Alfresco: A+ in Positioning as the SharePoint Alternative

Frequent readers will know I’m a pretty tough grader, but I have to give Alfresco an A+ for the positioning and strategy around (if not the naming of) today’s launch of Alfresco Labs Beta 3.

They’re drowning in coverage — press this link to see a list. And the positioning and strategy is simply superb. Why?

  • By positioning as the Microsoft SharePoint alternative they get to dismiss the entire existing enterprise content management (ECM) category, including their most direct and threatening competitors (e.g., EMC / Documentum, OpenText , Interwoven).
  • The SharePoint threat to the existing category is real enough, and the existing vendors wounded, confused, or over-engineered enough, to make that dismissal credible.
  • Alfresco then gets to have an elevator pitch that boils down to: everyone knows SharePoint is going to eat the ECM category, and most people like neither SharePoint nor Microsoft, so wouldn’t you like to have an alternative?

It’s beautiful in it simplicity, logic, and credible dismissal of what I’d guess is their top short-term enemy. Most vendors try to dismiss the current competition in their pitches, but it’s not credible. They either say “we have no competition” (yawn) or “we welcome competition from the 87-foot giant because it’s going to validate our space” (in which you may likely end up roadkill).

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a startup so elegantly, effectively, and credibly dismiss a $1B+ competitor. What’s better is that the strategy backs the messaging. By effectively offering an alternative SharePoint backend, they are able to swap out the plumbing and eliminate the need for underlying Microsoft infrastructure, such as SQL Server and Windows itself.

Great strategy. Great messaging. Great execution.

Well done John, John, and Ian!

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4 responses to “Alfresco: A+ in Positioning as the SharePoint Alternative

  1. Clark Christensen

    Hmmm. One of the teaser features of the new Alfresco release is that they have implemented the SharePoint API that the EU forced exposure of. Mark Logic is working on a “connector” for SharePoint that among other things supports the ability to mirror a SharePoint document library to a directory in the MarkLogic repository. So the question I’m dying to ask is this…As a result of these two facts, will I be able, in the reasonable future, to use Alfresco as my content management front end while storing my documents in MarkLogic?

  2. SharePoint and Alfresco are bound together by a common factor – both are ECMs – Enterprise Content Management systems. Emphasis on Enterprise. But another market SharePoint has been positioning itself strongly for is the SMB market. This creates room for content management systems for SMBs which position themselves as an alternative to SharePoint. The emphasis on this market is not on backend robustness, but solutions that offer feature robustness and ease of setup, while cloaking the backend – all SMB needs. You will notice that this niche is getting hotter by the day. Google is positioning itself in its niche with Google Apps(as part of its overall strategy to give MS a run for tis money), and smaller players Like HyperOffice have also found a firm foothold by virtue of having robust solutions and being an early mover.

  3. Given the competition in this space, it would be a worthwhile solution to pitch Alfreso as the content management frontend with Marklogic as the central repository .

  4. Rishi,

    That can be done and some customers use us together in the way.

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