Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

By Brian Kopack

I found $20 running one day last week.

I run for a lot of reasons – it gets me outside, it helps me de-stress, it keeps me young.  A New York Times article last week said it makes me smarter.  Totally hope that’s true.

When I find a little cash every once in a while – that’s pretty good too.  Effort pays off.

Content management is a lot that same way.  Lots of benefits.  You know it works.  You know it makes your business better.  You know you need to actively participate.  You know the rewards are worth the effort.  And, every once in a while, you pick up a little something extra.

Businesses start taking content management seriously to address operational issues: organization, security, collaboration (or lack thereof).  They evolve with their strategy because technological changes are constantly creating opportunities.  Then the continuous improvement mindset takes hold.  Processing efficiency, procedural flexibility and innovative problem solving become the cornerstones of a more vibrant organization.

With that mindset, what started with filing cabinets, calculators and 24-column paper becomes a comprehensive content management strategy - connecting people through technology.  The goal being to spend time not simply doing work, but doing valuable work.  Managing processes and the flow of information in our companies as effectively as possible frees up our schedules from the tasks that steal our time but lack value.

That’s where IOS comes in.  When you believe that the idea matters, like we do, the details fall into place.  Our discovery-driven approach to problem solving supported by our singular focus on content management puts our clients in a position to control the pace and direction of their improvement.

From there, the direction of the content management strategy might include the conversion of data out of a legacy system into a new system or custom software development or the integration of multiple systems or process re-engineering - or all of the above.

That all facilitates sharing information efficiently and automating processes to create two things we are all looking for and can never get enough of: simplicity and time.  The true benefits of any content management system.

Who couldn’t use a little more of that?
Thursday, December 3, 2015

Information Nowhere

By Brian Kopack

Two questions.  Does your content management system support the needs of your employees?  Does your content management system allow your employees to support the needs of your customers?

Normally, we talk about businesses - creating efficiencies and making businesses smarter.  Since business is about ultimately about people, let’s flip the script and look at it from the people angle.

Combine those two questions above into a single question.   No matter the “end-user” – management, departments or customers, what experience do your content management system and your processes provide?

I spent one day last week in information management purgatory.

My mother and I visited the Social Security office and the IRS office in the same day.  Both told us the other office is one we need to talk to for help.  If you thought there would be some sharing of information between government agencies - you’d be wrong.  We had what we thought was an easy question about a simple misunderstanding.  That was true. The problem was that neither government office could pull the information from its system nor explain how we could solve the problem they thought we had.

Gridlock on a personal level.

They sent my mother a letter with the obligatory, “Contact us if you have any questions or need further information”.  We did.  They weren’t prepared to help.

Clearly, the end-user I am most concerned with in this story is me. But, I can tell you with metaphysical certainty, the employees behind the computers who had to (most unsuccessfully) answer my questions about their questions, were as unhappy with the systems they were using and the information to which they had access as I was with the information I was receiving.  Their experience was definitely not great.  Mine was worse.

It would be devastating if any of our clients felt that way about work we had done.

In fairness, I cannot imagine how hard it would be to implement any kind of system for the government.  A million requirements.  A million processes.  Millions of people to train.  I get all of that.  But at the end of the day, the system you rely on has to provide useful information to the people using it, and they have to be confident they can use it to solve problems.

It’s all about service and contribution.

We take the services we provide and the contributions we make to our clients’ businesses very seriously.

Our expertise allows us to provide services our clients couldn’t experience on their own.  Our work has to contribute to making our clients better and in turn, their employees and customers better.  That’s the IOS circle of life.  That’s just the way we think.  From the largest Fortune 500 company to the smallest, privately-held business, we know that when it comes to content management, the end-user experience is critical because technology, no matter how innovative, fails if it doesn’t help people.

The goal always has to be the same: right information to the right people at the right time for the right purpose.

The recipe is always the same: expertise, creativity, agility.

The guiding principle is always the same: It’s the idea that matters.

That’s IOS.
Monday, November 16, 2015

The Future is Now

By Brian Kopack

What’s common now - was revolutionary at its inception.

I was thinking about that idea as I was listening to an interview with one of the founders of ESPN.  Apparently, there was a time in world history when sports was not televised 24 hours per day.  How did people survive?

The man, Bill Rasmussen, said that at the very beginning, the only goal of the network was to secure 8,760 hours of programming (365 days x 24 hours).  That seemed incredibly ambitious thirty-five years ago.  Even if they could find it, they weren’t totally convinced people would pay to watch it.  Cable television at that time didn’t have nearly the household penetration it enjoys today.

Here’s the ridiculous part.

In 2014, ESPN produced almost 50,000 hours of content.  That’s a lot.  And, because of the internet (which, oh yeah, didn’t exist in the early 80’s), ESPN content was viewed for 6.8 billion minutes last year.  That’s really a lot.  113 million hours of sports consumption.  I’d say getting people to watch isn’t a problem.

What’s common now - was revolutionary at its inception.

Remember when microfilm was all the rage and actually scanning and storing an image of a paper document was “cutting edge”?

IOS does.  That was a long time ago.  It goes back even before ESPN.  And, because the effect of technological innovation on content management is so staggering, what we are capable of today is exponentially more impactful – even on the ESPN scale.

Today’s technology and automated processes can do the work of entire departments. That’s right – humanless processes.

What’s common now - was revolutionary at its inception.

The key is recognizing true innovation and the people who can deliver it.

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.

The demands of our clients may change, the expectations don’t. Flexibility in dealing with change. Confidence in the face of confusion.  Innovation that makes work easier.

The on-going challenge for business will be efficiently managing the information explosion.  We like to think of ourselves as catalysts in that evolution.

Today at IOS, we are proud of where we’ve been, but we are more excited about what’s next.  We aren’t creating your father’s content management system.
Thursday, November 5, 2015

IOS - Content Management's 007

By Brian Kopack

It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Granted, we might not have the music-cool stunts-exotic locales-bad guys-damsels in distress-cars-gadgets-save the free world thing going that he has, but aside from all that, we’re practically twins - - if he were a real guy.

Maybe that’s who we will be for Halloween 2016.

I read a funny article about the psychology of the Halloween costume you choose – that your choice reveals your personality.  {Pause} Go ahead.  Stop reading.  Grab your phone, check out all of the photos from the party you went to and let the amateur psychoanalysis begin. {End Pause}.

Back to it.

Who screams “IOS” more than James Bond?

Experience – Creativity – Agility - 007

What makes us Bond-like?  Our approach to problem solving, solution delivery and the end-user – things that sadly are often missing in our industry.

We don’t save the world or escape bad guys by sledding down mountains in a cello case or driving cars under water or repelling down buildings suspended by our watch, but we do approach problems that seem just as daunting, in their own way – with the belief that it’s the idea that matters.

We’ve seen the constant struggle between how businesses deal with change v. how they know should deal with change.  That’s why we believe our experience allows us to lead our clients through our process to uncover where their barriers to success are and how we can use those barriers to create a new, better way.

We know that our work needs to create value – reduce cost, improve efficiency and reduce risk.

We know our ideas have to be flexible enough to expand and evolve as the needs of the organization change – that’s why our development group has one eye on what’s next.

We know our solutions have to be creative because no two customers or processes are the same.  Since managing information across an organization is a high-stakes-constantly changing proposition, our work needs to be exceptional but simple.  That’s how real progress is measured – can you leverage technology and great partners to do more with less effort.

We also know we have to be able to devise and deliver our work in a timely manner.  A great system that never gets implemented isn’t all that great, no matter whose name is on it.

If you’ve learned anything from James Bond over the years, it’s that the decisions you make today becomes your legacy tomorrow. If you’re good, people remember.

Our aim is to have our work be transformative – to be part of the successful legacy of our clients.

That’s how our legend grows – one project at a time.
Monday, October 19, 2015

Porridge and the End User Experience

By John Trimble

According to the Standish Group, what do IT projects that are defined as successful have in common with IT projects that fail? The common link to both successful and failed project is “end users.”

In successful projects the number one determinant factor of success was “user Involvement.” Similarly the number one reason listed for IT ‘fails” was – you guessed it – “lack of user input.”

Is this surprising? Yes and no.

When so many things can go wrong technically in any large IT deployment to have the number one cause of failure being people and not, by the way, the technical team or their skill sets but the actual users one could find that surprising.

But in another way it is not surprising at all.

Information Management systems fall in this category and perhaps the biggest thing IOS has learned in installing over 500 of them is this: the user experience means everything. In fact, when a company invests in a serious content management system what are they really hoping they bought? Great software? Cutting edge technology?

Savvy companies are really hoping they have purchased an end user experience so positive that adoption will happen quickly and without management mandate... that the business process re-invention will be not just accepted but applauded because their people are gleefully embracing a new and better way of working without kicking and screaming because they actually understand it…that change is actually managed….you know, change management?

Companies want to buy that end game and yet still engage in an outdated vetting process to determine which provider is most likely to furnish it.

Possibly the goofiest aspect of the buying process is that most companies ignore the finish line of the user experience – the end game - and focus solely on the false prophesies of RFP’s, different variations of software demo hell and requesting lengthy propaganda proposals where the authors will need to be  paid by the word or platitude.

So much of that is now baked into the techno buying culture that they ignore the one question they should be asking, one we actually love to hear. It would sound like this:

“Hey IOS: About 44% of projects like this are challenged - meaning over budget and over-promised. Roughly 24% are defined as abject failures. SO TELL ME SPECIFICALLY what you do to ensure a successful implementation ensuring a positive end user experience?”

That is a great and honest question.

Our answer?  IOS is small enough to be flexible and creative, to be responsive during design and implementation. IOS is large enough to have redundancies in our technical and software support roles. We are freaking Goldilocks.

This allows us to be able to focus on the end user experience and we work backwards from that. Everything that needs to occur to ensure that outcome is designed and factored including the sharing of what countless other companies have done in similar circumstances with our help.

Porridge anyone?
Friday, October 2, 2015

Satisficer or Maximizer?

By Brian Kopack

Love the concept.  Totally wish I had come up it.

I read about it in a Time magazine article written by Aziz Ansari.

The article was about relationships and it references a Psychology professor’s work that divides people into two groups - people who satisfy and then settle (Satisficers) v people who are always looking to improve (Maximizers).

Business are made of up of people, so it isn’t a wonder that businesses behave similarly.

Closer to home, our experience tells us that the distinction captures how businesses approach their content management challenges – pitch perfectly.

From a content management perspective, whether you are a Satisficer or a Maximizer hinges on two key things: how you see change and your relationship with technology.

For as long as IOS has been in the content management business (and it’s been a long time), our nemesis has always been the Satisficer.  To them, change is hard.  Technology is expensive and unpredictable.  They can tolerate inefficiency.

No business sets out to be a Satisficer.  A strategic delay here, a rationalization there and next thing you know, your systems and processes today look remarkably similar to the way they did in 2008.  You can’t believe it because back in the glory days you were great.  Time passes and it is easier to settle for a workaround or manual process to make your business go than to evolve.  You go a few years without any upgrades.  Now you have an old, costly information management system supported by an army of people working too hard to maintain and compensate for its deficiencies.  The leap into the 21st century seems unthinkable.

Maximizers, on the other hand, know technology is constantly changing the way people work, so to not take advantage of the new waves of advancement doesn’t make sense. The status quo is their kryptonite.  Maximizers see technology as an investment, not a cost.  To them, the cost is in not adopting.  Instead of focusing on limitations, they search for opportunities.  They see complacency as ultimately debilitating.

So here’s the thing, wherever your business is on the spectrum, there is a chance to improve.  That’s good news.  Technology creates opportunity.  Expertise and creativity make opportunities reality.

So here’s another thing, IOS can help no matter which camp you’re in.  That’s better news.  IOS is agile enough to be just as valuable to the Satisficer as to the Maximizer.  In fact, some of our strongest relationships started with a Satisficer customer who transformed themselves into a Maximizer.

That long-arc development is important to IOS because we’ve seen the transitions in the content management world.  We know it’s a process.  We know there will always be new challenges as the information needs of business evolve and technological capabilities expand.

Two other things we know: great, creative ideas never go out of style and experience isn’t a commodity.

Those – we’ve maximized.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Let's Begin at the End

By John Trimble

At IOS we do hundreds of software demonstrations a year. As an information management technology company one would expect that. But the funny thing is I have this growing feeling that a great number of them have minimum value to the prospect, to the audience. Why?

It’s not that we don’t do great demos or don’t understand our products because we do.

It’s not that we don’t have tremendous and widely acclaimed software from great companies to demo because we do.

It’s not that we don’t understand the applications and typical business problems that need solving because we do…we have installed hundreds of document management systems.

The reason is because in so many cases, at the beginning of the interaction we willingly engage in a bit of “mini theatre” where we agree to play a certain role with the prospect. Asking and answering, answering and asking, showing and telling…the biggest sin being that, thru no fault of either party, we are simply talking about the wrong things.

The subtext is fear; our fear is that if we don’t do this dance of feature / functionality we will be wrongfully perceived as being unable to meet requirements or not seem like an easy to work with “get along guy.”

Conversely the prospect’s fear is buying a somewhat expensive product that simply does not do what is needed, is the wrong choice, is something that won’t talk to existing host systems, is too difficult to manage or get the rank and file to adopt, or is something that won’t accommodate newer platforms such as mobile.

All reasonable fears except for one thing: today all really good high end content management software typically does all of that…whatever the requirement. When we are brought in by a client to replace another provider’s solution (which is happening more and more) it is almost never a product deficiency. Plain and simple it was the provider that was the problem; it is rarely the “car” and almost always the “mechanic” at fault. Today in content management it has never been easier to buy a great car and yet at the same time never been more difficult to identify and align with a great “mechanic.”

So going back; this often can be traced to the buying decisions that were largely centered on the demo. All products look good in a demo, even second tier products, they even verge on seeming identical. But the implementation, someone taking the time to understand the nuances of exactly how your department works now and what it needs to be better, sharing what other similar companies have done to improve. That is not your everyday. And then most importantly – actually fulfilling everything you said would happen and not disappearing until it does just that. That is a good mechanic.

Believe me when I tell you this: you think you are shopping for a product – you are not. You really want to be shopping for the end game moment: your specific user experience once everything is installed, configured, tested, documented and trained on. That end point experience should be the beginning and focus of your search.

 What level and form of commitment is in place to guarantee that when the dust settles and the work is done that your solution – not your “product” is not only working as promised but more critically is accomplishing all the things that made you buy it in the first place?

IOS focuses on the end user experience. Like a film going backwards imagine a giant rewind where we start at the end and you can see in reverse  all the things that had to happen to ensure that the productivity gain is occurring;  the right product, the configuration, the indexing schema, the integrations, the training, the user adoption on and on. That is the IOS approach; start with what needs to happen to improve client world and work backwards from there.

So if we collectively focus on the very end we can drill to the heart of it all by answering excellent questions such as: what is your process to ensure that I get what I need once the check is written? How do you commit to that and how do you guarantee it? Who in your company will be taking care of me and how many of those are there exactly?

That is an authentic conversation and one we love to have. The end is the best place to start.
Thursday, September 3, 2015

21st Century Makeover

By Brian Kopack

Labor Day needs a makeover.

For a long time, the discussion feels like it has focused on quantity.  There is an unhealthy fascination with being able to talk about how much we work.

Near and dear to our hearts at IOS is the subject of work – except our focus has always been on making it easier.

We think quality is where it’s at.  Work smarter and more efficiently - not more.

We have been singularly focused on content management for a long time – 40+ years, and surprisingly, we find the greatest aversion to embracing content management is businesses having to abandon outdated, inefficient routines.  In an effort to gain more control over everything, they have created smothering processes that stifle progress, and they can’t escape.  Even though they aren’t happy, businesses are more content to do nothing and be mediocre than to change and improve.  It is easier to be more afraid of succeeding than stagnating.

Those businesses will keep right on performing uninspiring, badly designed tasks.  Sadly, they will work harder and longer and get less satisfaction for their effort.

Sounds wonderful, right?

They don’t realize the transformational power technology + great ideas create.

IOS does.

What we do at IOS is just as much about working smart today as it is about being positioned to work smarter tomorrow.  Satisfy today’s needs and anticipate tomorrow’s challenges.  Everything we do and everything we have ever done is centered on information management:  document conversion - content management systems - intelligent records storage - custom development.  Expert.  Creative. Agile.  Real solutions for real work challenges.

I think I will write President O about changing the name of the 1st Monday in September.  He changed the name of a mountain, certainly he could consider this.

How about IOS Day?

You’ll never think about work the same again.
Thursday, August 20, 2015

One Step at a Time

By Brian Kopack

Someone told me this week that trying to manage his company’s information was like running in sand.

Totally cliché, but he was exactly right.

Managing information and running in sand are both difficult and have similar success formulas:  understand the terrain, take short, quick steps and, most importantly, never stop moving forward.

Follow the formula – everything is great.

Go off-script – work twice as hard to make very little progress.

He couldn’t have known, but I just returned from my annual pilgrimage to southwest Michigan.  Each morning, I run the same dunes I’ve been running for almost 30 years.  Same location at least, not the same dunes.

The dunes are never the same – sand shifts (say that 5 times fast).

The content management landscape and business priorities do too.  One day it’s preservation (compliance), tomorrow it will be access (organization) and the day after that it’s process automation (workflow).

At one time, being great at making things or providing services was good enough – before the internet and data mining and focused product placement.   Now, businesses have to be as concerned about managing their information as they are about managing their production process because those concerns have never been more dependent on the other.

Better information means better decision making and better processes which produces better products and services which drive the need for better information, and so on, and so on….

Trying to manage tomorrow’s business with yesterday’s tools is a losing proposition.

At IOS, we understand that information deficiencies are barriers to business.  Our approach to problem solving: expert, creative and agile, helps remove those barriers to allow businesses to regain balance and control.

Our discovery-driven discovery injects our experience into what our customers are experiencing to shape a new reality.

Whether the solution involves intelligent records management or document conversion or integrated information systems or expert professional services or some combination of all of them, our customers are creating an infrastructure to maximize the power of their information that is robust today and flexible for tomorrow.

Information independence takes effort, but it shouldn’t be a struggle.

If it is, you’re doing it wrong.

Monday, August 3, 2015

It's the Idea, Stupid

By Brian Kopack

It was “the economy”.

Not anymore.

With new candidates announcing their intentions to run for the presidency almost daily, the drumbeat is growing louder about the importance of ideas.  In their announcements, almost all of them talk about the need for new ideas - that our future depends on new ideas – about how our country can’t solve new problems with old ideas.  Since the field is about 100, that’s a lot of talk about ideas.

“It’s the idea that matters.”

I think I’ve heard that somewhere before.  Sure would look good on a button.

Whatever the politics, the presidential hopefuls are right about ideas.  So is IOS.

Suppose for a second….…IOS was a candidate.

Everything you are looking for to select the next leader of the free world in one place: experience and a proven record of success, creative and fearless thought leadership in a constantly changing environment, and an agile, discovery-driven model that helps solve problems you don’t even know you have.

Sounds presidential doesn’t it?  Leadership looks the same in any arena.

Back to what we do best – content management.

Our unique combination of intelligent records management, document conversion services and integrated information systems with expert professional services builds something that works now and that will adapt to the future. Great ideas that create value never goes out of style.

A vision for the future of content management: expertise, creativity and agility.

That’s IOS2016.
Monday, July 20, 2015

Not Just a Catch Phrase

By Brian Kopack

Below is an excerpt from a message we received this morning.  (Some details have been omitted to protect the innocent.)

“We have just completed our upgrade …...  I cannot leave the office without telling you how much we appreciate the efforts of Kevin and Bill this evening.

We ran into a few challenges tonight and still have a couple of final tasks due to customized workflow of some of our departments.  It would have been impossible to overcome these challenges if not for the product knowledge, the experience and the can-do attitude of these two guys.  Tonight’s efforts were a great example of the difference it can make when a support team really knows its product inside & out and has the ability & attitude to make things work."

Completely unsolicited.  Absolutely appreciated.

We know great things aren’t accomplished easily.  Often, improvement is incremental.  In our world, when it’s easy to devalue patience, we know great ideas + hard work always carry the day.

It’s nice when that perspective is affirmed.

What comes through above is IOS at its best – expertise, creativity, agility.

It’s one thing for us to say “it”.

It’s way better when someone else does.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What's Your Superpower?

By Brian Kopack

Ant Man

Seriously?  That’s the next great superhero movie?

I’m not a comic book guy, but who knew Ant Man was a person / thing?  There’s Superman and then the B-team.  How far do you even have scroll down that list before you get to Ant Man?  Whatever. The movie might be great, but the obligatory superhero summer diet and workout plan probably can’t be - - because it’s Ant Man.  Captain America – yep.  Thor – yep.  Ant Man – not so much.

We’ve probably all imagined what we would want our superpower to be – x-ray vision, invisibility, to be able to fly.  Dare to dream.

At IOS, I think we really have an actual superpower.

Our ideas create solutions that correct past problems, improve current conditions and revolutionize future performance.  Past, present and future in real time. Looking back and forward simultaneously.

Magic?  No.  Excellence?  Yes.

Often, we meet businesses in some state of tumult.  They do the best they can to manage their information, but their practices/processes are holding them back.  They are upset, nervous —lost.  They know they need help, but they don’t know where to turn.

Then they find IOS.  Expertise – Creativity – Agility

IOS hits the scene as the secret weapon.  Exactly what they need.  Exactly when they need it.
The script flips from “How did this happen?” to “If we only knew then what we know now, we would have saved a ton of time/worry/dollars.”

Not quite faster than a speeding bullet or magic lassos and invisible planes, but still cool.

With IOS’ help, businesses preserve their past with customized document conversion, improve their present with best-in-class technology and process automation and shape their future through process reengineering and expert business advice.

Since we only use our powers for good, everybody lives happily ever after.

Doing our part to improve the world through smarter use of information – that’s IOS.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pomp & Circumstance

By Brian Kopack

‘Tis the season.

Graduation season.

If you’ve been to any, and chances are you have, you know “the speech”.

They all pretty much follow the same script.

If ever asked to present, the IOS commencement speech would probably start with a provocative and inspiring quote (after thanking everyone for everything):

“It’s the idea that matters.”

Then continue,

“As you move on from here, try and remember three things.  First, work to be great at something.  The world likes experts, a lot.  Next, there will always be a place for people who are curious and inventive. What you think about and how you think about it might change the way someone else thinks or lives or works.  Lastly, flexibility of thought will shape the future.  Technology converging with opportunity gives energy to ideas.  That’s where we get real transformation.  Conversely, rigidity begets indifference and stagnation.”  (Note:  It’s a rule that there has to be one of these lines in every speech.)

That would be followed by a couple of humorous stories, more thanking everybody and rousing applause.

You would love it if the next address you hear is that short – admit it.

I think it’s great the IOS message is so versatile. The speech is what we’ve been telling you for a while.

Everything we do is based on the very simple philosophy that it’s the idea that matters.  What enables us to do that is the experience and expertise of our people…allowing us to be creative and agile.  We specialize in Information Management.

Like the speech, the IOS message is equal parts hopeful, enthusiastic and idealistic.  It is as applicable to a new graduate as it is to the leader of a business.  It’s more about beginnings than endings.  It’s focused on what’s next.

That’s IOS.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Let's Conversate

By John Trimble

Earlier this week I was on a conference call with a senior executive from a multi-national and very prosperous document management manufacturer. In the introductions he thanked everyone for their time and then said he wanted to “conversate” about some of the issues we were seeing.


Every fiber in my being, every firing synapse, every racing impulse demanded that I interrupt and say, “I’m sorry, did you just say conversate? What the hell is conversate? Do you mean converse? Possibly have a conversation? Is that a regional thing because I am pretty sure conversate is not exactly in the dictionary.”

But I didn’t. It would have been even more rude than I generally allow myself to be, especially when I have not yet met face to face. I am not opposed to correcting grammar or syntax you understand, particularly if it is one of my salespeople. I have happily done that in front of clients because right is right and wrong is wrong. There is plenty of time for future generations to butcher and drown the English language so there is no need to look the other way and speed up the process.

But there is also an interesting subtext to that moment; where is the perforated line in business between being proper and polite at the expense of being authentic? Clearly the message is the massage and there should be a way to verbally navigate anything without being a jack-ass, but you still have to convey what you really think. Regardless of how concerned you might be about how it will be received.

For IOS as a sales organization that means that we have an obligation to tell the truth, to get the truth down to the nub even when it might not be terribly clever or expedient for us to do so.

Personally I will forgive a lot of things but being inauthentic by telling me what you think I want to hear is not one of them. I assume our clients are the same; if you want to continue a process that is strangling you just because it is comfortable we need to tell you. If you want to over spend on a solution to a problem with no ROI– we have to tell you with the same zeal as when we think you are cutting corners.

If we both always agree one of us is redundant. If we always agree one of us is being inauthentic. At IOS it is the idea that matters. Sometimes that trumps the polite myth that “the client is always right” which even today is far more pervasive than you might think.

The client was right to select us. It is now the IOS responsibility to be right on their behalf in solving their problem.

We will converse but we will not conversate. That I promise.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Was Don Draper Inspired By IOS?

By Brian Kopack

Mad Men is over.

Provocative.  Retro-cool.  Great storytelling.  It was a good watch for a long time.  So good, it was easy to forget that it wasn’t real.

In one of the early seasons, the fictional, but seemingly-real Don Draper says, “Make it simple, but significant.”

Did we hire him to craft the IOS story?

We didn’t.  But without knowing it, he describes what sounds like our approach to solving business problems.

We say that everything we do is based on the very simple philosophy that it’s the idea that matters.  What enables us to do that is the experience and expertise of our people…allowing us to be creative and agile.

Managing information means different things to different people.  In the end, it’s about getting the right information to the right people at the right time to simplify work and make better decisions.  Do all that in a way that allows businesses to focus on work and not on the systems needed to do the work – that’s when you’ve arrived.

IOS aligns people and processes through technology.  Our unique approach to information management and process automation changes how you work and how you feel about work.

Ideas are cheap.  Great ideas that deliver true value are priceless.  Experts know the difference.

Significance in simplicity comes from expertise.

That’s IOS

Friday, May 1, 2015

I Want... Scratch that, I Need.

By Brian Kopack

It’s just a watch - - - except it isn’t.

A watch that’s just a watch only marks time.  This isn’t that watch.

Apple didn’t invent the watch.  They just made it better.

The iWatch launch proved this watch is a must-have item.  Everyone has a watch and just about everything tells you the time.  Think dashboards, phones, billboards and microwaves.  On top of that, you already have most all of its other functionality on your other devices.  Doesn’t matter.  This watch is an attitude.

Apple cracked the code.

Move from being a nice-to-have to a need-to-have.

They sold integration.  They sold potential.  They sold hope.  They sold the attitude of embracing continuous improvement.

The world becomes more digital every day.  This watch uses technology to connect our lives more seamlessly with that world.

What technology makes available to us today is amazing.  What will be available tomorrow is exciting.  This watch will spawn innovation making us active participants in the future.

This watch will change behavior by giving us a new way to think about how to take advantage of the available technological superpowers.  Transformation through evolution.

Our business alter-ego should be just as invested in how technology integrates people around work processes, how it creates opportunities for expansive growth and how it provides us a creative outlet to imagine the future of work.

Smart businesses are changing their expectations of what role technology will play in a collaborative work environment.  Skepticism, (maybe fear) is fading to an attitude of excitement about what is possible.  Leveraging technology and having the intellectual curiosity to change how work will get done.

At IOS, we’ve been a thought leader in the transformation of work environments specializing in intelligent workflow design and process automation - - improving the process of work through technology. That’s business-speak for process + technology + great ideas = a better business.

We didn’t invent content management.  We just make it better, every day.

That’s IOS.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Remember - Don't Relive

By Brian Kopack

“Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe closet?”

The Breakfast Club was re-released in theaters.

“Screws fall out all the time.  The world’s an imperfect place.”

It’s been 30 years since it came out.  Even though we’ve both seen it dozens of times, my wife and I still went to watch it on the big screen.  Not because we expected something different to happen – more for the nostalgia of it.

Remember where you’ve been.  Think about how far you’ve come. Be happy you don’t have to go back.

The best part was we could watch the movie in a 2015 theater – with better sound and more comfortable seats, and when it was over it was over, and – it wasn’t 1985 again.  The movie featured a K-Car and a 3x5 index card library catalog.  Pretty common in 1985, viewed through today’s lense, they both feel totally out of place.

Not that everything today is the very best whatever ever, but how many things do we have today that we would trade for the 20 or 10 or 5 year old version of itself?  Technology exists, we should use it.  It’s foolish to hang onto the past too tightly.

Hopefully, when you look at your business, you don’t see your 2005-self or your 2000-self, or worse.

Truth is – you might, especially if you are managing today’s information demands with some version of yesterware.  You’re putting your business at a competitive disadvantage if you aren’t hyper-diligent at managing the systems that provide you the information you use to manage your business.

Technology changes the world so fast, the longer you stand still, the farther behind you get.  Yesterware is at best a crutch, at worst an illusion.  Yesterware drains you of time and efficiency and happiness.  Yesterware denies you what’s possible.  Yesterware is what you settle for.

You can’t measure your critical business processes in days anymore.  No one has that much patience.  It’s wrong to create positions for people as work-arounds to your system’s limitations.  There is less tolerance for inefficiency today than ever before.  You’re not being proactive if because the support for your aging systems is limited, you have well-practiced, documented procedures for how to do business in the event of extended system down-time.  In an on-demand world, 99.5% up-time feels intolerable.

What’s the solution?  Finding a partner who knows content management, who understands process automation and who can deliver customized solutions customers really need to help them function in the information-centric world.

Expertise, creativity, agility.  IOS is that partner.

Our work doesn’t go out of style.

Preserving the Past.  Improving the Present.  Shaping the Future.

That’s IOS
Thursday, April 2, 2015

My New Audi Has No Workflow

By John Trimble

You are sitting across the desk from a reasonable imitation of a carbon based life form sales guy negotiating the final details of your luxury car purchase. Maybe it’s an Audi, maybe a Mercedes or the new Infiniti. It doesn’t matter because they are all pretty great. But then you are jolted because you realize you have neglected to discuss the sound system. Let’s face it, other than the driver’s door handle, accelerator and brake this will be used more than anything else.

You mention this and the sales automaton says,” No, don’t go with a name brand upgraded system. The reason you want a basic sound system made by the manufacturer is one word: integration.”

“Listen, I know for a fact that Audi offers Bang and Olufsen, that Mercedes offers Harman Kardon, heck, even Infiniti offers Bose. Those are great products.”

“Sure, they are available but I recommend you stick with the tried and true basic package. You don’t need premium. You just want it to work. Doesn’t that seem like a safer choice? Fewer hassles?  Of course they’re not as good but you won’t need all that functionality anyway…it’s good enough. Trust me.”

While this conversation seems unimaginable its twin happens every day in Healthcare. The big car equivalent purchase, of course, is the EMR system. Big money, big decision. But just like your sound system the hospitals also need document management, today more than ever. So much so that many EMR manufacturers are including a Document Management component, very often branded as part of the EMR. So what is wrong with that?

 I am going to tell you three main reasons and then you will tell me which one sounds the worst.

1.  In no way shape, manner or form are they as well designed and complete as high quality ECM products such as Hyland OnBase or FileBound. They too often lack the functionality of easily constructed workflows, audit trails, document routing, alerts and reporting tools all necessary for compliance in a highly regulated HIPAA environment.

2.  The scanning of documents into the Document Management module is a famously overlooked aspect; if the system’s scanning software is not able to do optical recognition, point and click indexing and batch scanning, all allowing the ingesting of documents very quickly, the improvement over paper filing evaporates. The bundled ECM modules are notorious for having little or no automation whatsoever. They also tend to struggle with importing different electronic image and file formats – particularly from older patient files - which are now abundant to say the least.

3.  Maybe the biggest and most misunderstood idea is that by buying the Document Management module that hangs off the EMR software someone is buying one station radio. While critical, the Medical Records area is only one challenged department; there is also HR, Accounting, Registration, Legal and more. When pressed many respond with ”I guess we will just get another system for those areas.”  Let that resonate for a moment to appreciate how both silly and unnecessary that really is.

The worst? That is up to you. To me the killer is settling for something that is not nearly as good, going backwards in technology just because someone knows that it will seem easier to you.  Integration? It is done every day. That is the big fear lie that is told to protect the sales of lesser products. There is no need. A safe decision?  The IOS advice would be look before you leap. IOS also wants you to have a decent stereo in your darn car.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cool Like Prince

By Brian Kopack

In entertainment, same as in business, achieving relevancy is hard.  Keeping it is even harder.  But being relevant – that’s cool.

Think back to high school.  Who / what from your high schools days is still relevant?

For me:  Prince

Prince is as relevant today as he was in the mid-80’s – and that’s a long time ago.

How? He’s ridiculously talented.  He’s consistently innovative.  His style is always evolving.

He isn’t the artist that gets popular and then milks that popularity into obscurity.  One day, sold out arenas.  Next day, two-for-one tickets at the county fair.

Prince is the guy that grabs attention whenever he appears because everything he does is relevant.  Movies.  Time Most Influential List.  Super Bowl halftime shows.  We just expect him to be great.  That’s cool.

What’s the Prince-ly lesson about staying relevant in business?

Be great.  Be original.  Be adaptive.  People like that.

In IOSspeak, that’s:  Be Expert.  Be Creative.  Be Agile.

We have to be because in information management, status quo is the death knell. Keep doing what you’ve always done because that’s all you know how to do.  Wake up one day – and you’ll be irrelevant – or gone.  History books are filled with those stories.

We couldn’t be where we are after 40+ years if we settled for “good enough” for ourselves or our clients.

What we do may change.  How we do it may change.  Why we do it won’t change.

We know the world runs on information.  That’s what is at the center of everything we do - document conversion, content management systems, intelligent records storage, or custom development.  We’re focused on getting the best information to people who need it at the right time to make better decisions.  In our own way, we help the world run smarter.

That’s cool.  That’s IOS

Of all the honors Prince has received in his life, I bet he never expected to be the feature of the 1st blog posted on new IOS website.  We are excited about launching it.  We think you’ll love it.  We’ve been telling you for a long time that it’s the idea that matters.  We think the new site tells that story better.  The refresh highlights everything we’ve been doing to move business forward and presents it in what we think is a more engaging, more intuitive and more personal style.  Enjoy the new content.  Check out the new videos.  Let us know what you think.
Monday, March 2, 2015

Are You Smart?

By Brian Kopack

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”   F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great Gatsby! He was on to something.

To be clear, he was not talking about multi-tasking.  Being able to brush your teeth and send a text at the same time isn’t that big a deal.  The multi-tasking myth is a topic for a different day – you know, how it’s possible to give your undivided attention to two things at the same time.  I feel silly just typing that.  Even though some people think that’s still a thing, he was after something much bigger.

Was F. Scott right?  Yes.  How do I know?  Here’s how. IOS has been working with intelligent people on the duality of information management for more than 40 years – and changing things for the better.

Continuously improving the way a business manages its information takes a special perspective.  In trying to solve information management issues, businesses are dealing simultaneously with:

Status quo maintenance v. transformational vision

Current systems and processes require much support.  Good employees are not being properly utilized.  Managers are challenged with increasing expectations and shorter deadlines.  Not enough time to get everything they have to get done.

And this:

Technology is creating opportunities at a ridiculous pace.  Automation of routine tasks frees good employees to maximize their potential.  Businesses that control information effectively can dictate change and predict what’s next.  Not enough time to get everything they want to get done.

One foot in present (or worse, the past) and one foot towards the future.

For most of the organizations struggling with that problem, the problem is problem enough.  It’s here, it’s growing and it’s obvious to everyone.  Add the problem of finding a partner to be the guide to improvement and the challenge seems paralyzing.

At IOS, we’re smart and we’ve never been afraid of a challenge.  We believe our experience, creativity and agility give us a not-to-be-duplicated perspective on managing information.  Regardless of industry, technical sophistication, or magnitude of the project, we know the most valuable thing we can offer is the power of our expertise.

Special challenges require special people to make special efforts to develop special solutions.

That’s IOS
Monday, February 16, 2015

The Trane Don't Wait

By John Trimble

There is a wonderful true story about jazz great John Coltrane. Nicknamed “Trane” he is considered the greatest tenor saxophonist to have ever lived. By the mid 1960’s he had mastered and exhausted the melodic variation in his soloing and had moved to a more atonal approach. Listening to John Coltrane’s decidedly non-melodic soloing during his quartet’s set one night at the Village Gate in New York City were two famous jazz players, one remarking “I can’t really get where the Trane is coming from”.

The perfect reply was immediate: “Well, you know, the Trane don’t wait.”

Neither John Coltrane nor the metaphorical train of progress waits. They are leaving the station with or without you.

So when we wait, when our companies wait, reluctant to change, hesitant to innovate, thinking there will be time to catch up at some point we have to admit that we don’t even know how many departures we have missed, how far we are really behind. And who exactly do we need to catch up to?

The answer – disagreeable to the extreme – is that if you are still just thinking about process change, process reinvention and automation there is about a decade of train track to make up. What’s worse? Track time is linear but the effects of change, the distance, the advantages that improvements create are non-linear. Ideas and their results don’t move at track time. The impact of process improvement with workflow, analytics, mobile access, etc. speeds up and makes the delta even more pronounced between those companies who are moving and those still waving from the station.

In motion versus stationary…Coltrane versus the hundreds of more traditional players whose limited vision rendered them nameless…advantages versus disadvantages that can no longer be measured.
The good news is that there is still time to propel yourself into the future. IOS can help reduce that giant head start by showing you what so many companies have done already...and why.

IOS can help put you and your ideas in motion…because the Trane don’t wait.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Not Just Another Day

By Brian Kopack

It’s Monday.  It’s the day after the Super Bowl.  And, if you live in the Midwest, it’s the third day of a marathon snowstorm.

That’s a lot to deal with on even a normal day.  Today isn’t a normal day.

It’s Groundhog Day.

I’m not sure today is a “holiday”, but all the pomp and circumstance give it that vibe.  For whatever reason, it has a special-day feel.

It might be because it refreshes our outlook.  It could be that we anticipate better things to come – new beginnings.  Maybe it’s just the thrill of the big reveal.

While I am sure you waiting with bated-breath to hear verdict on winter, (no pressure, Phil, but winter better be over soon), we also have news.

IOS is excited to announce the creation of the IOS Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Effective January 2015, IOS began the process of becoming an employee owned company.

Since its start in the 70’s, IOS has occupied a unique place in the business landscape.  By embracing the power of evolving technology, IOS has been a thought leader in information management – since before information management was even really a thing.

And while a lot has changed at IOS in five decades, two things haven’t – the belief that technology doesn’t make business better by itself – that it’s the idea that matters.  We’ve proven that our brand of communication, creativity, agility and expertise elevate performance.  And, the exceptional talents of its employees give IOS a platform to deliver on that belief.

The ESOP is the next, exciting chapter in the IOS story – the natural extension of who we are and what we do.

Your relationship with IOS has always been with the people – not the Company.  We prefer it that way.  Now more than ever, the people and the Company are the same.

That’s IOS – an employee-owned company.
Monday, January 19, 2015

The King, Ziggy Stardust & Information Management

By Brian Kopack

Thursday January 8th was a big day.

It was the shared birthday of Elvis Presley and David Bowie.  No doubt you caught some of the coverage throughout the day.  As I listened to some of the reports on my drive home, it dawned on me – how much IOS has in common with them in terms of affecting our respective audiences.

Enduring Legacy
Elvis was a larger-than-life personality until he passed away in 1977.  In the almost 40 years since, he still has an enormous following.  If you’ve ever been to Graceland, you get it.

David Bowie is still creating and performing after almost 50 years.  I remember seeing him in concert when I was in high school.  I thought he was cool, but old.  He is still cool.  What’s weird is he was as old then as I am writing this now.  Everyone would be lucky to age as gracefully as he has.

IOS has been a thought leader in information management since the early 70’s – eight Presidents ago.  A lot has changed in business in those 40+ years, but IOS’ commitment to leading the evolution of technology in information management has been a reassuring constant.

International Appeal
Both Elvis and Bowie toured the world throughout their careers and have millions of fans around the globe.

“World-famous” might be a stretch, but IOS’ influence and expertise have spread from our headquarters in Indiana across the US to Europe and as far away as Australia. Great ideas expertly delivered definitely travel.  In an industry with as much competition and disruption as information management, IOS’ expertise translates nicely.

Transformational Originality
Elvis – check. Bowie – double check.  Unquestionably, two of the most influential entertainers the planet will ever know.  Often imitated, never duplicated.

At IOS, we like to think of ourselves the same way.  Great ideas from great people you can’t get anywhere else to help you be more than you ever thought possible.

We’ve built our reputation on the very idea that our experience and creativity make us uniquely able to develop solutions that deliver lasting value - that the work we do for our customers becomes inherent in who they are as an organization.

The same way your favorite songs become the soundtrack of your life.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Warning: Truth Hurts

By Brian Kopack

This won’t be a New Year’s rah-rah post – more of a “don’t make it to this time next year and still be thinking about thinking about it” reflection.

I hadn’t been at Price Waterhouse very long when a manager told me two things that have stuck with me for 20+ years: (1) read 30 minutes each day, and (2) don’t ever complain about being busy.

She told me, “It doesn’t matter what you read, just read something.  Find the time.”  She was right.  

The 2nd point was a no-brainer.  In public accounting, everyone works hard.  Everyone is busy pretty much all the time.  No one wants to hear about it.   Complaining doesn’t make it better.

Last Monday was a déjà vu moment.

I read a piece by Dina Kaplan.  I don’t know anything about her.  I’ve never read anything else she’s written.  I can’t even tell you how I found the post.  What I can tell you is – it was really great.

She started simply enough – a friend told her he was too busy to read.  Then, it got interesting.

It’s now 5 days later and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Busy and lazy are linked.

Think about that.  An uncomfortable truth – personally and professionally.

Not exactly breaking news - it’s easy to complain and make excuses and settle for being less than your best.  It’s hard to do something about it – to make a change.

Leave the personal life-coaching to Oprah.

Examine the business angle.

The “too busy” feeling is unfortunately all too familiar.  Too busy to think, plan, change, dream, improve….  Kaplan wrote, “…being busy has become a refrain and rationale for the things we don’t do, an acceptable and even glamorous excuse.”

There you have it.

Kaplan continued, “If you are in charge of a company or division, it is lazy not to think about processes to make work less busy.”

There you have it, again.

If there is a better way and you don’t try it, or if you can’t do it by yourself, but you don’t try and find a partner to help, what’s the excuse?   Stop with the “I work better when I have a lot going on.”  How much better would you work if you were in control of your time and your effort?  What if you could focus on your highest value work?

The key is being in control of how to process information.

I doubt Kaplan intended her post to be about information management, but it’s a nice parallel because life is about information management.  Your whole life is password protected.  Your level of personal and professional engagement is directly related to your comfort level managing the technology that manages information.  The less confidently you feel you can use technology, the more likely you are to feel disconnected - like technology is something holding you back instead of propelling you forward.

At IOS, we would tell you that we understand the technology, we have the people and most importantly, we have ideas to help make you great at managing your information.  That’s the polite way of telling you that we are great and making you greater. Combine technological expertise with agility and creativity and guess what?  Less busy, more effective at controlling your day and better positioned to do the work you should be doing – what’s important instead of what’s the most urgent.

What a concept.

Thanks for reading.  Do something good to start the New Year – pass it on.