Hybrid ECM – a growing trend
Every year, around this time of the year, we take our crystal ball out, we give it a good polish, we look into it and it helps us make predictions in and around our industry – say in twelve months, or two or three years from now, how will people manage their content? What problems will they want to solve? What roadblocks will they face, and will our solutions be able to help them?
For many organisations, Document Management is often an after-thought: staff seem to work well with shared drives, so what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that sharing documents, for these companies, is all about attaching them to emails, and that creates a rod for their back: as soon as the document has left the mail server, it will be obsolete the moment the original document is edited. This means that the recipient is working with an out-of-date copy, but what’s worse is that on our side, just like Sisyphus, we are condemned to wasting time and effort working out whether the copy we’re holding is actually the latest copy.
Enlightened organisations understand that collaboration needs to happen on the documents themselves, and they are increasingly using hybrid enterprise content management systems for this.
Hybrid document management works by maintaining content on a document management system safely behind the firewall, and selectively sharing some of these documents with client, partner and supplier organisations, by inviting them to an instance of the document management system in the cloud.
The system in the cloud is then synchronised back with your system behind the firewall: if a file is modified in either system, in the datacentre or in the cloud, the new version is synchronised back to the other system automatically. The interested parties will be notified. Alternatively, you can lock down the copy in the cloud, so that your own copy is never affected by changes elsewhere.
What is important about this approach is that your clients and suppliers and partners are always viewing the most recent versions of the files you share with them, without you having to load them into emails and sending them off. Furthermore, you know that they are always working with up-to-date information, and that reduces errors and misunderstandings.
Alfresco offers this hybrid functionality out of the box: one of our clients has subsidiaries in multiple countries – they rely on two way communication with their stakeholders using this synchronisation mechanism. It has hugely increased their efficiency, and reduced timelags. They are now able to share documents that were previously only available locally, which helps with searches and with better decisionmaking.
This hybrid approach is in effect building a closer network around the organisations you work with, and we see this trend continuing to increase dramatically this year: as companies involve their clients and suppliers and partners, these third parties can experience the ease with which documents are shared, and thus become interested in organising their content in the same way.
It’s a snowball effect which will reach a tipping point – so has your organisation already adopted a strategy for this? If not, you may want to consider it earlier rather than later. For more information, contact us at www.parashift.com.au/contact