As a product leader, I am grateful to be able to meet with a number of our key customers, partners, developers and users of all types. These conversations typically bring new insight and reinforce patterns across many of the industries we serve. One point that consistently comes out since the early days of Alfresco is that every piece of content is typically tied to a business process, and every process typically has an associated piece of content. Because of this, an integrated content management and business process solution can deliver great value to enterprise and government. That is core to our roots.
We also recognize the connection between people, process and content, and built our solutions so that these workflows seamlessly work together. Recent advancements to Alfresco One and Alfresco Activiti provide tighter integration of our platform capabilities, allowing customers to work seamlessly with interoperability across important business functions.
Alfresco One 5.1 includes:
- Easy Content Model Management that allows a non-technical user the ability to configure Alfresco to their specific business data model in a “no code” environment that embeds more intelligence into the content being managed.
- Smart Folders that make it easy for users to access content based on “what it is” rather than “where it is,” providing a consumer-like “intelligent playlist” experience.
- Additional APIs in the core platform that support broader customizations, system reliability and increased flexibility to address a multitude of use cases.
- Improved usability for core collaboration and content management workflows, powered by open-source SOLR technology with advanced administration options to support mass-scale deployments.
- Updated iOS and Android mobile apps and SDK for further app customizations.
- Support for native-cloud technologies, including the new Amazon Aurora database.
Activiti 1.4 includes:
- Enhanced BPMN 2.0 process engine, which allows process forms improvement, process model creation and performance enhancements.
- No-code development for business rules to automatically drive process decisions.
- Tighter integration with cloud file sync-and-share solutions, which allows Alfresco to bring process and control to ad-hoc file sharing systems.
- Mobile support through a dedicated app.
So, what’s the impact to the key constituents we think about during product development? Let’s explore some use cases.
Line of Business teams
A sales, marketing or support team spends its day sharing information and communicating back and forth between team members and external parties. They need ready access to sales materials, customer support and prospect documents, as well as internal documents, in addition to the ability to collaborate to create, review and approve documents.
We believe the new Smart Folders functionality, will let business units organize their content the way they want, providing multiple views based on ”what” it is not “where” it is. By adding in additional context thought metadata, they can easily be used to initiate processes and automate workflows. Finally, for keeping external teams like Sales and Field Support mobile and secure, the latest update of Alfresco Activiti includes a dedicated app for mobile process support, so you can keep critical business processes moving while on the go.
CIOs and Enterprise Architects
The more progressive CIOs I talk with think IT should be a driver of innovation, not a cost center. They worry about how IT systems will perform and grow over time. CIOs are concerned about mitigating risk and keeping content secure, while adhering to mandates to move to the cloud and other efforts aimed at keeping systems agile to help support the business.
The updates to Alfresco One and Alfresco Activiti provide the ease of deployment and support CIOs and enterprise architects rely on, including platform modularization for easier upgrades, an update assistant for service packs and hot fixes, and SOLR index resilience via sharding and duplication. They also improve upon Alfresco’s modular and scalable architecture with BPM and ECM performance enhancements, the ability to process over 1 billion documents using the cloud-native Amazon AWS Aurora database.
Developers want a robust set of tools to extend systems to create business solutions. The developers I talk with get excited about anything that makes developing, testing and deploying faster and easier. Developers also have to worry about ease of deployment, customization, integration and long maintenance of the solution.
We listened to our active Alfresco developer community and gave them a lot of what they wanted, including a formal API lifecycle with clear rules for versioning and more REST APIs, separate Core platform and Share installers, a richer set of documented platform and application extension points and enhancing the modular UI framework to build custom business solutions. In Alfresco Activiti, we focused on the ease of development by offering no-code development, including for decision rules and content model management, and process model creation with a Step Editor to the BPMN Editor. Finally, the updates add to Alfresco’s active community with standards-based SDKs for web, mobile and cloud, source code access for platform, web and mobile, and more fully supported dev examples than we have ever had.
We hope you enjoy it!