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Information Management 10 years on…

December 7, 2009

I remember first attending the Information Management/Online Information Show, or a variation of it, at London’s Olympia back in the 90s. I haven’t attended for a few years but enjoyed my visit last week for some very selfish reasons.  For a start, it was very quiet – a welcome surprise for a deafie like me – and lack of footfall in the aisles meant I had some useful conversations and demos with a number of interesting exhibitors. The seminar theatres were quite small so I was thankful for good acoustics and being able to chat with some of the presenters easily.

I have a soft-spot for this show and I like the way it attempts to bring together age-old disciplines of information management with the latest online buzz – usually with some intelligent and well reasoned views of the latter. I’m sure there are some wise and seasoned information practitioners who look on with despair at the hype cycles that have passed by over the last 10 years or so and soldier on regardless until some common sense returns to the proceedings.

Unsurprisingly, social media was on the agenda in a number of the seminar theatres. I very much enjoyed a ‘pitfalls’ presentation by Sam Marshall from Clearbox Consulting a guy who has clearly ‘been there and done it’ in his roles with Unilever. You can see Sam’s presentations here and his list of very useful and common sense ‘pitfalls’ are…

1. Be ready to give up control
2. The price of entry is nearly zero for everyone
3. Be ready to follow up
4. If there’s a backlash, join the conversation
5. Keep looking out for a groundswell
6. Don’t feel you have to own the community
7. Be authentic
8. Match the approach to the channel
9. Don’t use social media to duck legislation
10. Tidy up

His examples from Dove illustrated very well that people hate hypocrisy and ‘social media’ is a great way of the people letting hypocritical companies know. The examples are also great lessons for brand managers in that very worthy comments about the downsides of the beauty industry look highly hypocritical from a massive FMCG organisation who benefits greatly from such an industry and who also has some responsibilities for heavy damage to the environment.

I also enjoyed Theresa Regli’s common sense keynote presentation about ‘Findability in the Web 2.0 World’ and her tour along the Red line of CMS Watch’s Content Technology Vendor Map 2010

With its focus on knowledge management from a librarian’s perspective and the challenges of legal, technical and medical publishing, IMS has a solidity about it. I’ve noticed many vendors in the Online Information side of things coming and going over the last 10 years (probably in direct correlation to the hype cycle) so it remains a useful barometer of the broader information management space and will probably be a lot busier next year when the social media hype dies down ;)

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