This past weekend Team Adlib (including, perhaps unwisely, myself) hit the streets as part of the Ride to conquer cancer.  It was an epic effort that raised over $19 million for cancer. 

This 200km ride was Quite the Effort. For some (namely our CEO Peter Duff

Peter Duff

and CFO Henri Burmeister)

Henri Burmeister

 I'm sure this was a cake walk. For me however – a weekend warrior maxing out at 50Km rides and having trouble climbing the stairs to the office – this 400% increase was a painful, if perhaps foolish, challenge. But at least it was for a very good cause! 

In between hills and straights, bagel breaks, and sunscreen stations, I had lots of time (13 some odd hours on the saddle!) to think about things. And of course, riding in my Team Adlib jersey (pic), my thoughts turned from cycling... to... content. Now maybe it was the heat exhaustion, or the glycemic drop... but I had a few realizations… 

- It’s (not) as easy as riding a bike: People use this phrase referring to things that are easy, unremarkable, and forgettable. Sadly this is often just like making a PDF. As I’ve learned though there’s a lot more to both items. Sure you could ride a steel 10-speed fixed-gear, never shifting gears... or you could ride a carbon fiber road bike, clip-in pedals, with Shimano Dura-Ace group, and disc brakes.

Ride boneshaker

Similarly... You could “print to PDF” or hope your users have good shareware. OR you could use fully ECM-integrated, high fidelity, OCR-enabled, watermark-able, automated document conversion.

As in life, you get what you pay for – shareware versus enterprise grade server software. And my old bike versus my new one.

- Size Matters: Look, even for me, it's easy to ride 2 kilometers alone in the park. What’s really hard is to do that for 200Km, over dozens of hours with 5,000 other cyclists. It’s is a totally different scale. You need different muscles, different gear, and a different strategy. You need to pace yourself, avoid bottlenecks, hydrate and refuel regularly, and avoid 2-tonne blocks of steel and plastic with caffeine- and sugar-enraged operators who hate or at least dislike, cyclists.

Similarly it’s easy enough to PDF a single doc... any idiot – myself included – can lock down a resume or recipe without much trouble. But when you need to process 1 million insurance claims, submit 1,000 page pharmacological studies, or update a mission-critical safety operation manual in multiple languages on a daily basis… it’s a very different challenge. On the back end you need to deal with load balancing, workflow, redundancy, backups, and integration. On the front end there are issue of compliance, branding, fidelity, and more. Make sure you know what race you’re riding (or rendering) in!

- There’s no I in Team: Although cycling may seem an individual sport, as I learned there’s a significant group effort involved. Your local bike store provides tune ups and specialized gear…  Team Adlib helped with my training schedule… and the Cancer Society supported my fundraising initiatives. On the ride cyclists let me draft for small stretches… citizens cheered me on… and my colleague Jeff Brand even gave me his last energy boost drink to get me past the wall and on to the next station. 

Similarly with document conversion projects – it’s not about an individual. It doesn’t matter that you can convert your document. What matters is that organizational assets are controlled… that material is available long-term… that content can be shared regardless of repository or viewer. IT needs to engage with business users… end users need to work with quality managers… ECM administrators need to connect with CRM leads and ERP vendors… and most important – if you’re going to be successful in riding 200Km or implementing an efficient, reliable, high fidelity, content transformation solution – you need to have the support of experienced experts who have been there before… experts like the rest of Team Adlib. 

Team Adlib 2013