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Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago

The Art of Possible with the New Alfresco Digital Business Platform

During AWS Summit keynote this week (April 19) in San Francisco, Dr. Werner Vogels talked about giving their users/customers Super Powers, with the first and a really important one being the Supersonic Speed. As we partner closely with AWS, this Supersonic Speed is very much aligned with what Alfresco Digital Business Platform delivers to our customers, which is the time to value.

The opportunities to make business flow faster, more seamlessly and more intelligently are endless with Alfresco Digital Business Platform. Seeing is believing, so we built a live demo of the Alfresco platform automating a vehicle maintenance process in combination with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Echo & Alexa, Twilio and Decooda.

The demo showcases how customers can use Alfresco’s flexible open source platform to quickly and easily:

  1. Integrate with other microservice architecture and technologies, and
  2. Build, deploy, and modify any solutions that involve business critical processes and content to shorten time to value in delivering a truly innovative digital customer experience
Car Trouble? Talk to Echo

In the demo, the customer asks Alexa to schedule a service for his car. The request kicks off a process within Alfresco that automatically books an appointment at the dealership. Twilio, a mobile communication service integrated with Alfresco, sends a text message confirming the appointment.

The service technician then uses an application built with the Alfresco Development Framework to track service bookings and complete a service record. After the technician fills out a service report, the system automatically messages the customer that his car is ready for pickup.

The system also prompts the customer for feedback on the repairs, which is analyzed by Decooda, a customer sentiment analysis solution. If Decooda flags the response as negative, the application will trigger a workflow that automatically follows up to make sure the customer’s concerns are addressed.

How It All Works

This demo shows how companies can build a new digital experience for customers and employees that is backed by automatic, seamless information flows. In this use case, the business processes are modeled and run using Alfresco Process Services. All the content generated (service report, voice message, extracted metadata) are stored and managed by Alfresco Content Services. The entire flow can be modified quickly and easily to improve the customer experience and it’s simple to integrate new or different microservices technologies. Alfresco on AWS enables rapid configuration and deployment of these types of digital business solutions.

For a deeper technical dive on the demo, see this blog.

Now, It’s Your Turn

This is just one example of what’s possible with the Alfresco platform, which can be quickly configured to automate many other business processes. Our AWS Quick Start provides you ready-to-deploy production grade template along with deployment guide so you can take advantage of building powerful solutions using Alfresco on AWS.

A Platform for Continuous Strategic Differentiation

The car demo is fun, but it’s about much more than just how a digital auto repair business can build better customer relationships. Your organization too can evolve into a true digital business that uses technology to achieve a strategically differentiated relationship with your customers.

The flexibility of the Alfresco platform and its streamlined process modeling, content management, information governance and integration capabilities enable continuous strategic differentiation. As the platform reveals more insights into what your customers want, it can be put back to work on iterating the next version of the digital business. The time to value is striking and your organization is positioned to remain in the competitive forefront.

The Perfect Storm Enabling Digital Transformation

I have been talking a lot lately about Alfresco’s modern approach to digital transformation.  I see a lot of momentum in the market driven by a few converging factors, namely:

  1. Organizations of all types wanting a better customer/constituent experience,
  2. Brittle legacy platforms’ inability to be nimble/agile to deliver that experience, and
  3. Movement to IaaS providers from traditional on-premises data centers for related agility and cost reasons.

I really see this as the “perfect storm” of market dynamics contributing to our growth, and it’s that 3rd point that I wanted to provide another proof point on today.

As noted in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Content Management –  Business Content Services, Q2 2017 report, we have been using our partnership with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) team to make it easy to deploy Alfresco on AWS.  As the only provider of Content Services listed in the AWS Quick Start directory, we believe this really highlights our differentiation, power and openness in supporting these types of process, content and compliance-centric use cases.  I love how an AWS Quick Start provides guidance to provision a full production-ready instance in just a handful of clicks in about 40 minutes.  With over 3,500 downloads of the current Quick Start guide in the first couple of months, we think this is good validation from our ecosystem that we are headed in the right direction.

Our commitment to making it easy for our users to utilize Alfresco on AWS continues today as the latest version of the AWS Quick Start for Alfresco Content Services was posted.  This latest release deploys Alfresco Content Services 5.2 in an AWS VPC and includes native support for AWS Aurora RDS.  This is a powerful combination as using Aurora, which was “born in the cloud” was used in the billion document benchmark, provides a great combination of scale and simplicity that I believe many of our customers will appreciate.  Many of the technical details are outlined in the reference architecture or you can also get a summary from the AWS Quick Start team blog post.

Due to the inherent openness of Alfresco, while we can be deployed in a variety of environments, we have a bias towards AWS, based on customer preference and our own depth in the platform for many years.  This updated AWS Quick Start is a great progress that continues building on the following traction that Alfresco and AWS are having in the marketplace:

  • Our billion document benchmark and reference architecture which ran on the Amazon Aurora database,
  • The recent news on providing the tooling needed to run on AWS,
  • The early access program for Alfresco as a managed service in an AWS VPC
  • We see a lot of traction across our customer base, and in Public Sector in particular and are happy to be part of the AWS Public Sector Partner Program.

I am happy to show innovation like this to make it easier to leverage the power of Alfresco + AWS as I really think this combination just adds more power to the “perfect storm” that is facing our industry.   I urge you to get started today and check out the latest AWS Quick Start for Alfresco Content Services.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how Alfresco may help your journey towards Digital Transformation so drop me a note anytime if you think it’s an area we can help.

Enjoy!

Infographic: 6 Signs Your Legacy ECM is Holding You Back

You know that your legacy Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system is no longer flexible enough to help your business meet its strategic goals. But the headache of replacing your legacy system and migrating all that content keeps you from doing what you know needs to be done.  Does that sound familiar?

But according to AIIM, the organization run by and for information professionals, outdated software is holding back enterprises from achieving key business outcomes. It’s putting you at risk. And they say it’s actually costing you more than a new system.

Despite the availability of modern, open solutions, many organisations still rely on ageing systems to manage their information. Frequently, these legacy systems are grounded in architecture unsuitable for the modern era and don’t meet the demands of today’s workforce.

AIIM say that there are six signs it’s time to move on from your legacy ECM and have put together this summary of them in the infographic below.

Want to learn more? Read the whole story by downloading the AIIM Cost of Standing Still eBook now.

Always Open, Always Innovating: Why Our Approach Continues to Gain Industry Recognition

A little over a year ago, I wrote how Alfresco has been working to address a big opportunity in the enterprise software market: being at the intersection of content, process, governance and apps. I also wrote that the best was still yet to come: we are placing a lot of muscle behind new product releases that further showcase our modern, open, modular, developer- and cloud-friendly approach.

Today strikes a particularly high note for the company, with some of the best industry minds, in our opinion, validating our approach. Alfresco has been named a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Content Management –  Business Content Services, Q2 2017 evaluation. We have also been named in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Content Management – Transactional Content Services, Q2 2017 as a Strong Performer.

Because I am able to talk with so many forward-thinking organizations, I don’t find it surprising that Forrester and other analyst firms keep saying that ECM disruption will accelerate. I see proof in the market every day.  Consider that a commissioned global survey of IT professionals, conducted by Forrester Consulting last year on Alfresco’s behalf, uncovered a sharp divide between the expressed need of enterprises to undergo digital transformation and their ability to accelerate that transformation. The authors of the “Break Down Content and Information Silos to Accelerate the Flow of Work” study highlighted that the convergence of content and processes is a critical linchpin to a successful digital transformation. Those that complete that transformation will become “digital predators” – but those that fail will become “digital prey.”

The increased need for organizations to avoid falling “digital prey” is contributing to the ECM market evolution and Alfresco is uniquely positioned to help organizations capitalize on this critical change. We believe our appearance in both segments of the latest Forrester Wave for ECM illustrates that our investments to strengthen the depth and breadth of our platform and to help more partners deliver digital business solutions across multiple vertical industries, is paying off.

Take the example of one of the largest digital banks in the U.S., which in 2015 initiated a sweeping technology overhaul that included giving up on their existing company-wide approach to content management. That legacy, inflexible ECM system wasn’t working for them. No one could agree on a uniform experience, and they couldn’t get themselves on-boarded on time.

The bank unit sought to increase efficiency, enable new digital interactions and support a more client-focused way of doing business. They wanted to “wrap the bank around the client, not the client around the bank.”

In 2016, the bank launched a SaaS digital document management product, powered by Alfresco Content Services running on Amazon Web Services The product now enables a complete view of documents across all commercial lines of business – from any application. The solution supports end-to-end digital transactions that transform how the bank operates and engages clients.

The bank credits the open APIs provided by the Alfresco architecture that satisfies diverse requirements, including meeting regulatory obligations, minimizing deployment risks, and a single access point for all digitized documents.

This customer example – and many others – demonstrate that Alfresco is way past simple document collaboration: our robust capabilities and mature platform offer deeper digital process automation, case management across multiple use cases, and the enablement of efficient mission-critical processes.

While the market continues to transition, and players contort inside closed boxes that don’t meet the needs of tomorrow’s digital enterprises, we believe we will continue to help customers that want more business insights from their structured (and unstructured) content and associated business processes. We believe we have the right digital platform that allows customers address their incredibly complex content, process, and compliance needs.

Why? Because Alfresco delivers both business content and transactional content services – with an open, modern, modular, developer-and cloud-friendly approach.

See what the Forrester reports say for yourselves and get a copy of The Forrester Wave™:  Enterprise Content Management – Business Content Services and The Forrester Wave™:  Enterprise Content Management – Transactional Content Services Q2 2017 reports. Download both Forrester Waves here.

If your organization is looking to push the boundaries of the definition of “content” and how it’s used to drive digital business, please go to Alfresco’s website at www.alfresco.com.

 

 

 

New York Philharmonic Digital Archives – Preserving 175 years of history with Alfresco

This is a guest post from Dave Giordano, President and founder of Alfresco partner, Technology Services Group.  Dave is a technical architect and visionary with deep experience in enterprise content management.  He is widely acknowledged for his expertise and shares his thoughts on the technology behind the Leon Levy Digital Archives.

Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and the third oldest in the world. As such, the Philharmonic’s Leon Levy Digital Archives is one of the oldest and most important orchestral research collections in the world. It traces the entire history of the Philharmonic and its more than 15,000 performances around the globe and is an important record of cultural history in New York City and beyond.

The 2016-2017 season marks the 175th anniversary of the New York Philharmonic.  Starting in 2009, the Philharmonic set a goal to preserve and make accessible worldwide over 160 years American Culture Heritage with the creation of the Digital Archives.  The Philharmonic is one of the first institutional repositories to embark on a digitization project of this size and scope with the intent of making all digitized material available to anyone anywhere in the world. In order to complete the project, New York Philharmonic needed a highly scalable document management system that could handle heavy daily use while continuously streaming large volumes of data. The solution needed to be cost-effective, handle large files and have strong digital asset management capabilities.

When the project began, picking a robust repository was a major driver for the implementation effort and the team made the easy choice of Alfresco.  TSG was added to the team in 2010 based on our migration experience and, “NY Phil” as we like to call them, remain one of our favorite clients and with one of the most innovative uses of Alfresco.  The first phase of Digital Archives included:

  • Digitization of 1.3 million pages including 3,300 programs, 8,000 folders and business records, 4,200 glass lantern slides, 8,500 photographs; and 72 scrapbooks of fragile press clippings.
  • All files uploaded to Alfresco with 10 million notes and 5 Terabytes of data.
  • Due to the high quality of the documents (Color high-resolution scans), the eventual archives could include as much as two Petabytes.

The success of the NY Phil team, TSG and Alfresco resulted in the New York Philharmonic Digital Archives being named the 2012 Alfresco Implementation of the Year.  The digital archives provide the perfect example of how open source technologies can be leveraged to create a robust and scalable enterprise solution: using OpenMigrate for high volume content ingestion, OpenAnnotate for face tagging, Solr for faceted search, and Alfresco as the central repository. These technologies make up the key architectural components driving its success.

Although the NY Philharmonic Digital Archives may not be considered your “typical” ECM client, best practices can be gleaned regardless of industry and content management needs.  Leveraging Alfresco as a content platform allowed the digital archives to easily expand with additional content types, metadata, and media formats.  All digital archive content is also accessible via REST-based services, which will allow other NY Philharmonic sites to easily incorporate digital archive content in future phases.

In its first four months, the Digital Archives received 47,800 visits, 34,000 of those unique. 5,264 visitors returned to the site nine or more times, and 885 of those returned 100 or more times. Leonard Bernstein’s Mahler Ninth score had been viewed nearly 25,000 times.

Those interested in seeing the success of the effort can simply look online at http://archives.nyphil.org/

TSG and Alfresco are excited to wish the New York Philharmonic congratulations on their current anniversary and continued success in the future.  Additional information available in a detailed TSG case study and an Alfresco success story and video.

Alfresco Process Services 1.6 powered by Activiti: driving seamless digital flow

Yes, Alfresco Activiti has a new name: Alfresco Process Services powered by Activiti

We recently announced our new Digital Business Platform which combines Process, Content and Governance services, along with a new Application Development Framework (ADF) for rapid development of engaging user interfaces (UIs). Alfresco Process Services 1.6 can still be used on its own and the new name better reflects its role in new modern microservice enterprise architectures. So what’s new?

Alfresco Process Services 1.6 product screenshots.

Streamlining end-to-end content-centric processes

With Alfresco Process Services 1.6, it’s now even easier to build case management solutions with Alfresco Content Services, where documents are a central part of the value chain. A good example is a contract lifecycle management solution: Alfresco Process Services can not only drive the business process and automatically generate the contract based on collected information, but also automatically store it in the appropriate folder in Alfresco Content Services along with all the vitally important metadata such as customer reference, amount, date, product(s), etc.

This automatic categorization allows any authorized user to benefit from all the content capabilities of Alfresco Content Services such as advanced search, smart folders, business rules, encryption, records management and compliance. With the process engine driving the flow of business activities and the content system managing all of the structured and unstructured related content, organizations leveraging these combined Alfresco capabilities are able to achieve higher levels of efficiency and visibility for their end-to-end business processes.

Thanks to the openness and extensibility of the Alfresco Digital Business Platform, contracts can be accessed from multiple systems such as Salesforce (using the Alfresco connector), your custom-built application using Alfresco open RESTful APIs or any other existing content system supporting the CMIS open standard. For quicker implementation, existing Alfresco Content Services content models can now be directly imported and used in Alfresco Process Services.

Simplifying RESTful APIs access across the entire platform

Alfresco Process Services 1.6 provides an out-of-the-box OAuth2 Authorisation Server as a microservice ready to be used. This microservice allows the use of OAuth 2.0 tokens to access Alfresco open RESTful APIs for Process, Content and Governance Services.

At the same time, we have added to the existing Spring Security extensibility support for leveraging any other OAuth 2.0 authorization servers. This includes servers such as Ping Identity, Azure Identity Services, AWS, or SiteMinder making it easy to provide enterprise SSO capability for your REST-based applications and integrate your solution within the existing environment.

Integrating with your microservice architecture

An Alfresco Docker image is now available on the official public repository. You can run the default container locally on your machine or remotely. You can also configure your own environment adding application properties and using Docker Compose or Kubernetes. Kubernetes offers production-grade orchestration container environment and simplifies the deployment of Alfresco Process Services as part of an enterprise microservices environment. We provide some examples for defining and running multi-container Docker applications and offer varying degrees of decoupling (core process, process database repository, indexing and event streams).

Continuously enriching developer experience

If you want to quickly discover and evaluate the out-of-the-box REST APIs provided with the Alfresco Digital Business Platform, we have published a public APIs explorer page based on Swagger. We have also made the Swagger user interface available locally to help developers, to efficiently consume and test the Process Services REST APIs.  

We added support for RAML, which provides metadata for solution architects and developers  to integrate with your favorite development tooling such as the MuleSoft API Designer and the free open-source Atom-based API Workbench.

We also enhanced the developer experience for consuming RESTful APIs in the process design. In addition to the existing interactive data structure mapping of the REST task, we have added a templated option with syntax highlighting and validation for REST POST bodies. This simplifies the construction of complex REST POST bodies using JSON and Activiti’s familiar expression language offering support for nested hierarchies and iterators.

Configurable security & advanced control

In addition to systematic third-party pen tests that are performed prior to each release, Alfresco Process Services 1.6 includes new and improved controls to help Solution Architects and Administrators fine tune security to meet their needs and prevent malicious abuse of the flexibility Process Services provides. These include:

  • REST endpoints and design resources permissions are now governed using a new role-based access control mechanisms
  • User-defined scripts tasks & expressions control through execution sandboxing that can be turned on and off
  • Secure scripting that prevents access to underlying platform capabilities or infinite loops in scripting using configurable settings
  • Beans execution control through configurable whitelisting including class-name level, wildcard whitelisting. Allowing administrators to define what developers can access during execution
  • User password policies through configurable settings for lengths and pattern-based constraints
  • Authentication cookie rules through configurable time-to-live and removal.
User experience

A new iOS Mobile app for both iPhone and iPad devices is now available on the App Store. With the existing Android App, it provides an out-of-the-box solution to enable your mobile workforce.

We’ve made enhancements to end user experience including task collaboration where a caseworker can now directly invite a group of users to collaborate on a task.

Finally, we’ve added four new languages: Norwegian, Simplified Chinese, Brazil-Portuguese, and Russian.

What to find out more about Alfresco Process Services 1.6? Visit Alfresco documentation.

Celebrating 25 Years of Content and Process Management

I was greatly humbled and honored last week, to be inducted to AIIM’s Company of Fellows as Fellow #215, following in the footsteps of our own John Newton (Fellow #206) and many other leading figures in the ECM industry that I have counted as friends and mentors over the years. The award was presented by AIIM’s President and CEO, Peggy Winton, during their 2017 Conference in Orlando, FL.

Peggy Winton welcomes George Parapadakis into the AIIM Company of Fellows

For those of you that may not know, AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) is the primary association for the ECM Industry. The AIIM Company of Fellows, established in 1963, honors those individuals in the association who merit recognition and distinction for their outstanding contributions to the ECM industry.

I have been an AIIM member since 1995. Over the years, I’ve been involved in a lot of AIIM thought leadership activities, from presenting at conferences, running local events, facilitating round-table discussions, reviewing their training materials, to writing articles for both the original AIIM magazines and, more recently, Social Media and blogs.

AIIM has been an anchor point for networking within the ECM community. I have made many professional friends through AIIM, and it’s usually my first port of call for understanding the continuous transformation our industry is going through.

Alfresco has also had a great relationship with AIIM for several years, with John being an AIIM Board Member and Chairman, and with continuous marketing and sponsorship engagements.

This award, apart from giving me immense personal pride, also signifies the next chapter in this long-standing relationship: Our industry is constantly redefining itself and, as we are moving from the world of ECM to a Digital Business Platform which supports Digital Transformation, I look forward to working closer with AIIM continuing to bring both my own, and Alfresco’s thought leadership to the fore.

To learn more about how modernising your legacy ECM can reduce business risk, download AIIM’s latest eBook here.

Alfresco’s New Digital Business Platform: An Open Framework for Streamlining the Flow of Business

The last few weeks have been quite busy here at Alfresco.  We started February off with Alfresco Day in New York City, where it was great to have some of our major customers on stage from CapitolOne and FINRA present their process and content use cases and how they use Alfresco.  Those use cases really show the value of content + process together, and the importance of security, governance and agility as they are both in financial related industries, at huge scale, both running on AWS.  We also had a day with the Analyst community and we shared our vision of the future and had some great dialog about the drivers of “digital transformation” across the industry.  In addition, more great dialog and information sharing at our Customer Council where leaders from across the industry shared their views and needs. Some of the characteristics of applications needed and built to power digital transformation include being task-centric, content rich, UX focused, intuitive, simple, mobile first, fast, responsive, cloud-provisioned, part of a larger connected business process and other digital services, measured and optimized to usage, performance and connectedness through analytics and intelligence.  Phew!, that’s a lot to consider.

Modern times need a modern approach, and for those organizations that want better customer engagement, efficiency and agility while controlling their journey towards “digital transformation”, this is where Alfresco can help.  I think this release of the Alfresco Digital Business Platform deserves a deeper look.  So far, the results from our early access users have been very positive.  This is a big step in a journey that will never end, because competitive threats, regulatory changes, market conditions, and the emergence of new enterprise technologies (such as the rise of cloud computing and IoT) will also never end.

However, there is one thing that will never change: the imperative to serve customers, employees and grow the business. The only way to meet that imperative – in the face of never-ending digital disruption – is to adopt open technology architectures that can offer both flexibility and intelligent insights.

To that end, Alfresco has unveiled a new Digital Business Platform: an agile and completely open platform that allows the rapid development of intelligent process, content and information governance solutions. Our new Digital Business Platform eliminates the old school (or old skool as the hip kids say), siloed “where’s-my-information” or “I-need-to-start-this process” mindset.

Instead, we’re handing CIOs and IT teams the “keys to the kingdom” to creatively solve process, content and information governance problems in an integrated manner. Highlights of the new open, modular platform include:

  • Application Development Framework & Modern UX: Using modern UX and UI technologies (including Google Material Design and pre-built AngularJS components), Alfresco’s Application Development Framework provides a rapid experience for building businesses solutions. IT teams can develop applications iteratively while maintaining a consistent user experience.
  • An Open Source Core: The Digital Business Platform supports open standards and exposes process, content and governance services via open RESTful APIs. Alfresco’s open-source roots have long been the ‘secret sauce’, giving customers endless configuration options and the ability to tap into more than 30,000 developers.
  • Key Extensions & Integrations: Integrations with leading applications such as Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Salesforce and more, ensure that content is accessible within the context of existing applications you already use.
  • Flexible Deployments – including native AWS options – The platform can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud or in hybrid-cloud environments. For enterprise customers increasingly turning to Amazon Web Services (AWS), we are the only ECM provider to offer an AWS Quick Start – a production-ready reference deployment to spin up Alfresco One in the cloud in literally minutes vs. days.
  • Enterprise-Grade Security & Scale: Whether managing billions of documents or having high-throughout, intensive processes, Alfresco’s modular architecture provides resilience and scalability both on-premises and in the cloud.

Rather than focusing on just processes, content, or records in isolation, the heart of the Digital Business Platform is intelligence. It starts with smart automation, capture and the ability to add context to information. Alfresco users can then act on that context through intelligent, adaptable processes, via indexing of all actions taken on content and at every stage of a process.

Those that lack the freedom to take advantage of information and processes in context often feel the pain, through significant costs. Consider, for example:

  • Inefficient coordination of benefits (COB) processes add $800M in administrative expense to the U.S. healthcare system every year (source: CAQH);
  • Slow or ineffective client on-boarding results in $5M to $10M in loss per year at one global bank; another loses up to 5% of overall deals (source: Forrester);
  • In government, the US government received more than 700,000 FOIA requests in FY2015. With each request requiring approximately $1,200 and 30 hours to process (source: Armedia), that amounts to $856 million and 21 million hours.

As our founder and CTO, John Newton, recently pointed out in Forbes, the digital gap isn’t between the “haves” and “have-nots” – it’s between the “haves” and the “have-mores.” Organizations that merely buy and deploy technologies in siloed ways, will fall behind those that approach digitization as an ever-evolving journey.

Are you falling behind in your digital transformation journey, due to the lack of intelligent, streamlined content and process management? If so, click here to learn how Alfresco can help make your business flow.