ACOM To Launch No-Frills Content Management System
December 6, 2005 Alex Woodie
ACOM Solutions threw its hat into the content management software ring last week with the unveiling EZContentManager, a new Windows-based application it is developing. When EZContentManager ships early next year, it is expected to help companies centralize the storage of documents originating from a variety of locations and sources, including iSeries and Windows servers, while providing access to the documents from any desktop or Web browser.
ACOM is billing EZContentManager as a low-cost and no-frills content management system that will satisfy the basic content management needs of most of its clients, which are predominantly mid-size companies. Company officials accept that EZContentManager may not offer all the features contained in high-end alternatives, but maintain that enterprise-strength features are overkill for most OS/400 shops, that these features are often not used and contribute to higher acquisition and implementation costs.
“We’re much more tactical in what we’re trying to solve and the problems we know our customers have, especially in the iSeries space,” says Gregory Church, ACOM’s vice president of communications. “Why buy the Rolls-Royce when the Hyundai will do?”
What these customers need is an affordable way to centralize storage of documents originating on a variety of platforms, Church says. EZContentManager addresses this need by implementing a SQL Server-based repository that automatically archives and indexes documents as they’re generated by OS/400 applications, including business documents such as bills, invoices, and purchase orders generated by ACOM’s EZeDocs/400 document management and output management software. These iSeries documents are converted to PDF documents for storage.
EZContentManager also captures data directly from Windows applications and documents generated by ACOM’s line of Windows-based EDI and payment management solutions The software also interfaces with any e-mail and fax server, providing a seamless way to capture the bulk of the customer communications occurring at ACOM customer sites, says Angela Doolittle, ACOM’s product manager for iSeries products. For all non-iSeries content, EZContentManager stores documents in their native and original format, including Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, text files, and audio or video files.
ACOM made the decision to roll out EZContentManager initially as a Windows-based application as opposed to a native OS/400-based application due to the ease-of-use factor, and the fact that the vast majority of OS/400 shops are also heavily into Windows, Doolittle says. “You will find customers who will not go to anything but iSeries products. But with Windows, it’s just a little easier to put on any enterprise network server out there. Everybody has SQL Server,” she says. “It ties into no frills. It’s easy to use and easy to update and maintain.”
Just the same, the company is considering allowing DB2 as an alternative repository for EZContentManager, and that would enable it to run on iSeries servers, Doolittle says. Another feature currently in development is an add-on scanning and OCR module. ACOM will use an imaging solution developed by its partner ScanSoft, which changed its name to Nuance in October.
When the first version ships next year, EZContentManager will include basic workflow functionality, and the capability to route documents, such as a sales order, to another employee’s inbox for approval. Users will be able to search for and retrieve documents via a Web browser or directly through Windows Explorer. Distribution options include printed copies or electronic e-mail and fax interfaces. What the product won’t do is the kind of complex routing and re-engineering of business processes that many enterprise-strength content management systems are offering.
EZContentManager was developed in-house in a joint effort involving ACOM’s Windows division, which is located in Long Beach, California, and its iSeries division located in Duluth, Georgia. In addition to developing EZContentManager, ACOM is also using it to streamline the storage and distribution of documents among its sales, accounting, administration, professional services organizations.
The software is also undergoing beta tests at customer sites, and should become generally available in early January, the company says. ACOM will concentrate initial sales efforts on its base of 3,500 customers (including 3,000 OS/400 shops) that have deployed its document management software. But this isn’t an iSeries-only type of product, and the company intends to land new customers with EZContentManager, Church says.
Licenses for EZContentManager will start at about $10,000 and range up to $75,000. The company is offering a plethora of licensing options, including named and concurrent users and enterprise site-wide licenses. More information on the product will be available at www.acom.com.