Content drives business. Whether it is an order form or contract, presentation or sales sheet – business is fueled by content. The organizations with good business processes share and collaborate documents without significant barriers. They have systems that assist in this process. In working with the Alfresco partner community, I get to see partners working with our customers to add their business content into their processes. One recent integration that is really exciting is the Alfresco Integration for Salesforce – a solution to help share and collaborate on important content within Salesforce.
Customer relationship management systems are an important tool in the collaborative sales process by providing process and structure to complex sales processes. Organizations with well-implemented CRM systems enjoy benefits of increased efficiency and greater visibility into their sales processes. Alfresco adds to the value of this environment by providing access to critical business content inside of Salesforce.com as well as extending the value of the CRM environment by providing business processes that are close to sales to be managed in Alfresco.
I’m talking today with Ray Wijangco, CTO of Technology Services Group who has partnered with Alfresco to develop the Salesforce integration announced at this year’s Dreamforce event in San Francisco.
Joe Tong, Alfresco: What are key problems the Salesforce.com to Alfresco integration is resolving? for sales? for others in the organization?
Ray Wijangco, TSG: Content storage in Salesforce.com only offers rudimentary content management functionality which often time isn’t sufficient for organizations. For many Salesforce.com users the question becomes: How do you work with the content within Salesforce.com and/or expand the audience of that content? Do you need extended document management capabilities aside from a simple DropBox? Do you have a need to expose content to users outside of Salesforce.com? Alfresco allows the ability to take content generated from Salesforce.com and take in to the next level in regards to solving all of these potential problems.
Having content in Alfresco also solves some practical problems of storage limitations and cost issues with storing content in Salesforce.com
Joe: How does the integration facilitate better interactions between teams that use Salesforce.com?
Ray: By leveraging Alfresco as the primary repository to store content, you start to have opportunities where you can expose content to the rest of the organization in an efficient manner including users outside of Salesforce.com. Vice versa, there may be opportunities where marketing and engineering may be able to get content to teams out in the field leveraging Salesforce.com as their primary interface and using Alfresco to manage workflow and approval processes internally. This ability to quickly turn around content across the organization and get feedback, potentially using a combination of Salesforce.com Chatter with Alfresco through social tools becomes an incredibly powerful tool.
For example, suppose a sales reps is at a client site and notices different products from competitors being used. That competitive intelligence could be leveraged by product management or R&D. The sales rep may take a picture and store in Salesforce.com tagging the content with the appropriate metadata. Leveraging workflow, the content may automatically be routed to the appropriate internal product management or R&D personnel.
Joe: What features of Alfresco can be used to easily extend processes in Salesforce.com?
Ray: Once content resides in Alfresco, traditional document management features such as versioning, workflow and metadata can all be leveraged to drive content approvals, allow user to find document quickly, and get a history of content as it goes through different iterations. Alfresco as a platform and exposing the content to other enterprise solutions opens up the door to numerous integrations and exposing content to a wider audience. You can now take the same content that originated from Salesforce.com and expose it to non-Salesforce.com users within the organization, partners, or customers.
Joe: What are the benefits of storing content in Alfresco as compared to Salesforce.com natively or using other consumer file sharing services?
Ray: Salesforce.com has several options for storing documents, within Salesforce.com Objects, Chatter, Salesforce.com CRM Content, etc. All provide basic file storage functionality, but document management features available may vary based on which option you leverage. Most of the consumer file sharing services integrating today with Salesforce.com are cloud-based only offerings. Alfresco’s Enterprise Sync capabilities from Alfresco in the cloud to an on-premise repository is a key differentiator when comparing against consumer file sharing services.
For many organizations, security and compliance are a big concern; making the ability to store important document from the cloud to an on-premise becomes a big benefit. Alfresco is the only content management company offering this integrations and I believe it provides a key differentiator between consumer driven repositories as well as the traditional ECM vendors.
Joe: For a current Alfresco customer, how can they start to leverage this integration?
Ray: The Alfresco Salesforce.com integration will be available in the Salesforce.com AppExchange at no charge. In a matter of minutes, Salesforce.com administrators will be able to integrate Alfresco in the cloud with Salesforce.com and begin storing content related to Salesforce.com Opportunities, Accounts, Contracts and Cases. For now, if existing Alfresco on-premise customers want to leverage the integration and store content on an on-premise repository, the hybrid cloud sync feature available in Alfresco 4.1 will need to be used.
Joe: For developers creating force.com apps, can they leverage key capabilities for apps that need advanced content features?
Ray: Leveraging Alfresco as a content management platform is a perfect use case for developers having content-centric needs in front-end interfaces. Force.com fits in the same mold as existing integrations with platforms like Drupal, Liferay, Jive and others. The services that Alfresco provides via CMIS and/or custom Web Scripts can make this happen easily. Salesforce.com provides a number mechanisms in which content is stored – notes and attachments in Salesforce.com objects, Content Libraries, Chatter, etc. There are opportunities to leverage Alfresco as an aggregator of Salesforce.com content and tie these content silos together.
As a partner of both Alfresco and Salesforce.com Partner, TSG is perfectly leveraged to assist new and existing customers of either platform. If clients have specific needs for migration of content from Salesforce.com into Alfresco, integrations based on additional Salesforce.com objects or the ability to connect direct to an on-premise repository, we would be happy to help make customers Salesforce and Alfresco implementation more successful.