Last week not only marked the one-year anniversary of this blog, but it was also the week of the Empower conference, Laserfiche’s annual Enterprise Content Management (ECM) event. As usual, bringing together a couple thousand Laserfiche users in one place had a heck of an effect, and not only in the amount of orange people wore. We learned a bunch of things, too.

Mobile is a Thing: Compared with last year, it was astonishing to see how many attendees sported smartphones and tablets, as opposed to laptops. This shift also demonstrated one of the biggest problems with mobile devices: People huddled around charging stations trying to coax a few more minutes of life out of their precious devices. (One enterprising guy brought an extension cord with him to classes so he could get plugged in even several rows back.)

Another problem? The plethora of mobile platforms. People with Blackberrys and Windows tablets bonded over their mutual rejections and assured each other that they really had made the right choice and the world would catch up with them eventually, while people who didn’t have microUSB or standard Apple chargers found themselves also left out in the cold, unless they’d brought their own chargers with them.

Workflow is a Thing: At last year’s conference, a lot of people were still talking about the mechanics of scanning documents and building repositories. This year, that was pretty much taken as a given, with attendees talking offhandedly of various ways of dealing with that problem and instead focusing on how to use workflow to streamline processes and save money. People who already had little ECM islands in their organizations talked about how they’d spread it to other processes or groups within their organizations.

Social media is a Thing: Upon learning that people who Tweeted with the hashtag #Empower14 would be eligible for a free “I <heart> Laserfiche” t-shirt, the Twittersphere exploded with people Tweeting what they were learning that day — to the extent that #Empower14 was actually a trending hashtag during the Wednesday keynote. This also meant the spammers started picking it up- – a true sign of success.

The conference also featured Twitter boards that showed what people were Tweeting about at that moment, which meant that everyone got to see the “Run Smarter” Snuggie (Photoshoppped, unfortunately) and agree on what a great idea it would be, especially considering the Arctic conditions that prevailed in many of the rooms. Finally, a Twitter Web-based interface meant that even people who hadn’t started using Twitter yet had the opportunity to send Tweets and participate in the conversation. It will be interesting to see how many of them will take the plunge and get their own accounts. 

Community is a Thing: One of the trends in IT recently has been the notion of “community,” or working together with other users on best practices, support, and other ideas. Between the new online community, industry and regional user groups, and an increasing number of Solution Exchange posts, both online and in published book form (with more to come), attendees were soaking in it, and still looking for more. Haven’t heard much about community as a concept? We’ll be writing about it more soon.

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