ARMA International Conference 2006

What a week! Most of the Records Management team is now back in Redmond from the ARMA International Conference in San Antonio, Texas, and I want to talk a bit about the event for the benefit of everyone who wasn’t able to attend.

First and foremost, a few acknowledgements:

  1. I would like to thank ARMA International on behalf of Microsoft for hosting a great and well-executed conference, and allowing us to participate as technology sponsor. It was a real pleasure for us to be involved, both as a company and as the individuals who got to spend a few days in San Antonio, TX.
  2. I personally would like to thank all of the Microsoft people, both from the product teams, the sales & marketing groups, and our Legal and Corporate Affairs group for participating at the show. It was a major time commitment from some busy people, and it was really appreciated. :-)

With those thanks covered, on to a summary of the event…

Microsoft booth at the ARMA Expo

Despite a sub-optimal location for the Microsoft booth on the tradeshow floor (the best floor spots are usually the ones near the food/drinks ;-) ), our booth saw non-stop traffic from the beginning to the very end. Attendance was so strong that most of our people worked double-shifts to help us talk to everyone. We even ran out of Office SharePoint Server & Exchange 2007 Beta DVDs… and we’d brought a lot of them to the show. Here are the links to download the Betas for those who missed out:

It was great to see so many people interested in what we were doing, asking really thoughtful questions, and responding so positively to the 2007 release and our demonstrations. The conceptual model of “collaborative spaces” vs. “records spaces” that we first outlined on this blog resonated with many people, including practitioners, other vendors, and even members of the ARMA leadership.

I’m glad our product people and our corporate practitioners were there – I think that the attendees really appreciated our being able to have conversations from both of those perspectives.

And it was clear that there’s been a real “word-of-mouth effect” for Microsoft’s Records Management efforts in our 2007 releases – we had many attendees come by saying that “I heard from others that you guys are doing big things in RM now and that I have to come see your demo.” So thanks to everyone who is spreading the word!

Our “Technology Spotlight Session” on Tuesday, October 24

In addition to our booth at the ARMA expo, Tina Torres and I also presented a “Technology Spotlight Session” on Tuesday, October 24 about the 2007 release and our experiences using it internally at Microsoft. (Here are the links to the presentation, which has been split into 3 PPT files: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

We were blown away by the attendance for this session! The ballroom where we gave the presentation was very full, and it’s quite a large room. Judging from the feedback we got during and after the session, it was really well-received. (On several occasions we were told that “it’s clear you guys really understand this space!”.) “Telling the story” from both the practitioner and the product perspective really struck a chord with the conference attendees.

People read our blog!

One other takeaway from the event was that this blog has been a valuable resource for the Records Management community. We’ve had raw “page view” statistics about the blog for a while (it actually ranks in the top 6% of all Microsoft blogs by audience size), but this event was one of the first times we could gauge how well it was serving Records Managers. It was really gratifying to hear so many people who came to the booth saying “It’s great to meet you. We read the blog regularly!” When we started this blog we weren’t really sure if it would be a good way to reach the Records Management community… but it’s great to know that it has.

And while we’re on that topic… probably the most surprising takeaway from the conference was the amount of personal recognition that I received. (The running joke among the Microsoft participants after the show was that next year we should give away “Ethan bobble-head dolls” instead of Hostess Twinkies. :-) )

I should firstly say that I’m very flattered and grateful. At the same time I’d like to clarify that there are a lot of people on the Microsoft Records Management team that deserve the credit that was being given to me. It’s been a real pleasure working on the team building these products for the last few years, and especially fun to be the “public face” for the team now that we’re so close to releasing the products. But there are many people on the team who’ve worked over the past few years to both understand the Records Management space and to build the products… I take every piece of kind personal feedback as a “team” compliment, and will relay those to them accordingly.

Also, if people now think we understand Records Management, a lot of people deserve credit for making that happen. First and foremost, the RM department in Microsoft’s Legal & Corporate Affairs spent many hours helping to educate us early on and give us feedback, as did many other customers who participated in Microsoft Office’s early adopter programs. (I can’t mention specific names of those organizations, but they know who they are. :-) ) So I wanted to thank them one more time for all of their participation in this effort.

We want your feedback!

Finally, I want to ask all of you who were at the conference for your feedback. This was our first time at ARMA as a vendor, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on what went well with our booth & session, where we can do better next year, etc. A few attendees shared some comments with us during the event -- please keep your feedback coming!

Thanks for reading, and thanks again to ARMA and its membership for a really great conference & week!

- Ethan Gur-esh, Program Manager.