How to Make Web 2.0 Work Using Open-Source Enterprise Content Management

By John Newton  |  Posted 2009-09-28 Print this article Print

Enterprise content management has traditionally been very expensive to license, roll out and scale. It often requires expensive hardware and supporting software. The enterprise content management industry has been dependent on complexity, with the vendor controlling the customer through proprietary power. But there is a cost-effective alternative: open-source software. Web 2.0 sites have changed the way in which content is both accessed and mashed up. Here, Knowledge Center contributor John Newton explains how open-source software gives companies an enterprise content management solution that focuses on lower cost, greater simplicity and greater customer choice.

Web 2.0 sites have changed the way content is being accessed around the globe by remote workers, requiring easier access points through tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. The clunky and traditionally expensive enterprise content management (ECM) methods no longer apply, as budgets are tightening and workers are requiring more user-friendly Web 2.0 tools on the go.

In order to make the most out of Web 2.0 investments, organizations need ECM solutions to be economical, simple and able to handle a large amount of content. At the same time, these ECM solutions need to allow companies the freedom to choose to use tools based on the changing needs of their organization. Open-source ECM enables organizations to more easily and cost-effectively manage content, projects and people using both internal and external Web 2.0 sites to create a better collaborative working environment.

The following are five best practices for making Web 2.0 work within the enterprise using open-source ECM:

Best practice No. 1: Focus on the creative knowledge workers

To make knowledge workers more effective, enterprises need to focus efforts on supporting free-form, informal and social processes for project and personal collaboration. As knowledge workers utilize both internal and external content, enterprises need to consider how to implement open-source ECM to support the type of Web 2.0 environments they are familiar with outside of the enterprise (such as YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook).

Best practice No. 2: Build the community

Web 2.0 is all about the communities they create and open source is all about enhancing that community. By embracing product-driven Web 2.0 community microsites, stronger brands can be created by providing an interactive community to test messages, solicit feedback and create buzz and company evangelists.

Best practice No. 3: Incorporate content, projects and people

For enterprises to embrace Web 2.0, next-generation open-source ECM must manage content, projects and people. This means managing content that is created both internally and externally and managing the people, colleagues and experts within the enterprise. It also means identifying their knowledge areas, as well as collaboratively managing the range of different projects that individuals manage, drive or touch in some way.

John Newton is Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Alfresco. John is no newbie to the market, as he has had one of the longest and most influential careers in content management. Considered by many to be the father of enterprise content management, John is credited with inventing many of the concepts widely used in the industry today. In 1990, John co-founded, designed and led the development of Documentum, which became the leader in content management and was acquired by EMC. In 2005, he co-founded Alfresco. He can be reached at

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