In the briefing room: Alfresco Share

Information does not exist in isolation; indeed, most if not all content in an enterprise setting is touched by multiple knowledge workers who have to collaborate in some manner to complete their missions.  Not only that, but as more and more knowledge work is performed by distributed and disparate teams, with members located in different cities and time zones, companies need to factor this in and integrate collaborative processes with content management.  Despite the reality of how work is conducted, there is little to no underlying functionality to achieve this in tools that manage content.

Alfresco Share is one option to address the lack of collaborative features in content management systems.  Alfresco has made a name for itself in the content management space through its commercial open source business model that provides a cost-saving alternative to offerings from traditional content management (CM) vendors.  Not satisfied to rest upon its laurels, the company has introduced Alfresco Share, an interface for its ECM offering that manages team collaboration around documents, projects, and teams.

Alfresco Share sits on top of the company’s document repository alongside its Document Management and Web Content Management solutions as part of Alfresco’s Enterprise Content Management offering and is included in both the Community and Enterprise Editions from Alfresco.  In Alfresco Share, all content, be it in documents, blogs, or wikis, is treated the same and stored in the central document repository.

What Alfresco Share brings to the table is the empowering of knowledge workers to interact with content and colleagues via features they are familiar with from social networking applications that allow them to share content, form virtual teams, and monitor project status and team updates.

Knowledge workers form virtual teams around projects that allow them to collaborate together and create communities where both internal and external users can work around specific content.  Specific sites are created for projects were team members can access content such as blogs, wikis, and documents, find contact information for team members, and keep track of recent activity around the project.  One key omission is the lack of imbedded presence awareness and direct contact options, although it is possible to work around this to some extent, for example by cutting and pasting phone numbers into a soft phone.

One feature that knowledge workers will find particularly useful is the inclusion of activity feeds, which allow the knowledge worker to keep tabs on the actions of coworkers and stay up-to-date on relevant content.  The utility of activity feeds, or streams, is that they provide a personalized single location to present activity that is relevant to the user.

Collaboration is without question the wave of the future for knowledge work, and surely we will see more collaborative functionality from Alfresco and other CM vendors in the future.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

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