Monday, July 25, 2016

There Should be a Law for That

By Brian Kopack

Said almost no one ever.

Well, maybe not a new law – just a more broad application of an existing law – specifically relating to content management.

I read about this last week and it’s stuck with me ever since.

The Brooks Act, a real law currently on the books since the 70’s, makes it illegal for government buyers to use price as any part of the decision process when selecting architects or engineers for federal government projects.

That’s a novel idea.  Buy on value not solely on cost.

Since we are all about ideas at IOS, let’s explore that one.

Buy on value not solely on cost.

Even though we see it as standard practice, we don’t think you can reduce the delivery of great ideas that change the way businesses use information and do work to a lowest-cost-wins-value-be-damned death match.  

Stop it already.  Ask more questions than, “How much does it cost?”  Make the vendor explain what the idea is worth.

In our technology-driven content management world, choosing a partner on price only makes the Purchasing Department happy – and only fleetingly.

Ideas matter.

In content management, same as in engineering (or any other idea based industry), once price is the driver, everything that makes an idea transformative is stripped away – creativity, expertise, vision.  It almost assures the exact opposite – lower quality, an inferior level of service and ultimately, a lower level of customer satisfaction.

Document conversion, content management systems, intelligent records storage, custom development – everything we do – like we do it, creates value.  Lots of value.  So much value, it’s like our badge of honor.  It’s isn’t uncommon to hear that a solution we designed / reengineered returned 3x/5x/10x in relatively short order.

We don’t think what we do can be done any other way.

We might not win in a price war, but we never lose in a value war.  If you can find another partner who can do what we do and can create more value for a lower price, you’ve found the content management unicorn – so hang on.

Creatively designed content management ideas flexibly designed and expertly implemented.

That’s IOS.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Can’t Spell Motivation without Motion

By Brian Kopack


That’s the Icelandic word for remarkable.

Apparently there is some major international soccer tournament going on right now and the team from Iceland is the headline for how well they are playing.  I don’t know anything about soccer, but I guess their success is a really big deal.  A real Cinderella-story – Iceland playing “The World’s Game.”

Aside from the soccer part, the backstory does seem remarkable.  Iceland has about 330,000 people and here it is competing on the world stage against the giants in the world / sport.   If Iceland was a city in Indiana, it would be the 2nd largest in the state.  Additionally, coaching the team is a part-time job.  When the coach isn’t coaching, he’s a dentist.  I doubt the coaches in sports factories in US, Germany, Brazil, or Argentina have day jobs.

That all makes for a really good story, but here is a fact that is truly remarkable. It’s estimated that 99.8% of the Icelandic population watched the team’s last match.  Pretty close to every single person in the country was focused on the exact same thing at exactly the same time.

Think about that for a minute - near-complete participation in a single idea.  Motivation.

Does your business work that way?  How much easier would it be to get things done if everyone was working toward the same goal?

A lot.  Trust me.

At IOS, we have a singular focus and always have – content management.  All day every day our people are motivated to bring innovative ideas to business to help transform the way they do work – to solve business problems with all the components of a healthy information management strategy: document conversion - content management systems - intelligent records storage - custom development.

Expertise, creativity and agility with the motivation to get things moving.

We believe motion is critical.  Motivation begets activity which begets increased motivation to achieve more.

We know slow deployments suffocate great ideas.

Samuel Johnson once wrote, “The chains of habit are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

That’s what you get when low motivation and lack of motion (progress) combine.

We know the work we do isn’t always sexy or easy.  We know that businesses have an endless list of priorities and while managing information is typically on the list, commitment to improving it oftentimes runs high initially, then fades.

Our intention is to deliver great ideas efficiently to capitalize on the momentum of motivation.

Ideas Matter.  Be better.
Thursday, June 2, 2016

Content Management - In 3 Letters

By Brian Kopack

Apparently the people at Scripps are a little solicitous.

That means worried – except harder to spell.

Scripps is the major player in the sport of professional spelling.  I know, I know.  The competition is on ESPN, so it must be a sport – discussion for a different day.

I read an article predicting doom for the future of the National Spelling Bee because the competitors are getting too good.  The contest ended in a tie.  Again.  There have been more ties in the past 3 years than in the previous 90 years of The Bee.  Of all the words in the universe, they couldn’t come up with a few that the 11-13 year olds couldn’t spell.  That’s crazydiculous. (I don’t know if that is a real word but if it is, I am sure that’s how you spell it).

For full-disclosure, I am not a good speller.  And, I normally would not be interested in a spelling bee, but I paid attention this year because a family friend was competing.  She made it a few rounds before misspelling the word: patrilocal.

Watching the competition, it struck me that what makes the spellers so impressive – besides being really, really smart and uber-poised under pressure for as young as they are, is that they are able, in a very short amount of time, to gather clues to arrive at the word’s proper spelling – to connect everything.

Gathering information efficiently and then connecting it to develop a solution to a problem - huh.  Why does that feel so familiar?

That’s content management – seeing a bigger picture for the connected organization through a more effective use of information.

That’s IOS. {Note: very easy to spell so probably not in next year’s competition}

The spellers use word origin, part of speech and alternate pronunciations to help them spell the word.
IOS Professional Services takes information from an organization – forms, documents, contracts, charts, transcripts, receipts, invoices and links departments across that organization - Accounts Payable, Customer Service, Credit & Collections, HR, R&D and Quality Assurance through the magic of process re-engineering and workflow automation.

They understand the relationship between better use of information and improved performance. They understand the power of connection.

The ability to gather and assemble information to create is a special talent.  To do that in real-time to change the way work gets done is extraordinary.

That’s I-O-S.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Snow White and Speed Writing

By John Trimble

The new IOS video uses whiteboard animation, a form or technique that you cannot not watch. You might remember an older UPS commercial where a hand is diagramming on an easel in hyper speed. I think the reason it is so addictive to the eye is that we all intrinsically love to see progress sped up.

Even today kids love to see Disney’s animated Snow White quickly clean up the messy Dwarves’ house with the help of woodland creatures. In the film "Limitless" Bradley Cooper transforms his pig sty of an apartment into something presentable, assisted only by sped up time and, oh yeah, a miracle drug. But the message is the same: progress is nice but transformation in sped up time is awesome.

Could you do a time lapse accomplishment film on, say, re-inventing a business process? It’s not the sexiest thing in the world but then again neither is a filthy apartment. I think you could.

You would see a lot of bodies, a lot of cubicles, a lot of paper. You would wonder why they all looked frustrated and why there were so many of them. You would see a lot of shuffling of documents, a lot of e-mails and phone calls about where this or that invoice or sales order is. Occasional heroes and villains would emerge but mostly they would be faceless – trapped in a broken system, with a get me out of here vibe.

Until… the hand on the easel transforms them in hyper speed; then you would see filing cabinets and paper stacks disappear, close ups on invoices or sales orders sailing from one workstation to the next, approved and completed. You would notice fewer cubicles, people actually looking happier, commerce occurring.

Speed drawing is not real life but what it shows is. What it depicts is also not the future, it is the present. Companies are doing this every day. Not in hyper time but with our help they are doing it more quickly than you imagine; not even real time but what IOS calls “Fast Time.” Their process improvements are so vivid that you cannot not watch.

That is the movie that IOS makes. For a list of our previous screen credits we are only too happy to share. Talk to us.
Monday, May 2, 2016

We're Listening

By Angela Childs

Why do you do things the way you do?

I bet there are a lot of reasons.

Could be that once upon a time a bad thing happened and the process was designed to prevent it from happening again.  Maybe it was designed to accommodate other systems or processes.  Maybe that’s just how it’s always been done.   Is it the best way?  Is it a modern way?  Does it facilitate sharing of information?  Does it provide real-time access?  Is it easy to look at metrics and respond to issues, take advantage of opportunities, or adapt to changing conditions?

I’ve said before that technology years are like dog years and, baby, we’ve come a long way.  It’s easier and easier to provide real-time access to information, to put what people need to make good decisions right in front of them, to automate, and to accelerate.  If you’re not taking advantage, why not?

Fear of change?  People don’t “fear change”.  What they fear is that they won’t be better off because of it and that’s legitimate.  Projects start but never finish, go over budget, toddle past deadlines and often when they wrap the benefit is far less than expected.  Why do bad projects happen to good people?

I recently had a very frustrating experience with one of our vendors.  We were starting a project and, working to ensure success, had outlined clear objectives for what we needed to accomplish, a roadmap on how to accomplish each one, and had identified areas for which we were looking for advice.  This is what we do for a living after all so we had a plan.  We had done our homework and we made sure everyone had the details well in advance of the first meeting.  We were set to hit the ground running.

Except we didn’t.  You saw this coming.  It was like we were starting from zero.  They weren’t prepared. Super…  We shook it off and laid it all out during the meeting, we had everything detailed after all so we were ready and we just took them through it.  They asked questions, we had answers.  We stressed what factors were key to this being successful for us, what we were concerned about, and what we needed from them to round out the plan.  Back on track.

Except we weren’t.  Follow-up meeting and we’re starting all over.  I couldn’t figure it out.  This was important to us.  We put in the time to make sure we got it right and still we weren’t making progress.  We were going to have to drag this vendor along with us.  It was infuriating and I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what I found so frustrating.   That is until, while doing a testimonial video with us, one of our clients said that working with IOS they felt like they were heard and that we were prepared to do business with them in the way they needed.  They could ask for advice and the suggestions they got back were sound and worked for them.

It’s like it all clicked for me.  They felt like they were heard and that we were working with them. I didn’t believe our vendor was listening which translated to “we don’t care about this as much as you do” and I definitely didn’t feel like they were working with us.  We weren’t a team.

We completed the project but we had to roll that boulder all the way up the hill.  We stuck with it because they’re good at what they do and we decided if we just made up for what was lacking we could get what we needed.  It ended up being successful but it was way harder than it should have been and if we hadn’t made sure we added time and resources to fill in for the shortcomings, it would have failed.

That experience is how projects get a bad name but they don’t have to.  If you have a solid plan and everyone’s in, it can be transformative.  Want to see what it looks like when it goes right?  Take a look.

Our people, our expertise, our ideas…working with you to challenge the status quo.

That’s IOS.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Good Plan Comes Together

By Brian Kopack

I love it when that happens.

Our new video is ready.  Take a look...I'll wait...

We are excited about the video.  We are proud of the story.

The story is about Fike Corporation.  They had a plan – utilize technology to better manage its information internally and improve how it interacts with its customers.  In their own words, they explain how they achieved their goal with IOS’ help and what it means going forward.

Fike understood they were changing how they work today and how they will work in the future.  They believed in their idea.  They trusted IOS to help create a meaningful experience.

That’s what made the Fike / IOS partnership successful.

Our signature competencies – expertise, creativity and agility on full display to support Fike’s vision - to help create something that will provide lasting value.

It’s what we mean when we say, “It’s the idea that matters.”

Ideas aren’t commodities.  They are gateways to new futures and stronger relationships.  They create opportunities and unlock potential.

I’ve written previously that content management like we do it at IOS isn’t about products, or big names, or fancy propaganda, or highly-choreographed, canned demonstrations.

It is about great people - great process - great ideas – and trust.

That’s IOS – just watch.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ask, Reflect, Act, Repeat

By Brian Kopack

Are you better off today than you were {fill in the blank} years ago?

If you haven’t heard that recently, just wait.  It won’t be long.  It feels like it is all-election-all-the-time these days and that is a standard in political rhetoric.

Forget politics for now.  Ask yourself the same question about your business and how it manages its information.

It’s an important question.  It’s totally relatable.  It’s always relevant.

Following up on our last post, when it comes to deciding to implement a new content management system or to improve on an existing system, we find most businesses simply do nothing.

That would probably make their answer “no”.

It’s surprising to us.  We’ve seen how better information management is transformational.  If we hadn’t been involved in so many ambitious, pioneering projects that reshaped the processes of our clients, we’d be content with the status quo too – but we have, so we’re not.

For whatever reason, our biggest competitor is the status quo.  Always has been – probably always will be.  Problem is: When has the status quo ever been entrepreneurial?  The next time will be the first.

The evolution of technology in content management has accelerated the pace at which businesses must adapt to change.  And, by change I mean getting the right information to the right people at the right time to make better decisions.  Status quo used to enable business through stability.  Today the status quo is an obstacle to progress.

That’s why “that” question is always relevant for businesses. Businesses run on information.  The smarter businesses are about managing it, the more confidently they’ll be able to move into the future.

Still, we talk to a lot of businesses that absolutely believe that managing their information more effectively is critical to their success – and then do nothing.

Asking that question forces some honest reflection.  Businesses would have to ask themselves:
If we could time travel back, would we act differently?

How much time, energy, and money did we waste compensating for ineffective and inefficient content management?

Should we have tried harder to get consensus from upper management?

Did those old systems that would have been difficult to convert get any easier to manage?

Did those other projects that were higher priority create the expected value? Did they even got done?

That about covers all of the procrastination excuses.

For businesses that choose the status quo, at its core, that question is about evaluating experience against ideas.  Did / will the “what” justify the “why”?

We see it differently.  At IOS, we think the question should be is the idea bold enough, inventive enough, flexible enough to inspire action?  Does the idea trump the procrastination excuses?  Does the “why” make the “what” worthwhile?

At IOS, we believe it’s the idea that matters.  Always has.  Always will.