Skip to main content

Wikipedia v David Cameron, Apple v Android, Creatives v Geeks: What we learned from Alfresco Summit 2013

This time last week, ITProPortal was in the midst of Alfresco Summit 2013, one of the biggest open source-focused conferences on the circuit.

The enterprise CMS provider packed the European leg of its annual event with a whole host of keynotes, seminars and workshops featuring some of the tech industry's leading thinkers. So what did we learn out in Barcelona?

Wikipedia’s Wales isn’t a fan of Cameron’s Internet policies

Fresh from his headlining keynote on day one of the summit, we caught up with Wikipedia chief Jimmy Wales for a more intimate chat in a quieter corner the conference venue. Wales was open and forthcoming on all manner of subjects in our interview, from wearable technology to freedom of expression online; and addressing the latter, he spoke harshly of David Cameron’s creeping Internet censorship policies.

“We’ve seen the government pressurising The Guardian about publishing various stories and that seems to be intensifying. I saw last week that David Cameron said something new and rather astonishing about it,” he said, referencing the PM’s recent threats to the media over publishing sensitive material. Wales believes such behaviour could have a corrosive threat on Internet freedom worldwide.

“If the West loses moral leadership for openness, freedom of speech and the protection of dissidents, the world’s in big trouble,” he said.

Apple could be out innovated by open source Android

With open source at the heart of the Alfresco software philosophy, it wasn’t surprising that this sentiment was a pretty popular one over in Barcelona this week.

In his keynote speech on day two, CSC: Leading Edge Forum researcher Simon Wardley went as far as stating Android’s upper hand as a matter of fact. "The problem isn't that Apple has stopped innovating,” he told the conference. “It's that it's being out innovated by Android.”

Staving off this threat of inertia is the fundamental challenge for the modern tech company, Wardley argued, and fully embracing the cloud should be a company’s first step to ensure the business processes are up to date, and up to scratch.

"Cloud is very simple. It's about efficiency, agility and new sources of worth," he said. "Yes, we have inertia to cloud – that's normal. But you don't have a choice. It's not a question of if, it's only ever a question of when...We've had years to prepare for this change."

Creatives are ousting geeks on tech’s front line

“The world of software is getting more creative. We’re leaving behind the geeky past and going into a far more creative future, where technology is driven by the creative types as much as it is driven by the highly intellectual and technical types.”

That was the verdict of Alfresco co-founder John Newton in his eagerly-observed keynote address last week. In particular, Newton believes creatives will rise to the fore thanks to big data’s explosion in the enterprise, as the need grows for outside-the-box thinkers who can harness the data produced, and crucially, put it into effect on end users and customers.

Skilful handing of data will separate the innovators from those who remain static in business, he argued. “It’s not just about data, it’s the interpretation of how human beings think about it, and add value to that date," Newton told his audience.

"It’s not just part of a filing system, it’s information in context. About where you are, how it’s being used, and even the state of mind of that person using it. It’s about creativity. To take that interpretation and make it compelling, make it viral, make it contagious."

Alfresco's eyeing the big boys

Doug Dennerline, who joined Alfresco as CEO at the beginning of the year, believes his new charges can emulate the success of other startups-gone-big, Box and Dropbox.

The firm has enjoyed steady growth since its inception in 2005, but it is clear Dennerline wants to propel the group to new heights. Whisper it quietly, but a big-money IPO in 2014 may well be Alfresco's ticket to the higher echelons of the tech world.

"There's a lot of really positive energy in the company. We're expanding on a high growth basis and one of the other things we're trying to do is make some noise in the market," he said. "You hear a lot about Box, Dropbox and others - we need to start standing up and making some noise ourselves."