In Focus: Imaging and AIIM Are Inseparable

The buzz from back East was excellent, with reports of a packed show floor and healthy exhibitor numbers.
After attending the annual AIIM show for seven years in a row, I had to miss this year's May 17-19 event in Philadelphia because of an unavoidable family occasion at the opposite end of the continent. The buzz from back East was excellent, with reports of a packed show floor and healthy exhibitor numbers. Questex Media Group, which recently took over the event from Advanstar Communications, reported 21,000 visitors and 350 exhibitors.

Colleagues who attended the event were impressed, and they wanted to know what makes it tick. After all, haven't the ranks of enterprise content management (ECM) vendors consolidated?

First off, I explained, it's not just AIIM; it's AIIM OnDemand, the combination of what were formerly two separate events. Questex bills the AIIM part of AIIM OnDemand as "the largest enterprise content & document management [event]... showcasing the technologies to capture, manage, share and store documents and digital content." Despite the seemingly SOA-minded moniker, the "OnDemand" part is about digital printing rather than Web services, and it's dedicated to "the technologies that create, personalize, manage, print and deliver content."

In a sense, one part of AIIM OnDemand is dedicated to transforming paper-based content into electronically sharable information, while the other part is dedicated to creating more paper-based information--albeit in a more efficient, customized and personalized way. Questex didn't break out attendance or exhibitor figures for the separate camps, but it's easy to figure out that the room-sized machines with giant rolls of paper on one end aren't about ensuring compliance or fast, efficient retrieval of information.

The two communities overlap in that OnDemand's big digital copier/multifunction machine contingent is increasingly interested in "solutions," particularly network-based scanning linked to back-end repositories and workflows. And both AIIM and OnDemand are "imaging" shows with visitor ranks dominated by solutions resellers.

AIIM dropped the formal name "The Association for Information and Image Management" even before it sold its show to Advanstar a few years ago; but make no mistake: Imaging is still at the core of the event. As evidence, five of AIIM E-Doc's 11 "Best of Show" awards related to imaging. Kofax ( captured the Document Imaging category with its Indicius auto document classification product. SWT, since its acquisition by Captiva Software (, claimed the Forms Processing category with its b-Wize Dispatcher product, which combines image classification and data extraction capabilities. And capturing the Workgroup, Mid-Volume and Production Document Scanner Best of Show awards where Xerox/Visioneer (, Fujitsu ( and Panasonic (, respectively.

When Delphi Group declared, "this year's show was largely absent of major product news or industry announcements," they must have excluded imaging hardware. Just about every scanner manufacturer--and plenty of manufacturers of print-oriented "imaging" equipment--made a point of introducing new models at AIIM OnDemand.

Okay, so there weren't a lot of ECM or BPM announcements and debuts, but that stuff is for a few super-VARs and systems integrators. If shows past are any indication, the masses of resellers at AIIM 2005 were there to see mid-tier-oriented solutions and products, not platforms and platitudes aimed at defining the hottest trends. As the most deployed and proven ECM technology, imaging continues to define the AIIM show.


a. Digitial Connection: Comcast CEO: On-Demand Services Set To Take Off

b. TechWeb: AIIM Study: Cost and Compliance Issues Drive ECM

c. AIIM ON DEMAND Announces Results for 2005 Event