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Alfresco ECM: Cloud first, content and process!

Last March, I attended the annual Alfresco Sales Kickoff event, held in Dublin. The aim of the event was to bring together Alfresco Top management, the Sales and Marketing teams, and key partners and share the global vision.

I represented Xenit, which was the only Belgian partner that attended and sponsored the conference.

Monday – “The Vision”

Bernadette Nixon, Chief Executive Officer, opened the day by pointing out the importance of the Open Source, as key differentiation into the ECM market. We at Xenit have always supported this point of view, and frankly speaking, this was a major driver to joining the Alfresco partnership program in 2007. 

Bernadette was pleased with the 2018 Alfresco’s results, in terms of revenue, profitability, and healthy total growth. She pointed out, in my opinion, a clear direction for the future: “Who is Alfresco? A commercial, open-source software company focused on the enterprise”. Alfresco indeed has the ability to support and scale bigger accounts, with more than 70,000 users. Bernadette quoted John Newton, who started some years ago: “We get to do good when we do great”. The doing good part is the free version for smaller companies, and we should expect a clear line between the community edition and enterprise versions in the future. 

Bernadette continued: “Today, it’s about putting content to work to drive competitive differentiation”. The Alfresco Digital Business Platform offers process-led content management with information governance – all cloud-native and built on open standards. So, cloud-first, content, and process!

In my humble opinion, Alfresco has found again a clear path in positioning the platform, where in the past we struggled between the horizontal platform and vertical solutions. I understand now that Alfresco is first and foremost a horizontal platform with which vertical solutions can be built, quickly, The Alfresco platform serves vertical offerings (ERP, ..), while being a solution to capture, manage and retain all content at the core of an enterprise. Bernadette added: In the short term, the Integrated Digital Business Platform focuses on 2 sectors: government and insurance.

The Digital Business Platform will prove its value by allowing it to build things much faster. Months instead of years, weeks instead of months.  Not only the time-to-build must go down, but there will also be an offering for a repeatable migration process, and a toolkit to migrate from legacy ECM to Alfresco. 

The go-to-market strategy

Alfresco’s ultimate mission is to allow customers to reduce costs and drive innovation with a cloud-native architecture. AI and Machine Learning will disrupt the content industry in the next years: it is still a fact that 80 % of business information is locked in instructed information. We often lose too much time by transforming information, Intelligent Information management and AI can definitely help to unlock and make accessible that information and Alfresco can become a leader in the space. The key objectives for this year from a product point of you are:

  • Modern deployment, containers
  • Microservices
  • Cloud native (S3, Glacier, AI, ML)
  • Multi-cloud (AWS, Azure…)

AWS has an important offering in the AI space: Amazon Comprehend (entities, people, places, locations), Amazon Rekognition, and Amazon Textract. They will help Alfresco and Xenit to automate content-centric processes.

New opportunities for automation and increased governance arise, think about what you can do for auto-classification of documents. Classification would be combined with entity extraction and PII (Personally Identifiable Information) detection to learn, classify and protect in the context of GDPR regulation. AI capabilities in Alfresco can be expected to be enterprise only. Content automation leads to lower transaction costs.

Alfresco is already building relevant use cases for the emerging technologies, focusing mainly on:

Paul Hampton, Product Marketing Director, shared indeed a specific cause for the Insurance market: the claim process and the customer experience. More than 70% of the claims process is still manual and there is a need to create a much better digital customer experience. It must be multi-channel, automated, with minimum manual input or feedback from the customer.

Tuesday – “The Workshops”

On Tuesday, I attended a workshop on migration, where we were informed that 35 % of companies using ECM are strongly considering migrating to a new ECM in the next 5 years. Among the most important reasons, they cite (1). to drive innovation, (2). to increase agility, and (3). to address legacy challenges like outdated user interfaces, and information silos. These organizations need to build appropriate expertise levels for cloud technologies, Alfresco can act as a catalyst.

Andy Wadsworth, Global Consulting Services Director, explained the Migration toolkit and what it contains. Alfresco brings 2 types of offerings

  • standard migration, fixed criteria, the fixed duration for 80 % of cases;
  • complex migration: bespoke migration assessment before the project.

That day, I also attended a few “prototypical sales and value presentations”, making a case for digital transformation with Alfresco, focusing on use cases and customer needs. I paid particular attention to a presentation on FileNet replacement at Progressive by Dave Giordano of TSG.  Alfresco is certainly trying to focus more on business needs and objectives, and less emphasis on technical capabilities. It all starts with the current issues of the customer, and their business drivers. Once we have those mapped, we can design the nesting strategy and create technology alignment with the customer objectives.

In short, with Alfresco Digital Business Platform, we aim to:

  • increase revenue for our customers by creating a much better user experience for their customers,
  • decrease costs by leveraging cloud capabilities and agile architectures, and
  • make compliance a first-class design factor, not a by-product.

Finally, John Newton, Chief Technology Officer, outlined the top six principles for future developments:

Alfresco is and remains open at the core, so it can cover a very broad market, and leverage open source to create and modernize the digital business platform.

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