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What’s up with AIIM these days?

By Hugh McKellarKMWorld executive editor

The Association for Imaging and Information Management and its conference have been very important for KMWorld—especially in our earlier incarnation as Imaging World, which began about a decade ago and continued until our decision in 1997 to extend our coverage beyond imaging and document management to focus on the much broader and far more robust arena of knowledge management. AIIM is still important to us—in fact, we’ve devoted six pages of this issue to the event.

Interestingly, last year, AIIM decided to do some repositioning of its own, proclaiming itself to be the “Enterprise Content Management Association,” thereby aligning more closely to the knowledge management community. So, when AIIM announced it had sold the conference and expo to Advanstar Communications, our interest was piqued. Not that Advanstar is a stranger to the IT field. It has 92 business magazines and directories, 79 exhibitions and conferences, many Web sites and a host of direct marketing, database and reference products and services. Advanstar addresses such markets as collaboration/e-learning, CRM/call center, digital media, Internet/e-business and telecommunications. But it also targets fashion/apparel, power sports, art, automotive, beauty and travel/hospitality.

So, I asked AIIM President John Mancini and Brian Randall, VP of sales and marketing, just what the deal was all about. Mancini explains, “We were attempting to be a world-class trade show organizer and simultaneously trying to run a membership-based organization. We came to the conclusion that we could better serve the industry by establishing a relationship with a company that runs first-rate events.”

So, as of Jan. 12, when the agreement was formally announced, AIIM’s official capacity became that of an Advanstar partner to help with the show, initially for six years, by organizing the conference side, running the awards program, etc. Although the transition of an event to a new owner a mere seven weeks before the show presents profound organizational, well, let’s call them “opportunities,” Mancini and Randall report that Advanstar fully understands the importance of the relations that exhibitors and attendees have developed with show management. Hence, the AIIM event staff has been reassigned as Advanstar employees to ensure continuity, they say.

With that staff in place, Mancini and Randall are quite comfortable about the success of this year’s show and are downright bullish about the 2003 event, which will combine AIIM with Advanstar’s OnDemand Digital Printing & Publishing Strategy Conference and Expo at New York’s Javits Center on April 7 to 10.

With the workload of producing conferences lifted from AIIM itself, what extra benefits can its members expect? Says Mancini, “Our efforts will center on industry advocacy in all of its forms, including more efforts in the standards arena, discussions in state legislatures and on Capitol Hill of such issues as records management, electronic signatures and the like. We’ll also focus on market education and further establish ourselves as the repository and authority for all the information that exists about the industry to help users make the right technology decisions.”

So, from its early imaging beginnings, AIIM has made considerable course adjustments. New ownership of a trade show and the attendant possibility for cultural change brings with it unique “challenges.” In the case of AIIM and Advanstar, let’s hope the moves are executed so very thoughtfully for our constituency, because if so, they could significantly benefit and strengthen the much broader KM community as a whole

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