Friday, January 20, 2017

Warning: Ignore at Your Own Risk

By Brian Kopack


So you are cruising down the highway and the check engine light pops on.

Panic.

Thoughts run through your head – most of them bad – about what to do next and how much it is going to cost.

More panic. You start preparing for the worst.

You get someone to diagnose the problem. It isn’t catastrophic.

Relief.

Since it isn’t major, the urgency to act is gone. The problem hasn’t gone away, it just hasn’t risen to the level of a crisis. You decide you can live with “not right” for a while. Maybe, a long while.

We are seeing that same scenario play out in our little piece of the content management universe. When the warning light activates in business – and it is a major problem, companies spring into action and call us for help. In a crisis, access to information is vital and that access has to be instantaneous. Audits, product recalls, lawsuits or broken water pipes that damage files all fit into the catastrophic-fix-right-now-category.

Who better to call? Our experience and agility allow us to hit the scene quickly to start on the corrective action plan.

It’s always good to have someone to call when you need expert help quickly.

What about the other, less urgent problems? Those are a totally different process.

A dependency on paper. Manual processes. People-centric operations. We are seeing more and more businesses dealing with the chronically “not right”. There’s no triggering event to force action so businesses limp along with the status quo knowing they will get around to a fix someday.

The arc of these discussions follows a predictable path: problem identification, a series of discussions, demonstrations and prototyping, a solution proposal, agreement and then….delay. No resolution, just delay. The problem is still out there, and it probably gets worse – just not bad enough to actually do anything. The status quo used to enable business through stability. Today the status quo is an obstacle to progress.

In a world that’s becoming more digital every day, business needs to approach content management as a “need to have” instead of a “nice to have” concept. The evolution of technology in content management has accelerated the pace at which businesses must adapt to change.

Disruption doesn’t always happen gradually. There might not always be a warning sign. Sometimes circumstances force change immediately. The worst time to discover you have an information management deficiency is in a crisis.

From intelligent records storage to expert document conversion to proven content management systems to transformative professional services, our focus is on providing ideas with an inspired user-experience built for tomorrow’s challenges - because that what’s ultimately important. A constant focus on continuous improvement – not just preventative maintenance.

That’s IOS.
Monday, December 5, 2016

Step It Up

By Brian Kopack


The Thanksgiving holiday is all about tradition.  Everyone seems to have their own little twist on celebrating.

On a national level, “the” Thanksgiving staple is the Macy’s Parade.

Like every other year, there they were at the start.  Probably the most recognizable performers at the most recognizable event.  Right at the front.  Exactly where they should be.

A tradition within a tradition - The Rockettes.

You recognize the costumes. You know the act.  Still, if you’re like me, you probably stop and watch every time.  The performance is captivating.

More than anything, it’s the synchronization that is the marvel.  Total fluidity.  Each dancer doing precisely the right thing at precisely the right time.  Almost no wasted effort.  Free to do what they do best.

That’s a good lesson for any business.

Businesses work better when everything is in synch.  Communication improves.  Decision making is streamlined.  Productivity increases.

And the creative spark that keeps everything in step is of course...information.

If businesses can capture it, analyze it and distribute it efficiently, the chaotic becomes organized - the complex becomes simple.

That’s exactly what a well-designed content management system does – makes the complex – simple.
In today’s information exchange world that means unleashing the power of your collaborative workforce to do more actual work faster with document management, workflow, and the elimination of redundant tasks through business process improvement and re-engineering. It means having information readily available, in a format that is understandable and relevant that allows you better control of your time and effort.


Information management can’t compare with the pizazz of the Rockettes.  Very few things can. But, for businesses that understand the direct correlation between effective data management and profitability and effectively implement it as part of their strategy - they glimmer just as brightly and impress with every step.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Could This Be The Year?

By Brian Kopack


For the love of everything Harry Caray, this might be the year the Cubs finally win the World Series.  Cubs’ fans have been waiting for this moment for a long time – since 1908.  A little internet research tells me there are probably 350 people walking planet Earth who were alive to see the last Cubs’ championship. Note: None of them actually saw it because TV hadn’t been invented yet.  Everyone else has literally waited their entire life for the Cubs to finally win.

That’s crazy.

Cubs’ fans are nothing if not patient.  Patient and focused.

Patience used to be a virtue.  Not anymore.

Most of us are bad at waiting.  Most of us expect everything immediately.  Most of us have had technology recalibrate our expectations personally and professionally. Right here.  Right now-even for things we really don’t need.  We don’t appreciate delays.

We demand change for ourselves, but we resist change of ourselves.

That explains one of the great mysteries in business. Why is the idea of content management so easy to embrace, but the decision to start the process of automation is so difficult?  The concept is easy to grasp and the benefits for inarguable.  Actually committing to embracing the challenge and doing the work to make that happen takes forever.  Not exactly 108 years, but it probably feels that way.

We demand change for ourselves.  We resist change of ourselves.

Not all businesses are guilty.  Some are proactive in their approach to integrating technology into managing their information and processes.  Others are more patient--Cubs fan-like patient.  Their approach is more “Wait until next year,” except next year never comes. Businesses engage in a perpetual slow-dance of research, analysis, negotiation and deferral.

That’s a risky strategy for businesses that need to stay relevant.

Businesses that haven’t adopted a comprehensive content management strategy in most cases are very purposeful and very intentional.  They are motivated to improve.  They understand how being in control of their information allows them to serve both their employees and customers better and be more responsive in the marketplace.  They see the bigger picture of using the power of technology to transform the way they do business - to access, process and integrate information more efficiently – to get the right information to the right people at the right time to make decisions.

So, what’s missing?  What’s keeping them in the perpetual state of stuckness?

Focus – or lack thereof.

Change is never easy.  Change away from the status quo is uncomfortable.  Change to the brave new world is scary.  Uncertainty breeds hesitation – tests our focus.  In business, when it comes to adopting new technologies or automating ancient processes, it takes a special kind of focus.

IOS focus.

It’s all we do.  And, because it’s all we do, we have a special understanding of the single, most overlooked aspect of the change process.  Change is about of relationships.  Creating them and maintaining them.

To dream change, to create change, to implement change - that all takes people working together.  It’s why great software or great ideas need the special touch to get the project from concept to reality.  It’s how the, “It’s the idea that matters” manifests itself in the work we do. Creatively designed content management ideas flexibly designed and expertly implemented.

With a great team and a great plan, anything is possible.

That’s IOS.
Monday, October 10, 2016

Using a contract management solution to keep the drinks flowing

By Danielle Simer, Hyland Software, Inc.

“Hi. It’s been a long day. I’d love a beer.”

“Sorry.”

“How about a vodka on the rocks?”

“Nope.”

“Glass of red wine?”

“Apologies.”

Manage your contracts instead of letting them manage you.

Ah, contract management. The right solution manages them for you, instead of the other way around. Because let’s be honest – you’re busy. We’re all busy. Who has time to look through stacks of invoices to figure out what’s due when, with who, and for how much?

No one has that time. That’s why I wrote this blog post. Because I want to help you reach your full potential. And the best way to do that is by taking control of your contract management process.

For example, late last week, a major airline had to deal with a customer issue because either it – or one of its vendors – didn’t effectively manage a contract renewal. So the airline’s airport clubs could not serve drinks.

If you value certain types of customers enough to offer them free drinks, you can bet those customers have grown accustomed to the service. Especially if they’re paying a $500 annual fee for the privilege. It’s in your best interest to make sure you don’t have to tell them “no.”

Especially when your competitors are saying “yes.”

An optimized back office generates ROI

Investing on the front-end to gain market share is great. But just as important, you need to proactively manage the back-end processes that keep things moving. Otherwise, you won’t generate any return on investment.

If you’re using a limited contract management solution, you can still miss contract deadlines. It happens. Making matters even murkier, your organization might still be relying on paper.

How many times, in how many different situations, have you heard someone say, “The paperwork wasn’t completed.”?

And how many times have you thought, “We’re approaching the third decade of the 21st Century and you’re still managing important contracts with paper?”

A contract management system in action

A great example of how to use contract management software to effectively manage contracts, renewals and vendor relationships is the University of Northern Colorado (UNC).

The college streamlined its entire contract lifecycle, from request to contract execution and beyond. The solution – which leverages the case management, process automation and enterprise content management capabilities of a true enterprise information platform – provides the university with the transparency and control it previously lacked.

Now, UNC proactively manages critical contract expirations. Automatic notifications and calendar views of key contract dates prompt staff to take action and make timely decisions on contractual relationships.

“I can now finish a contract from start to finish in as little as 10 minutes – and we’ve been able to eliminate the vast majority of paper from our contracting process,” said Cristal Swain, assistant legal counsel and chief procurement officer at UNC.

You can be proactive and empower your organization and do things like negotiate new terms or early-payment discounts while decreasing risks and saving money on storage and shipping. Or you can continue to rely on outdated solutions.

The choice is yours. Be forewarned: One might cause you to drink.

But only if you renewed the contract.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Creativity in the Air

By Brian Kopack

Still dealing with an Olympic hangover.

For a couple of weeks it was all-Olympics-all-the-time.  I was totally ok with that.

I love watching competition – especially Olympic competition.

Even for events that I only pay attention to a few days every four years, like Trampoline, I can’t not watch.  Note: If you haven’t seen competitive trampolining, what’s the matter with you?  I can explain it, but you really should see it for yourself.  It’s must see programming.

I think it would be the official sport of IOS.

Here’s why.  Same blueprint for success.

Trampoline and content management are both all about innovation and testing boundaries.

In trampolining, there is the jump and then there is what happens in the air – the magic.  What happens in the air is equal parts expertise and creativity and agility.  Not just anyone can do it.

In content management there is software and there is everything that happens during its configuration and implementation and integration that combine to create a competitive advantage, again equal parts expertise and creativity and agility – IOS’ special magic.  It takes a special group to pull all of that off.

The dilemma is businesses think their issues can be solved with just software – the jump.  They can’t.  What goes up always come back down.  The best software poorly implemented gets them nowhere – except back where they started.

Our approach has always been different.  Deliver ideas for today’s information management problems, personally and professionally, that prepare our customers to meet the challenges of the future confidently.

The information requirements of business today are constantly expanding.  As a result, the expectations for companies like IOS are high.  And, the margin for error is slim.
That’s where we excel.

There is a part in our epically created video featuring Fike Corporation where Fike explains that people and ideas and expertise make the difference – specifically IOS people and IOS ideas and IOS expertise.  Watch it here.

We understand that in any creativity-based activity, trampolining or content management, there really isn’t a finish line.  Innovation never stops.  There will always be something new, better, more impressive.  To be successful, you have to accept that and embrace the mindset that if you aren’t creating, if you aren’t testing the limits of what’s possible, you aren’t really learning, you aren’t growing.

Content management like we do it at IOS is dynamic because so are the needs of business.

I can explain it, but you really should experience it for yourself.
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

Merkilegt

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.