There’s been a lot of attention to content management cloud strategies these days but most of what is there today is really just file sharing. Some, like Box.net, have taken this a further by adding tasks and versioning. But really that’s a little piece of library services. I was pleasantly surprised to see that at least one vendor, SpringCM, has gone beyond basic library services and has been bringing full enterprise content management to the cloud environment. And last week SpringCM announced that in addition to standard content management they are bringing case management to the cloud too.
Starting with Content Management in The Cloud
When I think of content management in the cloud my mind immediately jumps to simply library services. (I ignore those services that are simple file sharing drop boxes.) To do library services a platform must have the ability to share files, create new versions and notify other individuals of activities to be performed on the files. To me, content management is the next level and extends the platform by adding business value to content stored in you library. SpringCM offers full workflow, records management, reporting and even capture making it a content management platform.
To be Enterprise Content Management you need to tie into other business process and other business applications. SpringCM can be integrated as a content store for Salesforce.com and SAP and offers view into the repository from within Microsoft SharePoint. Also each business solution built on SpringCM works together. This means that as a user of the system, you don’t need to go into one repository for “Application A” and another for “Application B”. From one log-in all tasks are seen in one simple task list. Add to this provisioning and active directory synchronization and you have a cloud-base platform.
Bringing Case Management to the Cloud
In this latest release, SpringCM brings case management to their cloud-based ECM platform. SpringCM look at the case management thought the metaphor that the users are experts and typically work from check lists rather than a workflow process. Individual cases are created that are basically folder structures that can include sub-folder and these are the basic containers for the solution. These cases hold typical content files. For SpringCM this means documents, captured images, emails, files from Salesforce.com and SAP and the cases are assigned to specific tasks based on types. Following their ECM strategy, different types of cases can be in a specific application as well.
In additional to individual cases functionality the platform supports case management views that show due cases, late case, and case processing statistics. These can be displayed in tabular or graphic formats. At the individual case view you also see a task status bar and managers are able to look at their own tasks or tasks assigned to their team.
Taking it Mobile
Also part of last week’s announcement is the ability to access SpringCM from mobile devices, specifically the iPad. The interface is web application that offers the ability to view, download, check-in and out documents through both folder navigation and full-text search. Today the focus of the mobile app is on content management but one should expect case management functionality to be available. This is a valuable tool as I think more and more tablets will become a replacement for laptops, just like laptops were for desktops. (I’ve recently been experimenting with carrying only a tablet for both professional and personal trips.
ECM in the Cloud
Like many I’ve been looking at a lot of messaging talking about the future possibilities of content management in the clouds. I’ve really missed what was being said by SpringCM and am glad to have taken the time for a closer look. For those looking for content management in the cloud today, do yourself a favor and take a closer look at SpringCM.
Very interesting post on SpringCM. I think that some of the open source and SaaS/cloud based ECM vendors are catching up fast with the established ECM vendors, especially where it comes to competing on core ECM functionality. I am seeing a much greater interest from my clients who are seeing open source and SaaS as viable alternatives that they are giving serious consideration to.
From your view, or indeed anyone that reads your posts, what are the key ‘gotchas’ with, say, SpringCM versus the established ECM vendors such as EMC Documentum, Open Text, IBM FileNet, Oracle UCM, HP Trim? How close are SpringCM to really competing and displacing the established ECM vendors. I’ve looked at the SpringCM web site, all reads great, but I haven’t implemented it nor do I know anyone that has. As such, I don’t have firsthand knowledge of what the shortfalls might be.
The list of vendors you present is interesting. I don’t see most of them, EMC Documentum, Open Text, IBM FileNet, and Oracle UCM, competing often with SpringCM. You could also add to this list Alfresco. The services that are available from SpringCM, it is very close to what these vendors offer. Most of the features are there but I have not yet dug into the specifics as to at what level. For example, I know that their levels of security go beyond read, write, none but not how many levels. And some services are also missing, like any transformation engines to create HTML or PDF.
I do see them competing more with Microsoft SharePoint where they are a much more even match. Even exceeding Microsoft in some areas like the support for capture and reporting. Where Box.net is looking to offer a subset of SharePoint services in the cloud today, SpringCM offers a matching set of features. I think SpringCM cloud model also makes the purchase decision similar to Microsoft’s departmental approach, where the manager/ director can make the decision without IT approval.
Thank you Marko for the additional and really useful information. When I think about it, most of my clients are looking at the SaaS alternative from the web content management side (vendors such as CrownPeak – not SpringCM as they don’t seem to offer WCM) rather than document management. Interesting to hear that SpringCM offers a matching set of features to SharePoint. One to watch then.