By the second day of the AIIM conference in San Francisco, more than 37,000 people had walked into Moscone Center and pinned on a conference badge.

While the show included the traditional flurry of new product releases and energetic marketing, possibly the biggest news from the AIIM show is the parent organization has amended its name to reflect a broadened scope and a new mission. Officially, the new name is Association of Information and Image Management International. AIIM's added objective is to become more active outside North America, reflecting the trend of a globalized economy and such trade agreements as NAFTA and GATT. The association has already begun implementing a worldwide agenda, including the opening of an office in Brussels.

Guiding AIIM in its first international year will be IBM's David Liddell, who became chairman of the board of directors at the conclusion of the show April 13.

NEW PRODUCTS

Among the new product announcements was Intergraph's entry into the imaging and workflow arena. Its set of DM2 document management, off-the-shelf software products are initially being marketed to utilities and the federal government. Intergraph says it will expand the product's marketing to include transportation and manufacturing later this year. According to the company, DM2 adds value to "the core to form a comprehensive electronic document management system solution."

Other releases touted product adjustments for compatibility with some operating systems. ATG Cygnet, for example, announced that its optical storage libraries will be accessible through Lotus Notes-based applications.

SEMINARS

More than 100 seminars and presentations were featured during the three-day show, with experts lecturing on imaging subjects from the very technical to issues such as ensuring imaging systems are compatible with rules of evidence in court.

One seminar, presented by American Records Managers Association President Tyrone Butler, focused on management concerns in a rapidly changing discipline. "Records managers are as concerned with their jobs as anyone else, with outsourcing and downsizing," Butler said. So it is necessary for managers to stay ahead of the curve and be a part of the information revolution, he said. These needs are reflected in the conference program, with an increasing number of seminars devoted to management.

"We can all agree that the increasing use of technology has changed the way we do business," Butler said. "But, unfortunately, it has not increased productivity. We need to develop imaging systems and document management through the whole system," he said, because automating parts of a process don't always result in an optimal workflow system.

A number of seminars by state and local governments were excellent, but - oddly enough - were sparsely attended. Linda Salac - imaging project director for the Nebraska Department of Health - presented the formula used to introduce Nebraska's statewide vital statistics imaging project and guide it over the hurdles to completion.

A session of particular interest to libraries was "The Role of Full-Text Retrieval in Image-Based Document Management," by Karen M. Shegda of Datapro Information Services Group. Shegda helped explain the options for finding information in documents. Online information repositories will contain more than just text. They will include spreadsheets, video, photos, fax images and more. When entire libraries of data are dumped onto the Internet or other online systems, customized search engines will be needed to locate many different forms of information.

Search engines have evolved from keyword, to Boolean, to newer more intuitive engines that use artificial intelligence and work from natural language queries. More are on the way.

New search engines can scan TIFF files for colors, shades and textures. Neural networks help increase OCR recognition rates. Fuzzy search compensates for misspellings, and allows location of query terms based on root words. Some systems locate information from handwritten forms.

The benefits to government could be significant - shortening conversion time, lowering implementation costs, gaining faster access to documents, and improving productivity.

In keeping with the theme of AIIM, this year's proceedings were available on CD-ROM as well as on the usual hard-copy volumes.

For information about AIIM, call 301/587-8202, Fax 301/587-2711.

Wayne Hanson  |  Editor