Moving documents and data fluidly within and between companies electronically has been a goal since people first started storing data in a computer. While, I’m sure every one of us believed we would one day rid ourselves of the multi-colored carbon copy forms I’m not so sure we foresaw the less than elegant ways systems have been cobbled together. The back-end architecture of several older or early-adopter systems is less than stellar. With advances from Alfresco cloud computing and synchronization we are moving closer to not only delivering the solutions the business needs but also eliminating the technical headaches of system integration.
The silos of HR, accounting, marketing, customer service, operations, legal and sales departments contain too many poorly integrated IT solutions. The most common issue we see is the duplication of data and documents from one solution to the next, often simply to ease access. Complicated custom synchronization methods are often in place to maintain the information flow and service the system of record.
Streamlining the integrations may seem a no brainer but justifying a solution platform is not straight-forward, unless there is a significant improvement in the user experience or a very tangible savings in terms of IT total cost of ownership. Either way changing to a platform or cloud solution is a challenge. In seeking justification, don’t overlook the costs to a company for swivel chair integration.
The primary motivator for solution consolidation on a platform is the ease of integration to eliminate extra steps for the users. The robust API of the Alfresco platform can alleviate or eliminate many of the manual integration points nearly every worker experiences when working with documents. Removing the need to look things up on a file system while working in the finance application or navigating to a specific letter received from a customer in a document management system while on a service call.
Integrating documents into existing data-driven systems can enhance an existing solution by keeping the user working in-context. See examples of how we use our HPI Related Folders to reduce the time users spend finding information in our TSG Learning Zone.
Finally, one-way synchronization and near ubiquitous access to data and documents is being achieved with replication, cloud solutions, and mobile devices. There is always room for improvement and the need for two-way synchronization is an active area of research. We’re looking forward to see what Alfresco is developing and how we can continue to build solutions that remove our clients everyday hassels and bring them greater value from their IT investments.
Please share your thoughts on this topic with us.