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Documentum, FileNet & OpenText – should I stay or should I go?

We’re pleased to introduce a guest blog post from Dave Giordano, President and Founder of Technology Services Group, an Alfresco Strategic System Integrator and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Consulting Partner.  Dave is a technical architect and visionary with deep experience in enterprise content management.  He is widely regarded, having 21 years of experience with legacy ECM systems. In this post, Dave shares his thoughts on the dynamics happening in the ECM space and how customers can take advantage of modern technology and the cloud.

Technology Services Group (TSG) has multiple customers on “vintage” legacy ECM systems that have postponed go decisions for years.  With new capabilities for cloud dramatically reducing costs, many clients are reconsidering their stay decision.

Legacy ECM – If I go, there will be trouble, but if I stay it will be double

Legacy ECM customers, while never thrilled with support over the last 10+ years, often stay. Here’s why:

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – Building and moving content, integrations and processes can be costly and difficult. But if the legacy system breaks, can it be fixed? Particularly if the development on old technology was done by employees or consultants that are gone?
  • It’s already paid for – Moving requires additional funds. While true, at 25% maintenance, legacy ECM systems are repurchased every 4 years in addition to other expensive components in the ECM stack. lack of easy alternatives – Moving from a known commodity to something new requires explaining to why something is better than the product selected 10 to 20 years ago. The new alternative has to have both cost and technology advantages.

Documentum/OpenText

With the OpenText purchase of Documentum, we proposed three measurements to evaluate OpenText’s commitment to investing in Documentum:

  • Maintain talent – From talking to multiple ex-Documentum employees, ECD was cut by OpenText across all areas particularly focused on long-time Documentum resources. The cuts and attrition directly affect OpenText’s ability to invest in the core components of Documentum.
  • Invest in the future – From our keynote review of OpenText Enterprise World 2017, OpenText was focused on other initiatives around analytics and the OpenText cloud.  We would anticipate that any “investment” is really to upsell opportunities like a shared interface or add-ons.
  • Bring other positives – It is difficult to see how OpenText brings other positives to the Documentum install base. We would consider OpenText’s plethora of overlapping products more of a detriment to Documentum customers than a positive, particularly when it comes to partnering with cloud infrastructure leaders like Microsoft Azure and AWS.

OpenText is more focused on the “what’s next” in regards to analytics, robotics and their proprietary cloud rather than how Documentum (or OpenText Content Manager) would be improved.

Earlier this year, we updated our Alfresco vs Documentum comparison white paper, where you can get our analysis of how the two platforms stack up.

FileNet and IBM

Similar to Documentum, we surmised that FileNet might be sold by IBM.  IBM has treated FileNet as a “cash cow” within the IBM family of products for years.  The concern for FileNet customers and employees is the focus IBM has on the “new” and not on FileNet including:

  • Consulting – Should IBM improve FileNet or just sell consulting services to patch any issues or upsell to other products/services?
  • Cloud – IBM has been very focused on their cloud offerings. FileNet, and particularly legacy FileNet, isn’t really cloud friendly.
  • Box – IBM has a tight relationship with Box. Does the Box partnership take away from FileNet?
  • Watson – IBM is very focused on Watson.  Will FileNet get the right focus from IBM to innovate?

Adding cloud to the “Should I stay or should I go” decision

Moving to the cloud can provide infrastructure cost savings to more than justify the cost and effort of migrating.  Moving to the cloud can involve two types of platforms:

  • Software as a Service (SAAS) – a providers’ ECM cloud environment where the provider offers software and infrastructure maintenance. e., FileNet with IBM’s cloud or Documentum/OpenText with their own proprietary SAAS environment.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) –an infrastructure provider not just for ECM but for other corporate systems and environments. The client is still managing their infrastructure just with all hardware rentable in the provider’s cloud.  (example:  AWS and Microsoft Azure)

TSG has seen minimal ECM growth with SAAS while IAAS continues to expand rapidly.  Some thoughts on reasons include:

  • Growth and adoption – For a quick comparison, in 2016, Box (SAAS) had $300 million in revenue with a $100 million loss, AWS (IAAS) had $13 billion in revenue with a $3 billion profit.
  • Cost Concerns – Clients have found that over the long-term, SAAS isn’t really a cheaper option.
  • Lock-In Concerns – With a proprietary interface, clients are worried about the future of SAAS vendors and their long-term viability and product direction while holding onto clients’ documents.

Why OpenText and IBM will struggle with IAAS

In May, we wrote a post titled, Is a Large ECM Suite really that Sweet? It is not that FileNet, Documentum or OpenText couldn’t work on AWS or Azure, it is that IBM and OpenText would rather sell their cloud offering suite.  By default, an AWS or Azure alternative for IBM or OpenText is something less and discouraged.  During the OpenText keynote, OpenText viewed AWS or Azure as slightly better than on-premise and promoted their proprietary cloud.  IBM has a similar issue with IAAS providers.

Alfresco and AWS

TSG has been implementing Alfresco and AWS (10+ production clients) as a cost-effective alternative to legacy ECM:

  • Alfresco is “all in” with AWS – Alfresco focuses and invests on partnering and engineering their products and company to work better with AWS.
  • Alfresco is optimized for AWSAWS benchmarks, Alfresco connectors like S3, DB integration like Aurora DB as well as pre-built components and Alfresco AWS Quick Start make Alfresco on AWS installations easier and faster.
  • On-Premise or Cloud – Alfresco provides the same core components for both the cloud and on-premise providing alternatives for clients.

Summary – should I cool it or should I blow?

With the cloud, cost savings and rapid growth of Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) vendors like AWS, legacy ECM customers are considering cloud ECM alternatives.  While concern about the effort of moving documents and integrations to a new platform has in the past pushed clients to delay leaving, the cost savings and capabilities of AWS combined with Alfresco dramatically reduce costs and make the “should I go” dilemma that much easier.

Connect with Dave on Twitter to join the conversation about legacy ECM and moving to the cloud #alfresco #cloud #ecm.

CX is not UX – how digital threads can help deliver end-to-end customer experiences

This is the second of a three part series of guest blog posts on digital transformation from Neil Ward-Dutton, co-founder and Research Director at MWD Advisors. Neil recently talked to us about the power of ‘digital threads’, that utilise modern, open technologies to weave together organizational silos, in a recent webinar. You can watch ‘Connecting the Digital Threads: What’s Powering Digital Transformation in forward-thinking organizations?’ on-demand now.  Here, Neil examines how these digital threads can support the customer journey…

In the first post of this series, I highlighted how there are in fact two perspectives on digital transformation that are both important. The first is focused on transforming your technology estate to implement widespread adoption of digital technologies and platforms; and the second (less common) is focused on using digital platforms and technologies to change how change works.

In this second post I’m going to look at how the common entry point for digital transformation – customer experience improvement – drives the need to create ‘digital threads’, and what this means for the platforms you need in your business.

It used to be so easy: customers learned about products from suppliers’ in-store personnel, newspapers and magazines and their friends. If you wanted to buy something, you ordered it over the phone or went to a store to make the purchase. If you had a problem, you called the supplier or went back to the store. The balance of power was very much in favour of suppliers.

Knowledge and power have shifted to customers

Over the past decade the explosion in use of the World Wide Web – in multiple forms, across multiple networks and from multiple kinds of device – has shifted the availability of knowledge, and the balance of power that goes with it, very strongly towards the customer.

This knowledge shift has started to create big changes in customer research and buying cycles, and as a consequence any organization trying to sell products or services directly to customers now has to reassess how they engage and service customers’ needs. In the past, customers had to come to you in ways you specified, because you had the information that could help them get what they wanted. Now information is everywhere. Customers don’t have to engage with you in ways that you specify, and they don’t want to.

You have to go where customers want to be and engage with them in ways that make sense to them – across multiple online and off-line channels and venues. Why? Because globalization has put an end to sustainable competitiveness based on product /service price or features. Competing effectively today means considering broader customer experience issues. In addition, although customers are more demanding than they have ever been, it’s still easier to win business with existing customers than win new ones. Showing you care about customers helps you keep them as competition intensifies.

Customers’ experiences follow from the journeys they take

When trying to improve your customers’ experiences, trying to improve isolated interaction points is only going to take you so far. What can appear to be a series of one-off interactions from your perspective is actually part of a journey from your customer’s perspective – and that journey can be intensely frustrating for customers, even if individual interactions within that journey pass off without problems.

The concept of a “customer journey” is a great place to start if you want to enhance the customer experience at your organization – understand this and you can begin to deliver great customer experiences. Delivering great customer experiences means understanding that each customer journey needs to be seamless and natural.

The crucial thing to realise is that for almost any organization, customers’ journeys are not shaped solely – or even mostly – by the user experiences you enable through a corporate website or social network page. It’s seductive to focus principally on how people flow through online properties, because we have established site analytics tools that enable us to understand these flows. But the danger in doing this is that you quickly begin to slip back into ‘inside-out’ thinking – looking at the world from the perspective of your organization, rather than from the perspective of the customer.

At a high level a typical customer journey will have four major phases, each of which will probably have multiple elements within it: learn (about your product or service); buy; receive; and use. Additionally, it pays to consider other activities that are integral to customers’ end-to-end experiences and your ability to excel: get help (when things go wrong or the customer doesn’t understand something); and tell friends (about good or bad experiences).

You’ll see from this perspective that customer journeys will rely, either directly or indirectly, on capabilities and services provided across your marketing, sales, operations and customer services functions. In addition, each journey may well traverse multiple brands, venues, and channels. It may also include interactions with third parties (one trivial example would be interactions with delivery agents).

Customer journeys must be supported with ‘digital threads’

From an ‘outside-in’ (customer-focused) perspective, the key characteristic that shapes a seamless journey is integration – integration of the customer’s experience across the activities marketing, sales, operations and customer services teams; and integration across brands, venues, channels and so on.

However looking ‘inside-out’ the operational picture is never simple. A great many large, established organizations have spent at least a decade dispersing their operations across entities and locations: working through more and more specialised partners, creating shared-services centres, outsourcing functions, and so on. Even where globalisation hasn’t had a major impact on operations, though, it’s rare to find an organization’s operations that are aligned with a customer’s perspective and expectations.

This of course creates a massive tension. How do you create an integrated experience and drive great customer journeys, in the reality of your organization’s operations.

The answer is to work to digitise your operations with a modern digital business platform. This allows you to co-ordinate work and share knowledge at scale across locations, teams, and technology platforms – creating ‘digital threads’ that run right through your business, making sure you keep your promises to your customers and demonstrating that you operate within the bounds of industry regulations.

These digital threads will enable your people and systems to share the context and content they need to seamlessly support different stages of customers’ journeys – even as those journeys touch the capabilities of your marketing, sales, operations and customer services teams (and even perhaps teams from key partner organizations).

To return to our title: CX is not UX. Focusing on UX will take you a certain distance: but really considering end-to-end customer experience means looking at how your internal capabilities align and integrate across business functions – and then supporting that alignment and integration with a modern digital business platform.

In the last part of this series, I’m going to explore some of the other features and capabilities that a fit-for-purpose digital business platform needs to exhibit.

About Neil Ward-Dutton

Neil is MWD Advisors‘ co-founder and Research Director, and is one of Europe’s most experienced and high-profile IT industry analysts. His areas of expertise include business process management (BPM), enterprise architecture (EA), Cloud computing and digital strategy. Neil acts as an advisor to large organizations across a range of sectors and industries as diverse as FSI, retail, utilities and government, as well as to leading technology vendors. Neil was this year’s keynote speaker for the BPMNext Conference in Santa Barbara, CA.

You can watch Neil’s recent webinar for Alfresco ‘Connecting the Digital Threads: What’s Powering Digital Transformation in forward-thinking organizations?’ on-demand now.

Forbes Infographic: How Do Digital Leaders Think Differently?

Digital transformation requires organizations to rethink the way they leverage information technology, applying the principles of design, open and platform thinking to achieve success.

That’s according to a recent research study from Forbes Insights, in association with Alfresco. What’s more, the research uncovered that those forward-thinking ‘digital leaders’ are able to achieve higher EBITDA growth than their less digitally savvy counterparts.

The survey questioned 328 senior executives across a range of industries including Technology, Manufacturing, Government, Healthcare and Financial Services in North America and Western Europe. Eighty-six percent of respondents represented companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenue.

The infographic below provides a view of just some of the ways Digital Leaders are thinking differently. For a deeper dive into the research findings, download the Forbes and Alfresco White Paper, The Great Rethink: How Digital Leaders Are Building Tomorrow’s Organizations?.

7 Key Takeaways from the 2017 Alfresco Government Summit

On June 6 – well before the All-Star break – more than 200 public sector IT leaders met at the Washington Nationals baseball stadium to hear about digital transformation in the U.S. government. Despite being a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, I found the event at Nats Park to be a wonderful opportunity to touch base with peers, exchange ideas and learn about IT modernization best practices from an all-star lineup of speakers.

In case you missed the event, here are seven key takeaways.

Successful digital transformation starts at the top

Enlisting your heavy hitters is one key to victory with any IT modernization project. Alfresco CTO John Newton cited Forbes Insights research finding that the CEO or another key senior executive is three times more likely to lead digital transformation among best-in-class organizations who are making this shift.

This advice was echoed by other speakers including Tim Crawford, project manager for FOIAonline, who observed that “high-level support is essential” for success. Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, head of IT modernization efforts at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described it humorously as “what the boss likes, the employees are enamored with.”

Design thinking delivers better business results

Design thinking is a brand-new ballgame for many and drives better outcomes. Often, government employees struggle to find the information they need to do their jobs, driving down productivity. Simply digitizing existing systems without considering end user experience is not the solution. When put into practice, design thinking methodologies deliver solutions that put users first.

Mark Patrick, who leads the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s information management team, summed up the byproduct of design thinking as “workers being able to focus on working” versus struggling to use technology tools provided by IT.

Open thinking dominates today’s software industry

Projects powered by proprietary vendor solutions typically take years to get approved, accredited and deployed, often only to find out that they do not by then deliver what you and your users expected. They can also eat up as much as 80% of your budget in maintenance licensing costs and are prohibitively expensive to customize on an ongoing basis.

Embracing open technologies (based on open source, using open standards, with open APIs) allows you to tap into the collective brainpower of a community of thousands of developers and use proven components that can easily be integrated with existing systems and extended as needed. John Newton pointed out that even vendors such as Microsoft and Apple are turning to open source to accelerate innovation. He explained that open does not equate with less secure and that emerging technologies such as open source artificial intelligence are in fact safer than proprietary versions because no one vendor controls them.

Platform thinking accelerates the pace of IT modernization

An open platform with reusable service components allows you to build intelligent solutions that improve IT agility. Alfresco combines process automation, content management, and information governance services into a modular and highly customizable platform that eschews proprietary code.

Within the platform, distinct functions can be upgraded and scaled independently of each other. According to IT services provider Armedia, this approach also provides added security. It means that you can control access to each component, avoid exposing certain components to the outside, and secure data separately.

Agile methods mitigate modernization risks

Kim Tran of the Solutions Strategy team at the GSA described the steps required to break down monolithic systems. First, you must examine your legacy applications to determine exactly why such systems were built. You need to look at the entire portfolio and assess business functionalities versus core capabilities, as well as look for redundancies that can be decommissioned.

After identifying individual components that should be updated, taking on just that bit in quick sprints of two to six weeks enable you to confirm you’re on the right track by putting it in front of users and getting feedback. Progressive iterations allow you to quickly build your solution and scale as you break down your monolithic system into a microservices architecture. With each sprint lasting weeks instead of years, you can constantly revisit the functionality and acceptance of your application and eliminate the risk of catastrophic failure upon “final delivery”.

Effective governance is invisible governance

Records management that relies on users to manually classify content is doomed to low compliance and errors. Auto-classification is the only viable answer.

According to Armedia, “End users don’t want to think of RM; they are busy doing other things.” Connecting governance, together with process and content makes information governance invisible. Not only can classification rules be built into such a platform in an “if this, then that” sense – but when that platform is open, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms can be applied against an existing content repository to automatically declare and classify records.

Mark Patrick said that invisible information governance is essential because of the sheer volume of information that users handle. He added that “the goal is zero clicks on the part of the user.” Artificial intelligence is getting better all the time, performing tasks such as summarization (identifying the author of a document as being the same person who authored another document) and auto declaration.

Lisa Haralampus, director of RM policy at NARA, pointed out that “artificial intelligence is changing our profession, but you need to capture information in the first place or you cannot do analytics.” She added that “a measure of success means knowing what records you have created and having the right policies and tools. Good RM means identifying ROT (information that is redundant, obsolete and trivial) and getting rid of it. Maturity implies managing data access and disposition.”

The cloud is not only cost effective but also more secure

Mark Patrick encouraged government CIOs to step up to the plate, saying that “fear of the cloud is not justified. The cloud is, in fact, more secure.”

Accreditations such as FedRAMP take the guessing out of selecting a highly secure cloud solution. Many agencies have already made the move, including those in the intelligence community. Some even host their critical applications in the cloud ahead of non-essential systems in order to benefit from the additional layer of security. Dan Kasun, senior manager of public sector at AWS, remarked that “cost was perceived as the main benefit of the cloud. Today, security is one of the main arguments for choosing it.”

Navin Vembar discussed the GSA’s innovative Data-2-Decision system that is hosted in the cloud. He pointed out, “With the cloud, the infrastructure is already there, so you’re further along. You can use what you need and get more if required. You don’t need to worry about getting the wrong infrastructure because you don’t own it. You can go from capex to opex.”

Lisa Haralampus of NARA noted that “the cloud helps by bringing scalability; it is the future.”

Experiment with a proof of concept

In summary, the Alfresco Government Summit was packed with interesting information backed by in-the-field experience. Click here to download our Government white paper: Advancing the Digital Flow of Government Business.

Digital transformation is about the journey, not only the destination

This is the first of a three part series of guest blog posts on digital transformation  from Neil Ward-Dutton, co-founder and Research Director at MWD Advisors. Neil recently talked to us about the power of ‘digital threads’, that utilise modern, open technologies to weave together organizational silos, in a recent webinar. You can watch ‘Connecting the Digital Threads: What’s Powering Digital Transformation in forward-thinking organizations?’ on-demand now. Now, over to Neil…

Digital transformation is a subject on every executive’s lips – no matter what industry they’re in. Organisations from sectors as diverse as financial services, retail, utilities and logistics see the threats posed by new digital natives entering their marketplaces. They want to find ways to protect against those threats – while at the same time improving the experiences they deliver to customers, improving their operational efficiency and agility, and driving more innovation into their products and services.

However, even though a great many executives consider digital transformation as a top priority, in our research work we’ve found very little real agreement between executives – even between executives in the same organisation – about what ‘Digital transformation’ actually means.

Digital transformation: the what and the how

There are two ways to read the phrase ‘digital transformation’, and they’re both crucially important to understand:

  • Digital transformation is about the transformation of an organisation’s technology estate so that it takes maximum advantage of relevant digital technologies – to enable it to co-ordinate business resources as economically efficiently as possible. You can think of this as ‘transformation to digital’.
  • Digital transformation is about the transformation of an organisation’s end-to-end approach to using and gaining benefit from technology – using tools and techniques that have been proven to be effective in digital-native organisations. You can think of this as ‘transforming digitally’.

Very often, we see that organisations focus exclusively on the first bullet point above. They explore how they can adopt new technology platforms: looking at how to use cloud, mobile, social, big data and analytics technologies (with more new technologies seemly arriving every week).

This – the ‘what’ of digital transformation – is only one side of the story though. What’s more, it tends to lead organisations to the conclusion that digital transformation involves a ‘one and done’ program of work. The more fundamental side of the story is actually the ‘how’ of digital transformation; the second bullet above. Really grasping this makes organisations realise that digital transformation requires a much deeper systemic change.

The nature of change is changing

When we look at the change playbooks of digital natives, we see that they use strategies like these:

  • No more big bangs. Start small, and deliver demonstrable results quickly.
  • No more silos. Work collaboratively across team and department boundaries with common goals.
  • No more ‘we know what we want’. Experiment with new developments, using real data to understand the results of those experiments, and only further develop those options that are shown to be valuable by the data.
  • No more ‘build vs run’. Think like a product business when making technology-enabled business changes; don’t think about delivering projects, then hand the results over to completely separate support teams – but instead think about everyone working together to deliver product-like capabilities to the business with planned future release and feature roadmaps.

Digital natives use these strategies because they’re born from the perspective that change is constant, change must be embraced, and change must be fast and confident. We should all know why that perspective is valuable.

What digital natives are showing us is that in the era of digital resource abundance, the nature of business and technology change is itself changing. Organisations that are aggressively embracing digital technologies and platforms see change as needing to be continuous; part of ‘business as usual’. They see that change needs to be incremental and driven by experimentation, rather than being periodic and planned in isolation from operational reality.

Platforms for digital-era change

Digital natives operate their businesses on platforms that enable a virtuous cycle of instrumentation and optimisation. Digital-enabled products and services are instrumented and measured, revealing patterns of use and opportunities for improvement; customer interactions and operations are integrated, enabling seamless customer experiences; and the whole environment is managed so that changes can be made at scale, and quickly.

In other words: ‘digital native’ organisations build their business capabilities on digital platforms that enable them to do three core things in parallel, in an integrated way:

  • Build and deploy new capabilities quickly.
  • Measure what works and doesn’t work.
  • Make changes quickly, based on measurement and feedback.
The power of model-driven tools

Good ‘model-driven’, low-code application development platforms fulfil all these requirements, and also enable organisations to work collaboratively to achieve their goals.

Because they work from logical, usually visual, models of application behaviour – rather than requiring developers to write thousands of lines of code – the applications they deliver can be developed in the open, and collaboratively.

What’s more, making changes to the behaviour of applications – whether at the user experience, workflow, business rules or data management level – is easier to do with confidence, at scale and speed than it is if you rely on extensive custom coding.

If you’re seriously exploring how to enable real digital transformation in your organisation, a model-driven, low-code application development platform like this is a major asset. Many technology specialists may prefer to go their own way, using their own favourite collections of personal tools – but in situations like this, the results of their efforts will be difficult to sustain over time.

Model-driven, low-code tools make it easier to sustain productivity over time in the face of change; and what’s more, they enable broader sections of your organisation’s workforce to participate in design and development work intimately, because they don’t require anything like the same level of technical knowledge to understand and use.

In the second part of this series, we’ll look at how the common entry point for digital transformation – customer experience improvement – drives the need to create ‘digital threads’. In the last part, we’ll look at the technology requirements for digital business platforms that help to pull all this together.

About Neil Ward-Dutton

Neil is MWD Advisors‘ co-founder and Research Director, and is one of Europe’s most experienced and high-profile IT industry analysts. His areas of expertise include business process management (BPM), enterprise architecture (EA), Cloud computing and digital strategy. Neil acts as an advisor to large organisations across a range of sectors and industries as diverse as FSI, retail, utilities and government, as well as to leading technology vendors. Neil was this year’s keynote speaker for the BPMNext Conference in Santa Barbara, CA.

You can watch Neil’s recent webinar for Alfresco ‘Connecting the Digital Threads: What’s Powering Digital Transformation in forward-thinking organizations?’ on-demand now.

 

The ISV headache: Build it or Buy it? Meeting the Challenges of Software Feature/ Functionality Delivery

Embedding Alfresco Technology in Your Application as an OEM or White Label Partner

In this new blog series, we will focus on uncovering the unique challenges that software product and engineering executives face when building modern applications, and specifically how OEM licensing can help to address those requirements.

One recurring challenge for software product teams is the constant need to prioritize feature requirements based on customer demand, while struggling with finite development resources and limited time.  You need to stay focused on developing your core product while satisfying the critical needs of your most important customers.

Difficult Decisions: To Build or To Buy?

It comes as no surprise that product leaders are constantly weighing the pros and cons of building or buying the features they need to deliver.  If the features and functionality you need are outside your company’s core competency, building can lead to substandard user experiences and a constant race to stay ahead of expanding customer requirements.  Buying certainly has its own challenges, like unknown costs or the risk of being locked into a proprietary technology.

What are some of the most important considerations in a build vs. buy scenario?  Here’s what I’ve learned based on almost twenty years in the IP licensing business.

Build

  • Will it take longer and cost more than we expected? Features that aren’t core are always the first to be delayed and deprioritized.   You may not have the right talent or skill set to realistically build this.
  • What are you skipping in order to build? This could be a big distraction from your core product mission.  You may not want to keep building and supporting this – is it something you can commit to maintaining and enhancing to keep pace with the competition?
  • Can you build it fast enough to outpace and differentiate from our competition? Maybe this is not the optimal focus in terms of maximizing differentiation.
  • Can we stay ahead of customer requirements as they expand over time? It’s important to remember that today’s innovations are tomorrow’s table stakes.  Requirements are not static.

Buy

  • Will technology license costs be transparent and align with how you sell our application? You don’t want to be surprised by ballooning costs or be forced to adopt an arbitrary license model that introduces sales friction or administrative burden.
  • Is the licensed technology open or proprietary? Learning and supporting a new technology will impact time to market and operational costs.  A modern development environment and support for industry standards are critical to minimize integration costs.
  • Does the licensed technology give you the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements? It needs to support your strategy and roadmap, not just current tactical requirements.  For example, does the licensed technology make it easy to deploy your application in the cloud?
  • Is the technology extensible, making it easy to integrate with our application? It’s not just your own application, but also integrating with our customers’ environments.  Open APIs and support for modern container and microservices-based architectures might be key considerations.

In summary, it’s important to take a balanced approach when evaluating the pros and cons of build vs. buy.  Cost and time are key factors, but alignment with strategy is equally critical and can often get lost in the scramble to respond to constant customer and internal pressure.

In future posts, we’ll examine the challenges and considerations one by one in more detail. In the meantime, learn more about Alfresco’s OEM Licensing Program.

The Future of Content Management

It’s no secret, the state of the industry is changing; the industry is re-scoping itself and we are at the forefront of this new entity. The term ECM can no longer define the space.  Organizations are starting to transform themselves as digital enterprises and adopting technology as their strategic differentiator.

Gartner, Forrester and, just recently, AIIM set out to define this change and what the new industry would look like. Gartner believes that ECM is retired and will be replaced by the term “Content Services.” Forrester also believes that the market is moving towards Content Services, but split the market into two – 1) Transactional Content Services and 2) Business Content Services. AIIM has taken a different approach and believes that the industry is moving to, what they call, Intelligent Information Management where data and content live together and the problems that exist in organizations need to be solved by both data management and content management technologies.

What does Alfresco believe? What is the future of ECM look like to us? We believe that companies approaches need to be different. They way organizations will design their systems will be centered around how people AND information AND content become part of the ever-changing, ever-adaptable business process. They need to build an infrastructure where companies can react quickly and leverage data and insights to make decisions. Current system infrastructures can no longer cope with this agile approach, especially when organization move to the cloud. The future of Content Management boils down to four pillars – Data Information, Modular Architecture, Open Source and Movement to the Cloud. These 4 pillars are forcing a radical change to how companies are using technology as a differentiator.

Pitney Bowes’s Developer Hub and Capital One’s DevExchange, are just two example of how organizations are leveraging technology as a differentiator. They, both, have opened their APIs so other companies can find it easier to integrate and build solutions off their platforms. They are quickly transforming themselves as technology organizations and doing so, by leading with their developer community.

It is, nonetheless, an interesting time for our industry and an interesting time for organizations to redefine themselves through technology.

Delivering Superior Service to Ensure Continuous Customer Success

Demands for intuitive customer experience and instantaneous customer support pressure technology companies to either deliver or face abandonment. As recently seen in the airline industry, customers treated poorly results in social media uproar, with even Congress getting involved. While many support teams look to emerging technologies like chat bots to speed response times, quality and consistency is king in the world of support. I am incredibly proud that our team has continued to improve customer satisfaction scores for three years in a row. But high customer satisfaction scores are only part of a customer’s success story.  Customers enjoy the most success and realize the quickest time to value when great technology gets paired with exceptional service.  Our customer’s success has happened as a result of that great technology and the team members throughout the Customer Success organization who embrace our vision of Ensuring Continuous Customer Success and by staying true to a mission that’s focused on 3 things for our customers:

  1. Delivering outstanding results
  2. Providing world class experiences
  3. Ensuring quick realization of business value

As an organization, we reiterate this mission in every team meeting.  When we develop goals, they are centered around this mission, and when we have to make tough decisions, we ask whether the decision we’re making aligns to this mission.  If it doesn’t, we go back to the drawing board.

Alfresco is dedicated to customer success and delivering outstanding results and business value. Our support services are designed to help our customers get the most from their Alfresco investment and are specifically tailored to meet business needs.

We offer the highest level of customer support so that you can leverage our expertise and instead focus on what matters most to you – serving your own clients.

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8 extraordinary ways Digital Flow can help solve your digital transformation problems

Digital transformation. It’s a journey that every organization is on, to one extent or another, but few are seeing the promised results of new systems and processes they’ve implemented. Here at Alfresco, we think it comes down to having Digital Flow.

If you’re not seeing the results you expected from your digital transformation efforts, maybe you haven’t reached your flow state. The recently published Alfresco and Forbes eBook gives a great overview of what you can achieve.

Still not convinced? Here are 8 ways Digital Flow can speed you towards a better way of working:

1.     Digital Flow breaks down barriers

Digital Flow looks at things from both a process and an information point of view.

It’s making sure that silos are broken down and all disjointed parts of the organization are working coherently to a common purpose – whether that purpose is servicing customer requests or performing a compliance operation.

Digital Flow is all about connecting the dots inside the organization and making sure it doesn’t operate in silos.

2.    Digital Flow transforms more than just data

I think a common misunderstanding with an idea like Digital Flow is that a lot of people focus on the data – the CRM or the product databases. But there is a lot of information in the form of content and documents.

You can’t just look at certain aspects of your organization, you have to look at it as a whole. Digital Flow helps you understand all your unstructured content and discover how that interacts with your processes.

3.    Digital Flow gives you a wider perspective

Digital Flow and digital transformation are similar concepts. But where digital transformation quite often gets focused on the customer interaction, on the front end, Digital Flow extends way beyond the contact point with the customer, across the whole value chain.

It looks at the customer journey as a whole experience, not just from the website or the mobile phone or the call center. Whatever your entry point is, Digital Flow means working across all the touch points and making sure actions are followed up in a similarly digital manner all the way through the experience.

4.    Digital Flow is a way to plug gaps

Unsuccessful digital transformation means you end up having gaps. And gaps mean two things:

  1. They mean delays. Things get stuck on the way and you get lag on the process. There’s unnecessary frustration, chasing around to make things happen and following through to check if those things did happen.
  2. They create a lot of manual processes. Rather than a system driving an experience, you get things stuck in people’s email inboxes, with attachments that have to be processed and passed on to someone else. It wastes both time and valuable resource.

At the end of the day, gaps also frustrate the customer or the partner (or whoever the third party is) because the experience is not as good or efficient as it could be.

5.     Digital Flow is impartial to customers, suppliers or partners

It’s all part of the same concept. An organization is facing outwards. Facing outwards could be facing customers or it could be facing a supply chain, partners or an external legal group.

Interaction points with whatever sits outside that firewall, need to be digital and efficient.

On the customer side you’ve got the commercial aspects of trying to maintain customer loyalty and develop the relationship.

When it comes to third parties you also want to be flexible. You want to be able to add and remove partners when necessary, to build a fluid ecosystem that meets your needs better. That could be outsourcing parts of your own process or having commercial relationships with a third party.

6.    Digital Flow is a part of every department

It doesn’t start with IT, or the architects. They will have to deal with the implementation side of it, but you need to start from a business perspective.

The design thinking part of Digital Flow says how you do it isn’t relevant. You have to look at the journey of that interaction or that transaction holistically and ask, who is involved? Which departments are required? What is the expected behavior? Is it intuitive?

From there, you deduce what you need and how you orchestrate it. It has to start from the experience in, rather than from an architectural blueprint out.

7.     Digital Flow takes the long term view

If you try to do this from a technology perspective, it becomes too complicated. There are far too many moving parts to create a solution.

Digital transformation doesn’t start or end with technology. It has cultural implications, operational implications, organizational implications. It needs to be a whole business journey.

You need to have different groups accessing different information in different ways. Technology has a key role but it is an enabler, not the driver. The business has to come first.

The commitment and the ownership is more important that the technology implications.

What is also critically important, is that support for Digital Flow change, is built into the design. For Digital Transofrmation to succeed, the systems need to flex and change constantly. They need to adapt to new business models and fast fail cycles.

8.    Digital Flow is a cultural shift more than a technology investment

It’s a question of believing in it, and thinking in a different way by applying design thinking. And then translating that, on the architect’s level, to the open thinking and platform thinking that supports that to be able to deliver it.

Effective digital transformation is simple when you have Digital Flow. To find out where you can begin your journey, download the Forbes eBook.