SpringCM provides a cloud based enterprise content management platform. It was founded in 2005 and I have covered it before on this blog (see SpringCM Goes Beyond Content Management). I recently spoke with Roger Bottum of SpringCM on their latest moves. SpringCM is set up to put content into the work process. They are also putting content wherever you need it with an enhanced mobile capability that now includes a version specifically designed for the iPad. This is a smart move as mobile enterprise apps are now on the rise with tablets and smart phones passing desktops and laptops in usage. Over 15 million iPads were sold in 2010 and the numbers are increasing.
Roger said that they did a number of things to optimize SpringCM for the iPad. These features include a simplified screen that still provides the essential components. You can see a sample iPad screen below. They extended the simplification to provide an intuitive interface that does not require any significant training, similar to many consumer Web apps. There is some self-learning material to further support the self-service approach. They also made extensive use of the touch or gesture approach to navigation. The app is built in HTML 5 to take full advantage of mobile features. Finally, the self-service approach is brought to procurement. Once your company as set up things with SpringCM, individuals simply go to the SpringCM Web site and begin using the tool.
Next we covered the new free SpringCM solution to provide enhanced content management capabilities to Salesforce.com. I like their more to integrate with the most prevalent cloud based CRM system. I have written about how the newer systems of engagement need to integrate with the older systems of record for real progress to be made. This is a great example of these complimentary capabilities.
Spring CM began with some research into the needs of Salesforce users. Top issues cited by survey respondents include: 91% – having easier ways to add, access and edit documents within Sales Cloud Accounts, Opportunities and Campaigns; 83% – making documents easier to find and secure with folders; 81% – being able to search across all documents across Accounts and Opportunities using metadata. These request make sense when you look at how Salesforce works by itself.
Roger explained that there are now two main ways to load a document into Saleforce. One is to associate it directly to an account or opportunity. However, then it is not available for access through search across the system. You can also put a document into the central repository and then it can be accessed through search. However, there are then multiple steps to associate it with a specific account or opportunity. There is also the ability to tag a document in Salsforce but this capability does not support a controlled vocabulary so people can put in any tag they want. This results in a more of folksnomy approach rather than a taxonomy and it makes systematic retrieval more difficult. Here is a sample screen showing Saleforce integration.
The free version of Spring CM for Salesforce takes care of these limitations. When you upload a document it can be automatically associated with an account or opportunity and be searchable at the same time. A controlled vocabulary is offered through drop down lists of possible tags. This allows Salesforce to go beyond CRM capabilities to also become a useful knowledge repository, but one that is part of the workflow and not a separate system. This is a crucial difference because it puts knowledge in the form of documents right in the middle of where work happens.
The content management capabilities in SpringCM can operate in the background. For example, you can click on a Word document in Salesforce that is being managed by SpringCM and it opens directly in Word. Then when you are done it is closed back into Salesforce with any related additional metadata added behind the scenes by SpringCM.
Since both Saleforce and SpringCM are cloud apps this integrated capability can be acquired through the Web in a few minutes, bypassing expensive system integration work. If you want more capabilities such as automated workflow with approvals for contracts, then you can upgrade to the commercial version of SpringCM. SpringCM can also integrate with other systems of record such as SharePoint in the same way so that SpringCM works behind the scenes to bring greater capabilities to these systems.
Roger also mentioned that the latest integration with Salesforce involves Salesforce Chatter, their micro-blogging tool. Chatter allows for contextual activity streams within Salesforce, as well as standalone capabilities. You can now use the metadata that SpringCM creates to have more focused activity streams within Chatter related to documents. When a document is added or updated, an alert automatically goes out to the right people who are following the related account. Below is a sample screen showing Chatter integration.
These are two strong moves. The first move makes use of the new mobile devices to bring content to where you want it. The second move brings enhanced cloud-based content management capabilities to more traditional systems of record, especially Salesforce with the free version and also SharePoint with their commercial version.