Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ATR: Underwhelmed by Information Certification

A couple months ago, I wrote about my achievement of AIIM's Information Certification. I took a little while to compose the post and I ran my drafts past both AIIM and the ICRM. The timing was fortunate, as the ICRM was just announcing some much-needed changes to their test process. I wanted to be fair to both organizations and really wanted to try to be objective in evaluating the new Certification against the gold standard in the industry. I found that AIIM's Certification was surprisingly rigorous and the ICRM has taken up the challenge to step up to the plate on some long-desired program modifications.

After a few emails, I finally had my designation acknowledged by AIIM right after Thanksgiving. One email went astray and I was then sent a link to AIIM's website to claim my welcome, congratulations, and certificate. All quite underwhelming. I certainly understand growing pains, but AIIM really doesn't have their stuff together. The certificate is generic. I was told that it is essentially the same format for any other AIIM certificate program. Nothing fancy and it is a PDF, so you print it yourself if you want something for your wall. John Mancini has a generic congratulations letter that promotes other AIIM training. There are links to graphics for the Certification, but how I display the Certification is quite unclear to me. Since it doesn't fit in the typical alphabet soup, initials after your name format, I really don't know how to show it off. Even putting the designation on a resume is unclear. I guess I'm supposed to put the logo on my business cards. Um, that ain't happening. The Corporate business card standard doesn't allow other logos on the Day Job's cards. I still have no information on certification maintenance.

Clearly I got in to this early. But I think that I expected AIIM to be much more mature in running this program. Maybe I got in on beta version .9, but paying full price for a beta leaves a lot to be desired. I'd suggest to the ICRM that they have little to worry about if AIIM continues to handle this program in this manner. It feels slapdash.

Color me underwhelmed.

Comments from AIIM welcome.

OTR: A Tale of Two Customer Service Departments

Yesterday, I had occasion to communicate with the Customer Service departments of two companies. It was interesting to see how each responded to me.

When I bought my Motorola Atrix, earlier this year, I wanted a holster for the phone. Phones and my pockets never get along and I like having the phones on my belt. The only holster available for the Atrix was the Otterbox Defender. It's a little pricey, but provides outstanding protection to the phone. I have a tendency to drop my phones on concrete and the rubberized case reduces the impact. It does make an otherwise very sleek and thin phone look quick a bit more massive, however. Anyway, I broke the belt clip on the holster. This is common for me, generally when getting into the passenger side of a car. Seems like one phone always finds the door frame and tries to remove itself from my belt -- the clip usually gives way and I'm off to Best Buy looking for a new holster. This one was no different. As I went looking for a replacement, one store suggested that I contact Otterbox because they heard they have very liberal warranty policies.

Yesterday, I sent Otterbox an email. I indicated that the clip had broken and I wanted to know if there was any warranty remedy. I figured that I get a polite form note back at least asking for proof of purchase and a return of the broken holster before they'd decide if they would do anything. At worst, it would be no reply or a simple turn down.

This afternoon, I received two emails from Otterbox. The first was a shipping confirmation for a replacement holster. The second was a nice note from a CSR named John (with his full name, phone number, and email address) letting me know that a replacement was being sent. Wow. No third degree, no proof of purchase, no shipping of the carcass. Awesome.

My other customer service interaction was with Dish Network. I got a call at home last night from a company that the Caller ID said was "Vitelity". For some strange reason, I answered the phone. After the usual robo-call delay, the person on the other end asked for me. She was calling from "Dish Network" about my service. I stopped her and demanded to know how she could be from Dish if the Caller ID said "Vitelity". I told her that I was not going to speak to her and hung up. I sent Dish a fairly sharp email (once I found a way to email them) asking them who Vitelity was and why they were calling me saying they were Dish. A subsequent Google search found some references that seemed to indicate they do telemarketing for Dish and they are calling to try to sell movie packages.

My reply this evening from Dish's employee "Richard" consisted of an "apology" (likely "CSR Apology Form 1") for Dish not meeting my customer service expectations and an invitation to call them and talk to them. Uh huh. Thanks for taking the time to read and comprehend my email.

Guess which company I plan to continue to do business with?

ATR: iPadding

I'm about six weeks into the iPad experiment. It is interesting. Some things work really well; others, not so much. But it has changed my routine and, to some extent, aspects of the way that I work. The biggest gaps with the iPad are Flash and Java. This really only impacts some websites, but there are still quite a few websites built with Flash or Java. That's a pretty big issue and Apple really needs to think about that.

I'm getting to the point where I rarely take my laptop home. During the week, it is chained to my desk and my office is locked, so with a VPN connection and RDP, I can log in to the laptop remotely and pull off needed files or access internal websites if I can't get to them from the home PC. Work email on the iPad is wonderful for the most part. The biggest gap is that I can't immediately get to internal websites, but the ability to quickly open, read and respond to an email is terrific. It is far easier to read email on the iPad than on my Droid, and I thought the Droid had a great screen when I got it two years ago. Interesting how your expectations are modified over time.

If I'm working at home, I still need the laptop for IM and a keyboard. I'm looking at getting a bluetooth keyboard and perhaps a docking station. That might make it easier to work solely using the iPad. Also on the shopping list is a VGA adapter. I noticed some speakers using their iPads to deliver presentations and I downloaded Keynote because it is supposed to be the closest thing to PowerPoint.

The stylus was a good choice. It is easy to write with, although I haven't done a lot of writing. WritePad is great for handwriting recognition, although it takes a little getting used to.

Another gap is good integration with Office tools. It is hard to move notes from the iPad to my laptop. What I'd really like is for a Franklin Planner type of application to integrate with Outlook. A really full-featured planner app would be perfect. Supposedly Franklin is looking at doing just that, but I suspect the decline of the paper-based calendars limits their resources to develop a good app. I'm really surprised that they didn't start developing electronic apps sooner. Once upon a time, they had the market cornered on note-taking and planning. I know a few people who still rely on their paper systems, but those people are few and far between.

In the leisure side of things, my Kindle quickly was shelved. I'm a little disappointed there because it was only a couple months old. The Kindle is a great reading platform, but it isn't much more than that. You can do a few things, but it is not suited for much more than reading books. The Kindle app on the iPad is very nice and turning pages by tapping the screen is easy and natural. I find myself toting the iPad wherever I go. Watching football, I have the NFL app running to follow other scores. I will stop and look something up on the Web. Email is at my fingertips. I am watching TV in the easy chair more than I used to. Battery life is outstanding, although recharging does take a while.

I'd say that overall, the iPad is a game-changer. I have probably barely broken the surface of capabilities, but I'm gaining productivity in general. The price point is still high and the price per GB of storage capacity is still too high. I still think the sweet spot for tablets isin the $200 to $300 range, with economy models around $100. That will move them off the shelves. As long as a tablet is about the same pricepoint as a decent laptop (or desktop), it will be hard for most folks to justify the purchase. That said, they may be the right option for the older adult population that really just needs email and Internet access, with a few toys thrown in.

I'd like to see more security features, antivirus apps, and the aforementioned integration with Outlook calendaring. But it is very good.

More to come.