Alfresco, an open source enterprise content management (ECM) company, just announced the release of their newest platform Alfresco Enterprise 4, a platform that is not only cloud-connected but user-friendly as well.
"One of the down sides of content management in the past was it was built for enterprise, not for users. So one of the key differences with Alfreso Enterprise 4 over previous content management platforms is that it's really built for users," says Todd Barr, CMO of Alfresco.
Like most other ECM companies, Alfresco has almost exclusively dealt with, and therefore geared its products towards IT departments since its inception in 2005.
"Those have been our buyers," says Barr. "So we have content security down to the most granular level of the piece of content."
The user who creates the content, whether it's an image, a document, or a video, has the ability to control who else in the company has access to it as well as who else is allowed to make changes to it.
Though Alfresco's kept the same standards of security in its new product, Alfresco Enterprise 4 promises to be easy for users as well with social publishing features, mobile apps, and cloud connectedness.
Alfresco Enterprise 4 incorporates social media tools to make publishing and sharing any kind of content possible without leaving the platform. By clicking on an image, for example, the "document actions" option allows any user to publish it on a social forum, from Flicker to Twitter to Facebook immediately.
"There's all these new social tools out there which are great. They do really great things," says Barr. "But if you have 150 people in your marketing department and you want to give each of them the ability to publish to particular accounts based on who they are, you can manage all that in Alfresco." Alfresco Enterprise 4 acts, in many ways, the same as a social site-giving users the ability to "like," comment on content, and even find out who creates the most content and follow that person.
While content can be published and shared outside of the company through social media sites, Alfresco Enterprise 4 also allows documents to be shared to other file sharing systems, such as Dropbox. A user can choose to send a file to Dropbox and then modify it outside of Alfresco. By resaving the file and revisiting the original in Alfresco Enterprise 4, with one click on the "get from Dropbox" option, the file is updated in Alfresco with the changes made outside of the system.
"Not only can Alfresco grab it from Dropbox, but it also does version control on it. So the old ones are still there inside of Alfresco and if you ever need to revert back, you can get them," says Barr.
The platform conforms to the user and his or her own preferences down to the layout of the site page. Alfresco allows users to use whatever tools they need and work in whichever applications they choose. Though content can be edited outside Alfresco through the Dropbox option, it can be edited directly in Alfresco through a Microsoft Office connection as well. "In fact, you can be changing files on the airplane and when you get back to the office and are back on WiFi, you can sync it up again. So it really kind of extends content management down to the user in a way that works for them," says Barr.
With the ability to use Alfresco Enterprise 4 with Dropbox and social media, on an iPad or mobile phone, the system integrates with nearly every aspect of content creation and collaboration.
Barr adds, "Any tool the users use, they can use Alfresco with and we try to make it as easy and as seamless as possible."