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Alfresco business platform speeds digital transformation strategy

Breaking down silos between BPM and ECM is essential for staying competitive in the cloud age. One systems integrator turned to Alfresco Digital Business Platform.

With the need for a digital transformation strategy now a centerpiece of re-engineering businesses for the cloud and mobile age, moving quickly is essential -- but only if that speed yields value. Enterprises are finding help by turning to digital business platform technology.

At the heart of that transformation is capturing, securing and managing content. The value proposition is grounded on the timely integration with business processes, according to Carl Lehmann, principal analyst of enterprise architecture, integration and process management at 451 Research. Enterprises are demanding efficient interoperability across platforms, including business process management (BPM) and enterprise content management (ECM), he said.

A forward-looking report from Forrester Research agreed, suggesting that BPM is poised to reassert its dominance as an important technology for driving automation, collaboration and customer engagement. To do so, however, requires the implementation of a digital transformation strategy, according to Clay Richardson, a Forrester principal analyst serving enterprise architecture professionals.

For Micro Strategies Inc., a systems integrator and IT consultancy based in Parsippany, N.J., digital transformation means integrating process, content and governance services that unite those traditionally siloed BPM and ECM systems with homegrown or subscription-based, industry-specific vertical applications.

"Businesses have multiple on-premises and cloud-based applications that need to share related documents and other objects to provide a complete picture," said Adam Storch, vice president at Micro Strategies. "This integration has gotten easier, as both the cloud and digital business platform technology have evolved."

A technology in high demand

The essential nature of implementing a digital transformation strategy is supported by spending that suggests lingering doubts have evaporated. According to a November 2016 forecast from Zion Market Research, the global market for digital transformation technology -- already at $150 billion in 2015 -- will soar to nearly $432 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 19.2%.

"Businesses have to think about a digital transformation strategy in terms of making radical improvements to how they think about their business, how they touch employees and customers, and how they work with partners and suppliers," said Thomas DeMeo, vice president of product management at Alfresco Software Inc., a maker of digital business platform software based in San Mateo, Calif. "With our BPM background, we are looking to connect people, content and processes to deliver a better experience."

Features for developers

Developers want to do cool things that challenge them intellectually.
Adam Storchvice president at Micro Strategies

In February, Alfresco extended its digital business platform capabilities with a new client-side application development framework (ADF) that uses Angular2 for building reuseable process service components. The framework allows developers to use their own preferred application-development tools along with Alfresco's own JavaScript API library. To simplify application development, each new service that Alfresco introduces has an API associated with it, DeMeo said. "Everything we do in a platform sense is a foundational piece that developers can build on top of."

The API-based ADF should appeal directly to developers, Storch said. "Developers want to do cool things that challenge them intellectually. Give them an API-based ADF, and they can get where they need to be more quickly and in a consistent manner -- no more projects that run for a year."

Through the Alfresco ADF, Micro Strategies built an integration for Oracle Financials that embeds invoice document data captured by Alfresco into the Oracle application. Workers click on a link in their Oracle system that brings them directly to the invoice, loading it from Alfresco. "They are looking at or searching for invoices they think live in Oracle. The power of the Alfresco platform is that it can operate transparently and doesn't get in the way."

Joel Shore is news writer for TechTarget's Business Applications and Architecture Media Group. Write to him at [email protected] or follow @JshoreTT on Twitter.

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