Open source enterprise content management (ECM) vendor Alfresco recently held its Customer Council and analyst day joint event in New York City. The event focused on two outcomes: customer success and maximizing the value of content. ECM is not just about creating a well-curated library of content – it must provide ready access to users, in context and as part of the business processes used to conduct day-to-day business.
ECM, meet BPM: I think you'll get along
It is this analyst's opinion that ECM is too often overlooked as part of the broader information management market; most often it is considered a regulatory headache as opposed to a business opportunity. There is no denying the heavy regulatory role played by ECM in many organizations, but the digital transformation projects changing (particularly B2C) businesses mean that the role data and content have to play is not just one of ticking boxes.
Alfresco CEO Doug Dennerline posed the question: "Is your content delivering maximum value?" And he highlighted customer examples (names under NDA, unfortunately) where effective use of digital assets for product launch, protection and efficient use of intellectual property, and sales enablement through availability of collateral, among others, were all high-value use cases enabled by Alfresco solutions. Senior executives at organizations the world over have seemingly recognized the value in data; that awareness must broaden to the very obvious value held in content, which can sometimes be forgotten.
Alfresco Activiti is the company's business process management (BPM) capability and one that logically belongs side by side with many of the core functions of ECM. The genesis of this logic lies in ECM's regulatory past; its future sustainability lies in the reliance on content to support evolving business models, for example, digital assets to support omnichannel customer communication. A question remains as to the integration with existing investments in organization-wide BPM, but it is my opinion that BPM integrated into the ECM solution is the obvious path of least resistance and likeliest adoption.
A word on the cloud: Like the overwhelming majority of enterprise IT, ECM has been making a move to the cloud. Alfresco is already available in the cloud and we received a peek at its future plans; because these included forward-looking statements, I'm not allowed to say much. But, I will say this: The plans very closely align with the approach I would suggest – providing flexibility of options to suit the myriad requirements associated with content.
Tom M. Pringle, Head of Applications Research, Ovum