Alfresco today announced a tight integration between its enterprise content management (ECM) platform, Alfresco One, and its Business Process Management (BPM) platform, Activiti.
It's the climax to years of effort to pull the two platforms closer together, and rounds out the functionality of both to manage both business content and processes.
Today’s announcement, which includes a number of additions and upgrades to both, enables them to compete in market that Paul Hampton, director of product marketing at Alfresco, described as Process and Collaboration Management (PCM).
The ‘low- or no-code’ offering that open source Alfresco is bringing to that market offers enterprises a broad range of content management and content driven processes. In effect, it combines BPM, ECM and records management, as well as offering integrations with capture and e-signature vendors.
“People are starting to realize the two worlds of BPM and ECM are converging. That’s really quite exciting for us because we now have something that enable customers to build these content-centric process applications to drive their business forward,” Hampton said.
It has been clear that Alfresco has been moving in this direction for a long time. Two weeks ago, it announced the appointment of a new Chief Revenue Office, who was specifically tasked with building up the sales and marketing team for the Activiti BPM business.
With most enterprises now entering a phase of digital transformation and placing a bigger emphasis on content, Hampton said a new approach to ECM and BPM is needed — not just by Alfresco, but also by all the other players in the ECM space.
“We have is two products that can standalone or can be integrated products. What we are seeing is a realization in the market that most content has process associated with it, and most processes have something to do with content and that that content needs to be managed,” he said.
Low- and No-Code
While an integrated ECM and BPM product could be cumbersome and difficult to use, Alfresco has focused on a "low- or no-code" approach.
What this means is that end users won’t have to know very much, if anything, about coding to use this
Hampton cited one test case in an UK hospital where, using the step editor — a simple process creation tool — nurses and doctors created entire medical processes for patients. Users can access a richer process editor that enables the creation of more complex processes when necessary.
“We can engage business users to get involved in designing these processes. Because they are involved they feel ownership, so there is a greater chance of success. This as opposed to having something that takes six months to design and when it finally emerges has to be thrown out or modified again because the business has moved on,” he said.
With this ECM release, Alfresco added Smart Folders to help users access content based on “what it is” rather than “where it is, additional APIs that support broader customizations as well as improved usability and search capabilities powered by open-source SOLR technology.
For the BPM platform there is an enhanced BPMN 2.0 process engine, which allows process forms improvement, process model creation and performance enhancements as well as tighter integration with cloud file sync-and-share solutions.