“A Zia Christmas Carol” – Thoughts from Alfresco Summit 2013 (Part I)

Last month, the Zia team sponsored the Alfresco Summit in Barcelona and Boston. Our Senior Vice President of Business Development, Phil Robinson, shares his unique view of the events in his version of a classic holiday story.

Alfresco Summit 2013Happy Holidays to everyone from the team at Zia Consulting!  For the last few weeks, we’ve intended to share our thoughts on the 2013 Alfresco Summit.  So now, with next week being Christmas (already?), we’ve decided that “A Zia Christmas Carol” would be an appropriate way to do so.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

As Alfresco’s Partner of the Year for each of the previous two years and Alfresco’s largest reseller globally, we certainly don’t feel haunted by the past!  However, we also clearly recognize the approaches that were taken previously for ECM purchasing and deployment aren’t the reality anymore.  No longer will technologies be evaluated over a matter of months, deciding on a multi-million dollar purchase of an enterprise-wide ECM platform that is then deployed in projects that may take over a year….  only to find that you’ve implemented a system that users don’t want and won’t use–and that costs more than you can afford.  Unfortunately, this Ghost of Christmas Past looks a lot like a Legacy ECM system!

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Today’s approach to ECM has already moved away from this monolithic model of the past.  Decisions on ECM technologies are often made at the departmental level, with a focus on finding the right tool for a specific use case–whether it’s a case management need, the desire for a simple collaboration tool that can be deployed internally and externally, or even an individual records management need.  Often these “one-off” decisions are made by individuals within the department, with a focus on rapid deployment and time to business value, as part of “the consumerization of IT”.  While this approach often finds users enamored with The Ghost of Christmas Present, for Enterprise IT, it’s still a nightmare.  The lack of security and compliance, the inability to share information or have enterprise search across these newly created silos, the lack of true document and records management functionality, and more… is what keeps CIO’s and COO’s worrying about the “Dropbox Problem”.

The Ghost of Christmas Future – Alfresco Summit 2013

In the Dickens Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Future is the most concerning of all to Scrooge.  Fortunately, thanks to Alfresco and with all credit to John Newton, the Future of Work and specifically the Future of ECM is in good hands!  For those who attended the Alfresco Summit this year in either Barcelona or Boston, you saw the beginnings of a vision that John (and Marty McFly) shared around the future of content management.  This vision, which Zia is pleased to have contributed towards, is focused on building the ideal model for a future where content and users are everywhere, the interaction with content is role-specific and simplified, and yet information is still being securely managed by the enterprise.

What does this friendly Ghost of Christmas Future look like?

  • Legacy ECM + Dropbox = Hybrid ECM Solutions (aka “the best of both worlds”)
  • Simplified role-based business processes
  • Increased reliance on Capture within Workflows to automate
  • Integration of ECM with ERP, CRM, HCM and other business applications
  • Mobile business applications rather than Mobile ECM (aka “mobile case management”)

Clearly this Ghost of Christmas Future looks a lot like Alfresco!

In support of this vision, one of the other key takeaways for me personally from the Alfresco Summit (which was obviously named after the famous Zia Summit of 2012 and 2013!) is the growth of the technology ecosystem around Alfresco.  Virtually all of the technology sponsors and attendees support this Future of ECM with examples that we are already including in our Zia Solutions such as:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the AWS Test Drive Program
  • Ephesoft – with new API’s for “In-Process Capture” within the Alfresco Workflow
  • Pernexas – providing a “certified” connector from Alfresco to SAP
  • Simflofy – migrating only the content you need, when you need it
  • Snowbound – allowing for annotation and redaction in Zia Solutions for Financial Services

We look forward to 2014 and to working with many of you on creating the Future of ECM for your organization.  Thank you for all of your support in 2013!

Coming next will be a review of some of the technology announcements and other presentations from the Summit, where you’ll see further evidence of how “The Future is Now” with Alfresco.

Merry Christmas!

Phil “Scrooge” Robinson