Alfresco stated at its recent combined Alfresco Customer Council and analyst day that there is tight integration between its enterprise content management (ECM) and business process management (BPM) products. Having added a BPM product (Alfresco Activiti) to its product portfolio, Alfresco is understandably keen to highlight the close relationship between the two technologies. However, overemphasis on this relationship could deter use of Alfresco Activiti as a standalone product.
By providing tight integration between its ECM and BPM products, Alfresco is addressing a requirement of organizations for content-centric processes or to support processes that generate content that needs long-term management and control. Most of the large tier-one ECM vendors have also addressed this by acquiring BPM vendors or building their own BPM capabilities to enable organizations to build processes that combine content stored in ECM repositories with transactional data and line-of-business applications. This is seen in the rise in case management solutions available from these vendors and their partners that target specific vertical industries and horizontal tasks. However, ECM and BPM are still very different technologies and there are many processes that do not involve content or require integration with an ECM system. The ECM vendors that have acquired BPM products have an additional revenue line by continuing to sell these products standalone.
Alfresco has included Activiti as a workflow engine within Alfresco One (the ECM platform) to allow organizations to easily address content-centric processes. But, due to customer demand, Alfresco has recently released Alfresco Activiti as a separate commercial open source BPM solution that can be deployed to address process-centric applications. This allows Alfresco, its partners, customers, and the community to build business applications to target specific vertical industries such as government, banking, insurance, healthcare, and manufacturing.
Alfresco is in a strong position to build a portfolio of pre-built solutions for a wide range of vertical industries, either directly or through its growing partner base. It is already being deployed to replace larger proprietary ECM products and to displace the more traditional BPM platforms in enterprises, and this is a great opportunity for Alfresco to increase its market share using the growing demand for case management solutions in enterprises.
Alfresco Activiti can also be deployed as a standalone BPM platform, which is an additional revenue stream, but if Alfresco emphasizes the integration between ECM and BPM too heavily, it is in danger of deterring organizations from deploying Alfresco Activiti standalone.
Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting an Enterprise Content Management Solution, 2015–16, IT0014-003055 (September 2015)
Sue Clarke, Senior Analyst, Information Management
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