Impressions from Alfresco Summit

Scott Francis
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Last week BP3 attended Alfresco Summit for the first time.

We already have Greg Harley’s impressions of the summit, but I wanted to share my thoughts as a BPM practitioner surrounded by an ECM conference.

On the heels of an informal partnership in 2013, with BP3 providing support for Activiti BPM, and a formal partnership in 2014 as the first Alfresco Activiti partner in the United States, we were ready to attend our first Alfresco Summit to learn more about Alfresco’s ecosystem of customers and partners.

My observations:

Alfresco is gearing up for an IPO.  That is clear in the tenor and confidence of the management team, the product direction and marketing, and the emphasis on sustainable business and recurring revenue.  They’re growing and they’re confident in what they’re doing. I worry more that they are taking on too many new initiatives than that they’re too complacent with their success.

The Alfresco summit has its roots as a developers’ conference, and it still shows.  Developers were the stars of the show in breakout sessions.  This was not a conference dominated by marketing, where everyone has to be on-point and on-message. Live-coding your demo in front of the audience was perfectly acceptable.  Compare that to most conferences where everyone blanches at even showing a live demo, let alone live coding.

It was also an international gathering.  Alfresco’s roots are international, and it was reflected in their customer- and partner-attendees as well.  Even the swag was international – a plug with just about every imaginable power adapter built in.

On the first three points I felt right at home.  The biggest adjustment, for me, was being the odd BPM duckling in an ECM- dominated conference.  Almost implicitly, discussion of process implies process around content. All process examples involved working with content.  The simplest way to introduce ourselves when someone asked “what does BP3 do?” was to say, “BPM”.  All the examples, revenue, and people were primarily interested in ECM.  There were three focused BPM sessions, plus prominent mention in the General Session on Day 1 – and if I had to guess, this is more content than there was last year, so it is an improvement!

I also got to see first-hand the “stereotype” ECM customer cases – which seem to revolve around rescuing, capturing, and organizing physical documents-  that are analogous to BPM’s tired use case of Human Resource Onboarding.

In one of the Activiti sessions, it was co-presented with Joram Barrez of Alfresco and fast-talking Josh Long of Spring – and they demonstrated a demo by building it in real-time in front of the audience.  It was entertaining and full of “only-heard-in-software” jargon.  The number of Doge references was quite literally uncountable.    It was coding as performance art, and it was a nice counter-point to customer stories and business value.

Greg Harley also presented a session about his team’s work with FICO and Activiti, which I venture to say is one of the most interesting applications of Activiti BPM in the wild.

It was a good first experience for our team, and coincided nicely with the release of Brazos Portal for Activiti, for which we received quite a few inquiries.

 

 

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  • The “stereotype” ECM use case usually revolves around a document
    lifecycle with some workflow trigger(s) for document creation or a
    turnaround document, input capture just being a front-end to that,
    though most content repositories’ content these days (and for quite some
    time) does not come from scan operations. I always thought the “tired”
    BPM use case was A/P. :D