out.

AIIM Trendscape : Collaborative Workspaces – John Mancini

The Summit opened with the views of John Mancini, President of AIIM. John is a well known face on the circuit, factual with a great injection of personal insight, if you haven’t seen him speak yet, put it on your list. John set the tone discussing the AIIM trendscape, what do we see happening in the near-future (next two years) as well as the future (two years and beyond). How can we see the rise of companies such as Uber and Airbnb indicating the threat of over-organisation and over-management? What impact would this have on future ways of working? John set the tone for the day by citing the shift from hierarchy to wirearchy, a topic other speakers also focussed upon throughout.

What is Hierarchy versus Wirearchy?

Jon Husband coined the phrase wirearchy to explain a shift from hierarchical decision making to a more peerless system based upon knowledge needs, with people connecting as needed to ask and solve. Leaders’ roles have evolved from dictators to shepherds, facilitating and encouraging collaboration. Although facilitated by technology, this is more about the ways we work rather than what we use to make that work happen.

B2C / B2B or B4C / B4B?

John finished by discussing a mindset shift to B4C / B4B. He suggests that as organisations, we should exist to make our customers successful. This certainly has great intentions and will win hearts, but whether we can win minds in such a ROI driven workplace will remain to be seen.

Framing Thoughts on Collaborative Workspaces – Thornton May

Thornton May is a futurist, which was a new title new to me.

Thorton has an insanely high level of energy and even with that description I am doing him a disservice. For those who witnessed the incredible Eddie Obeng at Interaction last year, it was that level of enthusiasm! Thornton drove the day forwards in interludes between speakers

Thornton, as is the want of a futurist, asked the audience to picture what changes we would see with the on-going technological change in our lives. What would a commute look like? Would it even exist with a more mobile workforce? From driver-less cars to the death of the office, the outcomes raised by attendees were certainly not impossible.

From the Field Perspective at UPS – Divya Sachdev

As Head of UPS’ Supply Chain IT division, Divya demystified UPS’ approach to big data.

AIIM - UPS driver data

Did you know that every minute their fleet stands idle costs UPS $500K?

How their drivers handheld devices have evolved to make signing and tracking parcels effortless for their drivers?

Maybe you’d heard that they often design routes for drivers taking advantage of the fact you can turn right and go through a red light if the road is clear in the States? I didn’t know any of this.

UPS has brought their internet of things concept into their workforce with phenomenal and instant results. Smart devices enable endless data to be fed back regarding transit, effectiveness and experience.

The need to measure has always been essential to organisations but to take this quantitative data to define service improvement was impressive.

Divya left us with an interesting conundrum – should we see UPS as a trucking company with technology or a technology company with trucks?

If you are at a conference with Divya, definitely take the time to talk to her. With an amazing insight of working with various cultures in a Pan-European environment, there are plenty of lessons to be learned.

From the Field Perspective at Gensler – Philip Tidd

When a Consulting Director at an Architecture firm leaves you questioning everything you thought you knew about the way people work, you know it’s been a great presentation.

Philip questioned the obsession with attendance and believes new measures around output should be the KPIs driving our understanding of performance.

When measuring the usage of an average desk in a working day, it is occupied for less than 40% of the time – time at the desk is clearly no longer a key metric.

AIIM - Average hourly utilization and activity

This instantly makes us rethink how we view the workplace. In the 1970s the focus was upon density – how many people could we fit into a limited amount of space? By the 1990s this had progressed to the open-plan office. No more silos or offices from execs closed away from the front line. Nowadays we are looking at mobility with not just the rise of hot-desking but also multiple companies sharing a space – this is something we have already spearheaded with our New York office and the culture and environment is incredible.

Gensler don’t just create innovative office space, they understand people and how they tick. Top performing organisations see collaboration as critical , marking it as 104% more critical than standard and poor performing organisations. Learning is 80% more critical to top performing organisations and interestingly those top performing businesses spend 16% more time socialising than lesser performing businesses.

We need to be leading a mobile first view when supporting these employees’ lives. Globally, smartphone traffic exceeded laptop traffic in 2013 and is expected to increase thirteenfold in the next five years.

Open spaces lead to greater performance and interestingly many organisations working with Gensler have followed the advice that co-creation is key. Let your employees spec en masse what the office changes should look like, which features should be available and how they should be used. Again, the view that wirearchy is now prominent drives this thinking.

Philip left us with a question too. Where do we work? Is the city rather than our office our real workplace where we work and hang out? With workforces enabled to work anywhere, what role will the office play in the future? Does this account for the relocation of many tech major players back into cities rather than business parks?

File, Sync and Share Panel Discussion – Matt Mullen, Nigel Williams, Iain McDougall and Anthony Foy

The panel opened up the opportunity to quiz vendors on their approach to the challenges of file, sync and share, both within and outside the enterprise.

Matt Mullen, Senior Analyst at 451 Group, led the panel of Google’s Head of Sales, Ian McDougall, Workshare CEO, Anthony Foy, and I, to understand how organisations should be approaching their procurement of new applications and how to ensure value from existing solutions.

During the hour the panel discussed what the greatest concerns should be to potential buyers; security, usability, integration, cost, governance and effort were all prominent.

The conversation then moved to the replacement of legacy apps and data. When is it right to replace and when should organisations look to integrate. It was widely agreed that this had to be treated on a case-by-case basis. What could be parsed? Which data needed to be extracted, transformed and reloaded? What can be integrated? How much effort is involved? What are the risks of simply switching off a data source? These all need to be considered when facing this common business challenge.

Slack and Dropbox are rightly dominating a lot of conversations at the moment. How did we as vendors see the impact of these? The general response was there had to be a decision as to when to integrate some of these features and when to emulate them. This naturally led on to questions around how to understand the capability of your portfolio of applications before buying new ones. At its simplest, the answer is to constantly review your existing capabilities and introduce new tools as part of a strategic roadmap, not just to fix a tactical need as short-term gains often lead to long-term pain.

Finally the panel examined the roles of CIO and CTO in the procurement process. Whist it was common that a line of business (be that department or project) initiated a business case, at C Level it was common to look for the broader use and having a strong understanding of pain points throughout your organisation was critical to this, particularly in organisations when BYOA (bring your own applications) had taken off.

From Collaboration to New Organisational Structure – Lee Bryant

It was time for another Interaction favourite as Lee Bryant took to the stage.

The theme of wirearchy again emerged as Lee struck a superb balance between humour and deep insight. From questioning the effectivess of the typical meetings “is it the practical alternative to work!”, to the hypotheses of Kottor’s five principles, pod structuring, a holacrastic structure and a de-centralised network structure.

Through each of these social approaches there appeared five key trends:

  • A customer centric culture with an outside-in configuration
  • Small teams working in an agile manner using a responsive structure
  • Focus upon tasks to be done, not fixed positions or roles
  • Highly networked workforces driven by data
  • A need to constantly refocus to meet changing markets.

Ultimately the quantified organisation should be a model we all aspire too, with change becoming routine to constantly take advantage of changing markets.

Final Thoughts

After a thoroughly engaging day, the final Q&A uncovered some interesting technical and moral concerns. The most prominent of which questioned whether the on-going drive to do more with less people was really economically viable? Do we as organisations need to have a social conscience to avoid mass unemployment or a base income in this potential future society?

We are all constantly innovating and learning from our employees on how to meet their needs and provide a robust practice to follow. Interaction is seen as the must go to event for Information Managers, Compliance Teams, Human Resources Teams, Internal Communicators and anyone responsible for the success of their organisation’s communication and information management.

Sign up this month and take advantage of a 10% discount on tickets using promo code JULY10. I’ll see you there.