Transcript of Vignette Collaboration
White PaperJune 2006
Vignette® CollaborationTailored to your Needs
Table of Contents Executive Summary .................................................................. 1Today’s Business Challenges ...................................................... 2 Getting Closer to Customers .................................................. 2 Retaining Profitable Customers ................................................ 2 Aligning and Evolving with Changing Processes ....................... 2 Meeting Compliance and Record Keeping Mandates ................ 3 Capturing Knowledge from Retiring Employees......................... 3 Finding the Experts ................................................................ 3 Accessing and Utilizing Information from Applications............... 3Managing Knowledge ............................................................. 4 Data, Metadata, Information and Knowledge ........................... 4 Unstructured Knowledge is the Key ......................................... 4Enterprise Collaboration – Improving Knowledge Management ..... 4 The New Extended Enterprise ................................................. 4 Collaboration and KM: A Symbiotic Relationship ...................... 5Key Considerations for a Successful Collaboration Solution ........... 6Vignette Collaboration .............................................................. 6 Collaborative Workspaces .................................................... 7Collaborative Business Processes .............................................. 10 Workflow ........................................................................... 10 Desktop Integration ............................................................. 11 Search and Query .............................................................. 11 Knowledge Agents .............................................................. 12 E-mail Integration ................................................................ 13 Participate in Threaded Discussions ....................................... 14 Capture Correspondence in Folders ...................................... 14 Contribute Documents to Shared Workspaces ......................... 15 Publish Call Reports or Other Typical Form Data ..................... 15 Maintain URLS and Links ...................................................... 15 Participate in Document Approvals ........................................ 16 Receive Workflow Prompts ................................................... 16 E-mail Management, Compatibility, and Security .................... 16 E-mail Address Management ................................................ 17 E-mail Compatibility and Security .......................................... 17 E-mail Handling: Vignette Collaboration Advantages ............... 18 Vignette Collaboration C-mail Services .................................. 19 Document and Content Management .................................... 19 Productivity Tools ................................................................ 20 Support for Multiple Languages ............................................ 21 Web Services and Standards ............................................... 21 Comprehensive Security Model ............................................ 22 Integration with Other Vignette Products ................................ 22Collaborative Solutions ........................................................... 23 Vignette Strategic Account Management ................................ 23 Vignette Project Delivery ...................................................... 24A Collaborative Framework ..................................................... 25 Integration with CRM Applications ........................................ 25 Portal-Ready Solutions ......................................................... 26 Rich Development Environment ............................................. 27 High Availability ................................................................. 29 Open Architecture............................................................... 29Summary .............................................................................. 30
Though times have changed, your primary business drivers probably haven’t: profitability, productivity and providing value for customers. Over the last decade, due in part to continuing technological advances, customer expectations have risen and new products and services are brought to market at an ever-increasing pace. Satisfying customers and producing quality products no longer guarantees success-—you must also react quickly to changing market conditions and anticipate customer needs. In order to be successful, companies must realize two key elements for achieving success: efficient use of existing resources and leveraging business relationships.
A new model for more efficiently conducting business, called enterprise collaboration involves the use of technology, processes and corporate intelligence to effectively collaborate and share knowledge across the extended enterprise. Collaboration is critical to increasing customer loyalty and driving profits from strategic customer relationships in service industries such as professional services, marketing, and financial services. Collaboration is also essential to driving profitability and competitive differentiation in fast-moving industries such as technology, telecommunications and large-scale manufacturing. While collaboration once occurred largely in meetings or around the water cooler, today’s companies face the daunting task of facilitating collaboration across geographic boundaries with people inside and outside your organization such as customers, suppliers, and partners.
A large portion of your company’s knowledge is unstructured, residing in e-mail, on desktops, in documents and on Web pages. Maximizing the value of unstructured knowledge is essential to realizing the potential of enterprise collaboration; capturing day-to-day interactions and utilizing their value across your organization is the missing link.
Prior attempts to bridge the gaps between unstructured information sources focused on publishing and accessing data already captured by structured processes. Vignette
Collaboration is a robust and secure enterprise collaboration solution that improves sharing and teaming across your enterprise; and supports customer satisfaction by not only capturing best practices and corporate knowledge, but leveraging that knowledge to accelerate responses to customer requests, proposals, resolutions and new ideas. In addition, Vignette Collaboration is fast and easy to integrate with common solutions such as portals, document and content management systems, and project management tools. These individual solutions, when combined with Vignette Collaboration, provide the depth and breadth of functionality required to effectively leverage unstructured knowledge. Most organizations share documents and related information with co-workers and partners using e-mail attachments, which are neither manageable nor secure. And though groupware-based applications are common and well adopted, adding collaborative features to these types of process-specific applications often results in “stovepipes” of collaboration. Vignette Collaboration is part of a fully integrated Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform by Vignette which fully supports the entire information value-chain—from collaborative creation to document and records management, imaging and workflow, and personalized targeted delivery within and outside your firewall.
Businesses today want to strengthen relationships, drive productivity, and increase communication among employees, partners, and customers. To do this, you need a solution that can serve as the foundation for all knowledge sharing and storage; tying together unstructured and process-specific knowledge in an environment where people can truly collaborate across the breadth of the extended organization. You need a solution with a scalable infrastructure tightly integrated with existing business applications: a true collaboration solution that transparently and securely ties people on the outside to the resources on the inside. You need Vignette Collaboration.
Vignette Collaboration enables people to:
• Create, gather, and manage unstructured knowledge, including e-mail and Web-based information.
• Work together and communicate on large, distributed, cross-organizational teams, across distance, time zones and organizational boundaries.
• Discuss, analyze, review, and approve information collaboratively.
• Discover, learn from, reuse and contribute to the knowledge of the extended organization.
• Develop and sustain relationships with colleagues, partners and customers.
• Access information and documents stored in Vignette Collaboration easily and remotely, via e-mail and Web clients.
• Search in native languages for expertise and information.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Vignette Collaboration works the way people work. Vignette Collaboration features fit tightly with existing work practices so that people can actually use them.
Vignette Collaboration is part of an integrated ECM family of products that can help organizations grow their business, increase productivity, reduce costs, manage risk and improve interactions with key constituents. Vignette’s ECM family of products allows organizations to manage the complete information lifecycle to optimize business processes, share information,, integrate with applications, personalize delivery of global applications through multiple channels or devices, and control documents and records. Using Vignette, organizations can leverage their records, documents, Web pages, images, e-mails, multimedia, Web transactions, faxes, database records and other unstructured content to create new opportunities, expand profits and realize greater savings and efficiencies.
Today’s Business Challenges
Technology and globalization have revolutionized the nature of business relationships, and the rapid pace of innovation can literally turn today’s great
accomplishments into tomorrow’s old news. Through all this, one thing is constant: to be successful, you must be responsive to the needs of your customers, which requires being responsive to changes in the market.
Getting Closer to Customers
Although technological advances enable you to reach customers halfway around the world, customers only reward companies that are able to establish relationships with them., Global customers demand that you as a vendor provide consistent, personalized service levels across geographies and business units.
In addition, you face the challenge of providing personalized experiences to an increasingly diverse customer base. Without more effective management and warehousing of the insights from interactions with customers, partners, suppliers and employees, you will not effectively meet the needs of your customers. Furthermore, while you prospect across geographies, your competitors do the same. This competition heightens the need to establish and maintain solid relationships.
Retaining Profitable Customers
Your existing customers typically represent the greatest opportunity for consistent growth and profitability. Those customers also represent your company’s revenue base—lose those customers and your revenue base erodes. Manage the customer in a way that doesn’t maximize earnings and your base of profitability erodes. The challenge is to enable your customer-facing employees with the applications, infrastructure, and information to best serve the right customers.
Aligning and Evolving with Changing Processes
Continuing advances in technology and the growing impact of globalization are two forces changing the basics of how people work. More than ever, you and your colleagues work in extended business-to-business communities that include consultants, partners, suppliers, customers, and employees from all over the world. Your business processes must now continue to function across
geographies—and multiple constituents, as well Companies must dramatically change how they collaborate in order to continue to work effectively. Vignette Collaboration can produce cost savings for your organization by streamlining business processes and collaboration.
Meeting Compliance and Record Keeping Mandates
If your organization must comply with governmental regulations, process can mean the difference between success and failure. To avoid stiff fines, punitive sanctions and possible bad press, you must comply and you must be able to prove it. Whether it’s regulations stipulated in the United States by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); or whether it’s Basel II in Europe, compliance can add significant complexity to your operations—and add significantly to operational costs.
Enterprise collaboration integrated with a records management system can help you minimize the increase in operational costs. But to succeed, records need to be captured from the collaboration solution as a natural outcome of user actions and processes. Since traditional records management systems are designed for records managers and not for information workers, their user interfaces are tend to be complex and cumbersome. Enterprise collaboration not only provides a better user interface, it can also automate records management tasks so that they are transparent to the information workers.
Vignette is uniquely positioned to provide the best of both worlds by providing an integrated solution that includes enterprise collaboration as well as records management. For more information on the Vignette Collaborative Record and Document Management Solution, please visit http://www.vignette.com.
Capturing Knowledge from Retiring Employees
There are costs associated with employee turnover: finding a suitable replacement, training the new hire, decreased learning-curve productivity, and more. Even after assuming these costs, the new hire will not have all
of the departing employee’s experience and unstructured knowledge. Your organization must spend additional time, and perhaps customer relationship capital, to completely train the new worker. And the pressures of employee turnover don’t stop there, because the consequent loss of unstructured knowledge with each departing worker adds another cost to your business.
Finding the Experts
Organizations that seek to reduce call times and respond more quickly to questions often seek to leverage their experts or best practices and find ways to spread their knowledge. The larger the organization or the greater number of services and products, the greater likelihood that “expertise” and best practices are often held in silos or with few individuals. However, you can quickly resolve urgent customer problems if you know the name of the expert. But, too often, even if you knew the name, the ‘expert’ is likely to reside in a different country and time zone which add to the delays and threatens customer satisfaction. To find best practices or experts within your organization you need to be able to find and share the information.
Accessing and Utilizing Information from Applications
As your organization grows and diversifies, your employees must utilize an increasing number of business applications, while addressing the need for more efficient personal communication with partners, suppliers and customers. These varied business applications lead to an increasing number of “stovepipes”, or “silos,” of stored information. Important information might be located in an e-mail, spreadsheet, on an Intranet site, on a jotted note or sitting on someone’s hard drive. Ensuring the right people have access to the right information in the right form at the right time can create a seemingly impossible challenge. The silos must be restructured. In addition, new technology constantly arrives through your organization as Internet standards like Web interfaces, Java and Web Services are applied to internal systems. These new technological approaches require you to have a strategy to keep existing applications relevant to the growing extended organization.
Data, Metadata, Information and Knowledge
A discussion of business knowledge first requires a review of some key terms: data, metadata, information and knowledge. Data are the bits and bytes, the basic raw material of the information age. Metadata are data about data: who contributed given data when, in what format, and any associated attributes of that data. Information is data made meaningful through this meta-data with added context, and summary.
Data Information Knowledge
Meta-data, context, summary
Figure 1. Data, Metadata, Information, Knowledge
Knowledge is broader and deeper than information and data. Knowledge is a mix of values, experience, and insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. While these characteristics make knowledge valuable, they also make it more difficult to manage.
Unstructured Knowledge is the Key
Successful knowledge management requires enabling, managing and reusing the qualitative information and relationships that enabled those interactions. Every interaction, or transaction has, on average, a history of 15 to 20 multiple collaborative events that led up to it.
Without that unstructured history, information about the transaction fails to fully describe it. With that history, information becomes knowledge.
Clearly, knowledge management (done properly) brings enormous benefits: you realize the importance of managing knowledge to meet business challenges. In fact, second-generation Knowledge Management will only grow because today your company’s value centers on its intangibles: competencies, relationships and knowledge, particularly the unstructured kind. Good Knowledge Management technologies capture these intangibles and provide a context for their application and preservation within your business environment; a process that not only strengthens organizational competitiveness and long-term growth potential, it builds company value.
Enterprise Collaboration— Tailored to Your Business Needs
The New Extended Enterprise
Today’s product and service companies work across departments, time zones and organizational boundaries. Hidden inside the term “extended enterprise” is the reality that in this new age of business, companies have become inter-dependent, working together in a dynamic environment where survival depends on the quality and breadth of alliances. A successful modern business has no visible seams between “internal” and “external” resources.
More than just transactions, business means trust, relationships and delivering long-term, sustained value. Companies have long established that building and nurturing customer relationships creates value. In order to maximize their return on relationships, companies seek ways to drive additional revenues and profits from those relationships. More than customer relationships, companies now realize the necessity and potential value of nurturing enterprise alliances as well.
Collaboration and Knowledge Management: A Symbiotic Relationship
How can you deliver goods and services with greater speed, consistency and quality? How can you tap into and leverage the combined intellectual capital of your employees, customers and partners? The answer is collaboration.
In practical terms, enterprise collaboration consists of three primary elements:
• Coordination – Managing basic logistics behind any business process or activity, the order and direction of steps in a shared task
• Efficiency – Avoiding redundancy through coordination and consolidation
• Synergy – Sharing knowledge for innovation: the optimal state of collaboration
When applied to the extended enterprise, coordination, efficiency and synergy create immense value, enabling more effective use of your resources. This leads to cost savings, revenue generation, and additional value for your customers.
Enterprise collaboration serves as a foundation for all information sharing, tying together unstructured and structured knowledge in an environment where people work together, learn from each other and integrate information from the larger enterprise. Enterprise collaboration supports applications that integrate the people-to-people activities of customer relations management (CRM) Supply Chain Management (SCM), and Business Process Management (BPM). More than groupware or point solutions, enterprise collaboration truly offers you the opportunity to tap into the collective expertise of your organization, regardless of organizational, geographic, or time boundaries.
Crossing such boundaries is no small matter. People can get online from virtually anywhere, but if they want to do collaborative work outside the corporate perimeter they typically either sacrifice functionality or manage
cumbersome security challenges. Enterprise collaboration helps move beyond such issues to anywhere, anytime collaboration.
In effect, enterprise collaboration works the way people work, creating a solution to fit the enterprise, instead of conforming the enterprise to the solution. Enterprise collaboration utilizes common personal work functions and tools to create a seamless collaborative environment, one which easily captures knowledge as it is created and increases the value of that knowledge on every reuse, creating an upward-spiraling loop of constantly enriched, refined and integrated knowledge.
Supply Chain Management
Figure 2. Enterprise Collaboration Model
An enterprise collaboration solution provides the following:
• Collaborative workspaces – In the business context, people collaborate to make decisions, solve problems and review progress. Collaborative workspaces enable such collaboration over time, space and organizational boundaries. Because every business and every business situation has unique needs, workspaces must be highly configurable and configurable by users, making workspace implementation timely and with reduced administrative burdens.
• Seamless desktop integration – Employees spend considerable time working in desktop applications, which capture, store and process information. The drawback is that these applications create information silos on each worker’s computer. By integrating with desktop applications, enterprise collaboration removes this barrier and helps workers share and find information.
• Rich e-mail integration – E-mail serves as the ubiquitous communication solution today and is the most universally deployed and heavily used application on the desktop. E-mail is easy to use, thus employees are comfortable with it. A true enterprise collaboration solution must leverage the use of e-mail without disrupting the typical uses of this powerful communication tool.
• Integration with enterprise applications – An enterprise collaboration solution must enable the collaborative processes to share data with existing business applications, fit the collaborative processes into the enterprise infrastructure and be flexible enough to adapt to future changes in the business environment.
• Comprehensive support for the mobile worker – An enterprise collaboration solution must support the existing work habits of all workers, including those that aren’t always bound to a desk. The solution must ensure that these mobile workers are able to engage in core collaborative processes through e-mail (including offline) and e-mail-enabled mobile devices.
• Expert identification – Large global organizations can benefit by finding the experts within their organization. Enterprise collaboration helps identify individuals via robust search capabilities that have proven expertise on specific issues.
• Enterprise strength – Organizations that value information, quickly find that collaborative environments grow from sharing knowledge and require that the collaboration environment scales to store the millions of objects for both storage and search.
Key Considerations for a Successful Collaboration Solution
Many collaboration solutions exist on the market today, so it is important that you find a flexible solution that has the capabilities required to meet your specific business needs. Some collaboration solutions only offer rigid, “one size fits all” workspaces that cannot be easily adapted to your specific business needs. When selecting a collaboration solution, be sure to thoroughly investigate the solution’s ability to meet your specific business requirements. Capabilities such as templates, out-of-the-box process support, and roles-based security provide a flexible basis for building a collaboration solution tailored to your business.
In addition to a flexible foundation, the collaboration solution should offer out-of-the-box integration with desktop productivity applications and e-mail. Solutions that require special server configurations and/or client-side software installations in order to integrate with desktop applications have a higher cost of ownership. This higher cost comes from the additional time and resources required to launch and maintain the solution.
In order to realize the highest return on your investment, you should choose a collaboration solution that offers maximum scalability, modularity, and easy integration with other applications. Collaboration solutions that depend on loosely integrated technologies from different vendors will not allow you easily adapt your solution as your needs change. To protect your investment and allow for the highest returns, consider a collaboration solution that natively integrates with records and document management, portals, and content management.
Vignette Collaboration was built on the philosophy that the best way to address enterprise collaboration is to build a Web-based, collaborative workspace inside an existing application environment that reaches the entire extended enterprise. Such a solution should act as an
enterprise knowledge source, facilitate many-to-many collaboration, and in turn generate greater value as it integrates, manages and—through reuse—constantly increases the value of your intellectual capital.
Although today most people in your organization collaborate and communicate, they most often do so through ad-hoc processes using single-purpose applications such as e-mail and productivity applications. While these forms of communication and collaboration seem to satisfy the immediate need, they lack the capacity to capture information and knowledge for later use. As an example, consider how easily documents and e-mails can be lost, whether due to system failure, organizational changes, the end of a partnership or an individual’s departure from your organization. Vignette Collaboration offers you the ability to replace the ad-hoc methods in use today with out-of-the-box, shared online workspaces that capture the critical information and intellectual property shared through e-mail and productivity applications so that the information and intellectual property can be leveraged and re-used when appropriate. By replacing these ad-hoc methods and informal processes with online workspaces, employees in your organization gain the benefits of access to the information in the workspace without adversely changing the way they work on a daily basis. Specific capabilities of Vignette Collaboration enable:
• Increased team communication, efficiency and productivity with workspace features such as powerful search and index functionality, rich subscription and notification capabilities, and robust security and access control for improved knowledge sharing.
• Improved ability for non-technical users to quickly create shared secure, online workspaces to deliver dashboard views, subscriptions and notifications to keep team members up-to-date on revised items.
• Combined full-text search and relational query capabilities to present information in the right business context, and utilizes knowledge agents that make Vignette Collaboration invaluable for leveraging corporate knowledge to complete work faster and more efficiently.
• Quickly access or tailor business processes for the organization to include: check-in and checkout content, collaborate on issues, comment on documents and participate in approval workflows directly through tight e-mail integration.
• Quickly identify subject matter experts through skills-based, topical, or text searches on information contained within the workspaces.
• Exceed the demands of the entire organization for sharing documents and best practices, as well as the growth of the applications by supporting millions of objects to store, search and find.
Collaborative workspaces are digital environments created by workers that bring together projects, processes and people—from disparate groups including employees, customers, suppliers and partners. They may be thought of as secure spaces where employees work seamlessly with partners, customers, prospective customers, or any other audience, thereby creating a more productive, efficient and agile enterprise. In a collaborative workspace, documents, e-mail, Web pages, or any other information objects can be organized, preserved, published, shared and retrieved for later reuse.
Collaborative workspaces can be as simple as folders, or as rich as task-specific work environments drawn from a library of predefined collaboration models, such as project spaces and customer Extranets. These special workspaces can contain custom content such as best practices and template documents, and have custom appearances, such as a customer Extranet co-branded with customer and vendor logos. Workspaces can have individualized security policies that allow groups of people with different roles from multiple organizations to safely work together. Also, workspaces can have custom workflow interfaces, designed to support specific work practices such as managing projects, completing a proposal, or managing customer support.
Vignette Collaboration Solutions
Discover, Contribute, Share
Disseminate, Re-UseDiscuss, Keep Informed
Figure 3. Fundamental Collaborative Activities
In addition, each user has access to a personal page where he or she can launch private workspaces to capture information only they can access. Personal pages provide you with access to your notifications, as well as a public area and a private area. You can link workspaces you use frequently to your personal page for easy access and also receive notifications of changes to information. You also can establish group links to publish information to teams, groups and cross-enterprise communities using e-mail or uploads directly to selected workspaces. Personal workspaces are important to a collaboration environment because people often work on tasks, processes or documents, for example, alone and then selectively share the materials with others. Personal workspaces afford you the full benefits of working online, while eliminating the issue of having to switch tools or duplicate files to share information.
Figure 4. Personal workspace
In personal workspaces, users decide which access policies are appropriate for their own content. Within the same workspace, for instance, a user can place documents for owner use only, selectively publish some but not all documents, allow some people to jointly edit some documents but not others, and so forth. In large-scale cross-organizational collaboration, people can preserve the original context of content by selectively allowing others to see or manipulate it.
Commenting on shared information is a common form of collaboration; such as e-mails that contain attachments or pointers to information with commentary about why the information merits attention. Vignette Collaboration makes commenting a structured way to talk about information. Comments can be quick one-liners, akin to yellow sticky notes, or full-blown memos with attached documents. Like e-mail, comments can form conversational threads of replies. Unlike e-mail, however, Vignette Collaboration comments are linked with, but not part of, the referenced information.
Referenced information can be a document stored in Vignette Collaboration, or a Web link hosted on another Web server represented in the workspace as a Web document. Vignette Collaboration stores only one copy of the referenced information, with its context visible from the comment. This collaboration around shared content, as opposed to collaboration around institutionalized conversations, spares the creation of the all-too-common blanket e-mails that go unread.
Commenting also serves as a powerful end-user technique for creating and capturing metadata about shared information. A user can comment on a particular piece of information’s relevance and quality by marking it with an attribute such as “highly recommended.” By using such conventions in the text of comments, end users can invent and maintain their own collaborative review processes without programming databases, designing forms, programming workflow or special purpose applications.
Vignette Collaboration also manages multiple conversations about the same information. Collaboration comments have a unique and particularly useful
capability for collaborative review of content such as documents or Web pages. Comments are situated in context, represented by workspaces in the group memory. Since Vignette Collaboration objects can have multiple contexts, there can be a different stream of independent commentary in each folder in which a document appears. This allows, for example, engineering and marketing to add their distinct perspectives to the same specification document. With access control, these multiple conversations can be kept private while the document discussed remains public.
Figure 5. Document with Comments
Using branded Extranet workspaces – Business platforms typically do not allow external users access to information inside the firewall, which greatly complicates collaborative efforts for an extended organization. Such limitations force partners in a given project to use such lesser tools as group e-mails with attachments, faxes, or snail mail to do what could take a fraction of the time if all parties were behind the firewall.
Vignette Collaboration enables your organization to extend the power of collaborative workspaces to your customers and to members of your extended organization with full object-level access control, which greatly facilitates collaboration between persons on different sides of the firewall. In addition, Vignette Collaboration provides considerable flexibility in tailoring the user interface. When a customer sees their brand in the workspace, it serves to reinforce both
companies’ commitment to success, and in turn builds confidence that furthers the relationship.
• Co-branded workspaces – Design familiarity leverages branding across workspaces. Because Vignette’s collaborative workspaces can be readily adapted to match corporate branding elements, customers, suppliers, and partners each find a familiar look and feel when using the workspaces.
• Solutions are adopted and used – Vignette Collaboration provides a solution for your specific needs and background, which reduces the learning curve and raises the adoption rate. Furthermore, the Vignette Collaboration collaborative Extranet capability allows you to make simple changes, allows for the addition of rich new object types that map to specific business processes, and integrates workflow with other applications. All this helps ensure that the workspace becomes a place to work together, not just a reporting site.
• Secure Extranet deployment – Extranet security requires rigorous content access control and a secure deployment model. With regard to access control, Vignette Collaboration employs a robust and reliable security model.. Secure deployment requires a robust multi-tier operating environment. Vignette Collaboration runs on proven operating systems and supports most enterprise-class databases.
• Economical scalability – Because of the security features inherent in Vignette Collaboration, many collaborative Extranet workspaces can be deployed on a single server, thus reducing cost of ownership and improving your return on investment.
Figure 6. Vignette Collaboration in the Extranet
Collaborative Business Processes
Successful collaborative workspaces will model specific business processes. Instead of providing generic, “one-size-fits-all” workspaces, Vignette Collaboration provides the ability to easily create workspaces that map directly to your specific process. In order to create these workspaces, you select the appropriate components (document libraries, discussions, dashboards, tasks, calendars, etc) and then model your process within those components.
As an example, consider how your organization manages the flow of your Sales deals. Deal flow management is complex in that it requires you to manage financial data, documents, and other content from idea through proposal and commitment to closure. Many of your deals are complex—they involve multiple functional groups (sales teams, legal, finance, etc.) and can even involve multiple lines of business. These deals are labor intensive since they require extensive, detailed documentation and significant amounts of communication. How many systems do you use today to manage the flow of your deals?
By creating deal flow workspaces using Vignette Collaboration, you can centralize and capture all of your documentation and communication in one central repository. This makes it possible for you to improve efficiency by reducing your costs, improving team productivity, leveraging skills and experiences, and reducing the ramp-up time for deal teams. Additionally, you can increase management visibility by providing easy access to deal status, forecast roll-ups, and reports on overall account relationship health.
As another example, consider how your Sales teams manage the process of responding to RFP’s. It is common for Sales teams to work together on RFP responses by e-mailing versions of the response document back and forth through an ad-hoc process. This is an inefficient way to create an RFP response since the information becomes distributed and cannot be easily re-used for future responses. More importantly, this method of
creating responses is risky. How often do individuals suffer hardware failures? How easy is it to become confused to the point of mixing up document versions and overwriting other’s work?
By using collaborative workspaces to manage the process of creating RFP responses, you gain an ever-growing repository of information that you can use for future RFP responses. Since the workspaces capture and manage all of the different document versions, you don’t have to worry about losing valuable information. Your teams working on the responses continue to use their desktop applications and e-mail to complete the work, while the collaborative workspace captures all of the information. The entire process of creating RFP responses is greatly simplified since the response workspaces route the documents to each individual through an organized process.
Workflows are critical components for creating workspaces that map to your specific business processes. Vignette Collaboration provides you with a “configure-and-go” approach for modeling collaborative business processes. These processes can be simple, linear processes for document approval, or complex processes for coordinating the execution of your Sales deals. With the easy to use process designer included with Vignette Collaboration, you can easily model virtually any business process. Additionally, you can apply the workflows you design to documents, to folders, or to entire workspaces.
Workflows created within Vignette Collaboration route items to stages based on pre-defined actions and rules that you establish. You can include notifications (either via e-mail or through the workspaces) to inform people of a required action, or to keep them current on the ongoing progress. You can also use notifications to send out warnings or escalations based on upcoming or missed deadlines. And of course Vignette Collaboration tracks every action so that you have the ability to audit full processes and specific tasks.
You can model cross-departmental processes by creating nested workflows (workflows within workflows), and you can apply access policies to workflows in order to secure who can contribute to a workflow or to a workflow stage. You can also use access policies to secure who can act on or route an item to a destination for a workflow stage, and to secure what items users can see within a workflow.
One of the key capabilities of an enterprise collaboration solution is the ability to add collaborative benefits without requiring users to change the way they work. By integrating with common desktop productivity applications, Vignette Collaboration makes it simple for you to share information with others while still working with your preferred desktop applications. You can edit documents in their native applications directly from within a workspace by simply clicking on the document name. Once you have finished editing the document, all you have to do is save the file as you normally would. Once saved, the new version of the document is available in the workspace.
Vignette Collaboration also provides WebDAV integration so that you can view the contents of your workspaces through Microsoft Windows Explorer views. This integration enables drag-and-drop capabilities so that you can easily move documents and files into and out of your workspaces. Each workspace that you “view as a Web folder” becomes a shortcut in your “My Network Places” folder in Microsoft Windows. Using these shortcuts, you can also save new documents into workspaces directly from your preferred applications.
Vignette Collaboration also provides native instant messaging integration. Through this connection to Microsoft Live Communications Server, synchronous collaboration features are available directly within your workspaces. You can launch instant messaging sessions with members of your workspace using the presence icons that are displayed in the workspace. Each icon lets know whether or not an individual is online and available for a chat.
Search and Query
A knowledge management solution must address the function of finding specific information. Vignette Collaboration includes a powerful search mechanism for locating information from anywhere in the group memory and displaying it in the context in which it was previously relevant. Full-text indexing of all metadata and over 200 binary data types allows retrieval by textual content, custom metadata, information type, author, date or location in the group memory. Vignette combines a high performance commercial information retrieval engine with proprietary query preprocessing that optimizes for the kinds of queries performed in a collaborative, knowledge reuse environment. Vignette Collaboration is unique in its handling of metadata: it seamlessly combines relational queries, such as “find all objects of type ‘white paper’ with attribute ‘completed in the past six months’” and information retrieval queries, such as “find all documents containing the name ‘John Doe’ and the noun phrase ‘sales opportunity.’”
In the following example, “Get all ‘proposals’ from ‘accounts’ in ‘west’ that reference the product ‘xyz;’ the proposal is a specific document type, calling it out will eliminate potential false hits that are from marketing material. ‘Accounts’ further reduces the list to existing customers; ‘west’ limits the geography and ‘with reference to ‘product xyz’ is a full text query across the entire proposal which insures that more than just titles, summaries and system meta-data is searched.
Vignette Collaboration also provides a flexible user interface for query specification, result list presentation, and query reformulation, allowing each aspect of the search to be customized. You can create custom query forms for different kinds of searches, for example: find a document known to exist, find an expert by what they have written, find a prior proposal in a given area, or find a best practice. You can view the search results within context, which is powerful for determining relevance, or you can create custom “reports” that show the search results as rows and columns of objects and their attributes.
Figure 7. Collaboration Advanced Search Form
Persistent queries – Few people use the search feature to its full potential, generally because most have not learned the best ways to use it to solve their business needs. Even developing a specific search query can be an exploratory process. Fortunately, Vignette Collaboration can make the knowledge developed in such processes available for sharing and reuse. Once a user has achieved the desired results from a query, he or she can save the search query, thus making it persistent and thereby creating a folder whose contents are those items that match the query. The persistent search object can then be named “How to find out what we know about customer X,” put in other folders, shared with others, and even commented on as if it were any other information source. When combined with customized result-list formatting, the persistent search capability is to the world of unstructured data what enterprise report generation interfaces are to structured data.
In any large organization, it is impossible to monitor every conversation, check every information source, and keep track of every project. Furthermore, in many collaborative situations, the user cannot know whom to keep informed. Vignette Collaboration overcomes these problems by offering knowledge agents—subscribing to a saved search. As you collect, create or discuss
information, agents can be triggered to inform you or others who are interested in the content. The originators need not anticipate the information needs of others and the information seekers don’t have to know whom to ask.
Subscription is a general information-processing concept that has been applied to a variety of information types under various marketing concepts such as “personal Web pages,” “push,” and “search agents.” Subscription is essentially a service that delivers a stream of information to fulfill an information need as stated by the subscriber. Stock quote services, news clipping services and subscription to public e-mail distribution lists are familiar examples of subscription services.
Vignette Collaboration provides a subscription service that delivers subscriptions for all types of information in the shared environment. The unique power of subscriptions is the precision by which you can indicate interest and completeness across all information sources.
For each kind of information object, there is an appropriate subscription service with special benefits:
• Subscription to workspaces – To keep informed of the collaborative activities in a project, you can subscribe to the project’s folder. When any document in that folder is uploaded or collected, Vignette Collaboration informs you of what happened, when and by whom. When combined with subscriptions, folders become collaborative workflow “in-baskets.” For example, when the deliverable document is ready, a user can place it in a “Deliverables” folder. Parties interested in the deliverables, like the customer team and the global account team, can subscribe to be notified automatically as a new item appears in the folder. The person doing the delivering does not need to know who should be informed when the deliverable is ready.
• Subscription to documents – A common collaborative task is sending a document out for review. By subscribing to a document, you can ask to be notified automatically when anyone makes a comment about that document. This allows free commentary without forcing the commentator to decide who should be sent
a copy or when they should be notified. Subscription to a document also informs the interested party when the document is revised.
• Subscription to Web-based objects – Vignette Collaboration treats Web objects like any other file or document in the system, even though they reside on a remote Web server. Web information objects include not only documents, like HTML and Adobe Acrobat files, but also virtual documents such as the results generated by an Internet search engine. When you subscribe to a Web object, Vignette Collaboration informs you when the page changes at the remote Web server. It does this by efficiently polling remote Web servers, using HTTP standard protocols, to determine whether a Web page has changed. The same subscription machinery also informs you when someone comments on the Web document, which helps in the collaborative review of Web materials hosted remotely, such as Web-based prototypes or proofs.
• Subscription to messages and comments – Vignette Collaboration helps answer questions by allowing you to subscribe to individual messages. For example, you can post a question to a general discussion list and be notified when a response is posted. Subscription to a comment works much the same way: you will be informed if anyone responds or expands upon the comment.
• Subscription to search – Subscription is an especially powerful tool when applied to search. When you conduct a search, the search returns the items that currently match the query. When you subscribe to a search, Vignette Collaboration notifies you whenever any objects are created or collected that match the query, whether it is tomorrow or next month. As such, subscribed searches are matched against the real-time flow of information in the group memory.
By applying subscription to the power of full-text search, extended with parameters for metadata such as person, workspace, date and object type, you can create information flows that support many of the business information needs that formerly required programming.
• “Inform me when a certain news feed service mentions a particular topic.”
• “Inform me when anyone mentions my customer’s name or product in the group memory.”
• “Inform me when anyone discovers a Web page that mentions our product.”
• “Inform me when the department manager says anything about my area of responsibility in a message, comment or report.”
• “Inform me about everything the CEO says.”
• “Inform me when progress is delayed.”
• “Inform me when specific goals (or numbers) are reached.”
Once the search and subscription agents find something of note, Vignette Collaboration notifies you through an interactive HTML display and/or an e-mail report. The HTML display, part of your personal page, shows up-to-the-minute status on all subscriptions and allows you to sort and manipulate the display to make best sense of the data. You can click directly to the objects mentioned in the display (documents, messages, comments, etc.).
E-mail reports provide notification on an instantaneous or periodic basis, depending on your preference. The e-mails contain URL pointers to the information being described; most modern e-mail systems allow you to click directly from the URL pointer to open the information in a Web browser. You can also have notifications sent to more than one e-mail address, enabling you to be notified by pager for urgent items or to notify other designated parties.
E-mail serves as the core of communication today. While the telephone is the primary vehicle for synchronous communications, e-mail is the medium by which most people participate in large group collaborations that span time zones and organizational boundaries. E-mail also serves as the most universally deployed and heavily
used application on the knowledge worker’s desktop; it’s something that everyone knows how to use.
E-mail integration lies at the core of Vignette Collaboration, not simply as a way to have conversations, but as an essential user-interaction medium. In large part, Vignette Collaboration simply becomes part of the e-mail user experience even though it is not an extension to the e-mail client or server. As a result, Vignette Collaboration enables you to use familiar tools and skills to participate fully in the collaborative workspace. You can send e-mail to a Vignette Collaboration object (discussions, folders, documents, account workspaces, project workspaces and others) just as you send e-mail to people.
Publish Form Data
Send Out Contents
Collaborative E-Mail Services
Comment On/Review Documents
Figure 8. How Vignette Collaboration Uses E-mail
Participate in Threaded Discussions
Vignette Collaboration discussions capture sequences of messages, organized by their conversational topics or “threads,” where each thread is a new topic with its branching tree of replies. Messages are contributed either by e-mail or a Web interface, and can include attachments, including documents and other messages. Vignette Collaboration stores and indexes all messages in a discussion, including attachments, for full-text search.
You can start a discussion from any folder, which puts the context of a discussion in the workspace where the
collaboration occurs, rather than on a list of unrelated discussions. You start and manage discussions, without administrator intervention, by assigning the e-mail address to the discussion and initiating the first message. You can choose to have copies of messages that are sent to discussions routed through e-mail to a list of recipients, or recipients can access such messages directly through the Web interface.
Vignette Collaboration discussions can also be used to involve outside participants in online collaborations, independent of whether they are registered users. This allows outsiders to receive copies of shared information and to contribute documents and commentary via their own e-mail clients. Discussions can be used as archives of conversations by putting the e-mail address of the discussion on the “cc:” of the messages in the conversation. Discussions can also be used as e-mail distribution lists, in which specified people receive copies of all message traffic going through the discussion.
Figure 9. Threaded Discussions
Capture Correspondence in Folders
Vignette Collaboration allows you to archive correspondence in folders by simply giving each folder an e-mail address. To capture and archive an e-mail-based exchange, simply include the address of the folder on the “cc:” line of the message. When the e-mail is replied to, a copy of each message is also captured in the Vignette Collaboration folder.
If you want to manually save any e-mail to a workspace, the message can simply be forwarded to the folder. Vignette Collaboration recognizes a forwarded message as content and recovers the original sender, title and date information. Using folders, you capture key information normally lost in personal e-mail. Vignette Collaboration allows you to share e-mail information in this way without sharing a common groupware infrastructure such as public folders or Lotus Notes databases.
Contribute Documents to Shared Workspaces
When you mail a message to a Vignette Collaboration folder, the message is parsed into its component parts and each part is made into an object. For example, if a message contains several attachments, each attachment becomes a Vignette Collaboration document object with all of the native properties of documents: automatically publishing with a unique URL, securing with access control policies, that can be linked to other contexts, checked out, versioned and so forth. If you mail a document to a folder without a surrounding message body, Vignette Collaboration strips away the message headers and treats the attachment as a stand-alone document. This mail-in document technique offers a simple way for you to contribute documents; particularly mobile workers who can create documents while offline and later mail them to the workspace.
Vignette Collaboration recovers the proper ownership of documents sent via e-mail, so the same security rules govern documents contributed via e-mail as those contributed via any other protocol, such as Web browser/HTTP, Web Folders/WebDAV, FTP or Java Application Program Interface (API).
Publish Call Reports or Other Typical Form Data
Messages or documents sent to folders can be automatically converted to data of a particular type with specific attributes. For example, all messages sent into a “Call Reports” folder for a particular customer can be converted to the type “call report” with the attribute of that customer. The data are then automatically displayed
with the custom HTML interface appropriate to the type, and the new objects are tagged for precision search. The conventional ways to accomplish the same task are cumbersome: to either use custom forms with fields for type and customer attributes, as in traditional document management workflow systems, or to “tag” content through a manual or semi-automated tagging procedure, as in older knowledge management solutions.
Maintain URLs and links
Vignette Collaboration automatically publishes each object with a permanent and unique URL be it a document, folder or an entire customized workspace. Vignette Collaboration enables you to e-mail to anyone a link to any object, which can be done directly from the Web interface. Since these URLs never change, the links function regardless of changes in the data. Known as the “Tell People” function, this ability to send links to content is very popular.
The “Tell People” feature can be initiated either through your e-mail system or through the HTML interface. If activated via the HTML interface, you have the option of sending a copy of the content, in addition to the link and their introductory text. This allows, for example, you to send the latest copy of a document to a customer or any other person who is not a registered user of the collaborative workspace. Vignette Collaboration logs the transaction of sending the content, in order to track what was sent when and to whom. Because the HTML e-mail interface is fully integrated with the rest of the applications environment, you can easily create streamlined forms for sending content to targeted people or to lists managed within Vignette Collaboration.
The combination of permanent identifiers and automatic Web publishing allows you to simply place content on a server and share it without having to e-mail a copy. The impact on mobile workers and e-mail storage management is obvious: when you send links rather than copies, you spare your colleagues the download expense of a large attachment, you ensure connection to the latest version, and you avoid the need to maintain
personal libraries of all the content you utilize. In practice, you can use your Inbox to maintain links to content stored in Vignette Collaboration. In addition, because each object in Vignette Collaboration has its own URL, you can utilize browser bookmark functions to maintain links as well.
Participate in Document Approvals
Workers commonly send a copy of a document for review, and request comments by e-mail. Vignette Collaboration continues this type of interaction while reaping the benefits of the shared workspace. When a document is ready for review, you can send a message to the reviewers with the document address, instead of e-mailing the document to everyone. When the reviewers make edits to your document, there changes are saved as new versions so that you can easily manage all of the feedback. The reviewers can also mail comments, which form a threaded conversation about the document, much like a dedicated discussion. Replies to comments are also accurately threaded. And if the reviewers submit attachments with their comments, Vignette Collaboration processes any attachments to comments, such as rewritten sections, like any other attachments. Such commenting works with versioned documents as well, with a separate set of threads for each version.
Receive Workflow Prompts
When you submit a document to an approval workflow process, reminders are sent to approvers via e-mail, which creates an automated variant on the informal review process described above, using e-mail. In fact, any workflow can use any of the e-mail input or output features in its execution; they are all scriptable through Vignette Collaboration.
Figure 10. Subscriptions and Notifications
Receive notifications from subscription agents – Vignette Collaboration Subscription Agents support e-mail notification in the form of immediate, daily or weekly messages. The notification text can be modified on a per-subscription basis and can be directed to any e-mail address, as well as to any portable devices that have an e-mail address, such as a BlackBerry, Treo, pager, personal digital assistant (PDA) and/or cell phone (via Short Message Services, or SMS). The ability to create customized e-mail alerts is another way that Vignette Collaboration lets you tailor the system to your particular environment and work style.
E-mail Management, Compatibility and Security
Vignette Collaboration provides you with all of the above mentioned features and value without requiring any additional software on the client or the server. In other words, you benefit from all of the collaborative features of Vignette Collaboration using the e-mail clients and servers that you already have in place. As a result, Vignette Collaboration is compatible with virtually all corporate e-mail systems, and handles security and e-mail address management for collaboration objects independently of your e-mail system.
E-mail Address Management
Although Vignette Collaboration pervasively utilizes sending e-mail, it also makes managing and finding an e-mail address a simple task. Such addresses can be found in a number of ways.
First, Vignette Collaboration appears as a search-interface address book in your e-mail client, acting as a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) address server, if the client is LDAP-enabled (Microsoft Outlook, Netscape and some Lotus Notes clients). You enter a search string and Vignette Collaboration returns addresses with that string, based on the full text search capability. A search for “Acme” will return all discussions, folders and other related mentions with “Acme” in the title, description or any other metadata, even if “Acme” is not actually part of the e-mail address. Once found, the user can select the address for use in e-mail composition, or add it to a personal address book.
Secondly, finding the address of an object or a place in Vignette Collaboration using the HTML interface is simple through searching, browsing or by following a received link. The cover page of every object contains a “mailto” link with the e-mail address of that object. When you click on the “mailto” link, the browser opens your default e-mail client with the address automatically inserted in the “To:” field of the message. At that point, you can simply send the message or send and optionally add the address to your personal address book.
Lastly, submitters can also be told the e-mail address to which to send comments or to submit documents and other files. This is particularly useful when you are seeking input from people outside of the collaborative workspace. For example, you can publish an e-mail address for submitting a resume or responding to an event invitation, and submissions will go directly to the desired folder in Vignette Collaboration.
Every object or container within Vignette Collaboration has a static object-ID (OID), related to its URL. By default, Vignette Collaboration determines the e-mail address of
any object through this unique identifier. Alternatively, you can assign a more meaningful name, such as assigning the customer name to that customer’s workspace.
Using the deep e-mail integration capabilities of Vignette Collaboration, applications can mail messages that prompt approval, allow a document to be checked in, or perform any other workflow step. You can simply reply to these messages, and the reply goes automatically to the desired address in Vignette Collaboration.
E-mail Compatibility and Security
As noted above, Vignette Collaboration allows you to control the e-mail addresses of objects without any modification to your existing e-mail system. Being independent of a specific e-mail infrastructure is very important for collaboration with partners and customers outside the firewall. For example, a workspace might live within the firewall of a firm that runs Microsoft Exchange internally, and allow collaboration with people in a different part of the firm who use Lotus Notes e-mail, and with people outside the firewall who are use Mac Eudora through an Internet service provider. Vignette Collaboration does not download anything to your machine and doesn’t require that you use a specific e-mail client. It works purely as a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) peer.
The e-mail address for objects follow the Internet standards RFC 822 (e-mail address and message format) and RFC 2055 (MIME formats); as a consequence, any person who can send e-mail to the Internet can send e-mail to a collaborative workspace, even if the workspace is completely inside another organization’s firewall.
Regarding e-mail address assignment—Vignette Collaboration enforces name checking at an object’s time of creation in order to ensure a name/address has not been taken. Vignette Collaboration allows you and anyone else with the proper access to change the e-mail address of a folder after it has been assigned. Throughout the process, Vignette Collaboration safely keeps its
addresses apart from e-mail addresses assigned by mailbox servers. This allows e-mail addresses to be kept private, as you can create and contribute e-mail directly to a place in a workspace without that e-mail being mistakenly routed through some other program or person.
Lastly, all e-mail sent to and from a workspace is delivered through the standard enterprise infrastructure, meaning that all of the firewall, server isolation, virus protection, address validation and other security measures in place are automatically applied to Vignette Collaboration-related e-mail.
E-mail Handling: Vignette Collaboration Advantages
Other collaboration products use different schemes for bridging to e-mail. Two common approaches include using an external e-mail server to create dedicated mail-boxes and using a single e-mail address with routing rules.
The first approach creates a parallel e-mail service within the enterprise for collaboration addresses, distinct from the normal enterprise e-mail and user account namespace. To assign an e-mail address to a workspace, you must first create an inbox account through administrative software on the parallel e-mail service, and then enter the name of that account in your workspace. The workspace then polls the inbox, checking for new mail, and downloads it. This approach falls short in that it requires the administration of an independent e-mail server within the organization, often using a different technology than the organization has adopted for e-mail infrastructure. In addition, the parallel e-mail server is not subject to the same security and virus protections as the main server, unless you also duplicate all of those efforts for the new e-mail system. Vignette Collaboration creates no e-mail accounts, is not a Post Office Protocol (POP) or Internet Mail Application Protocol (IMAP) server, and cannot be used to reroute SMTP traffic from an anonymous client.
The second approach, using a single e-mail address, also poses security, reliability and scalability problems. It assigns the same e-mail address to all workspaces, but
relies on some key in the subject field or body of the message to indicate the correct destination, clearly complicating the user experience. Such an approach also requires a super-user account that can access all incoming e-mail, which effectively defeats the privacy model supported by Vignette Collaboration. Vignette is unique in its ability to enable you with the power of the collaborative workspaces without asking you to learn a new set of tools and support a redundant, duplicate e-mail system.
Moreover, Vignette Collaboration is:
• Self-contained and IT-friendly – Vignette Collaboration includes a complete SMTP server to manage system e-mail. As such, the enterprise e-mail system does not need to store messages bound for a collaborative workspace; they are forwarded directly. This has two critical advantages: Vignette Collaboration remains neutral with regard to e-mail clients, and leverages existing virus checking on the enterprise e-mail system. Vignette Collaboration simply requires a one-time setting of the forwarding rule by the e-mail administrator. Because the messages are forwarded by the enterprise gateway when they arrive, Vignette Collaboration requires no polling to retrieve messages, eliminating many scalability problems in a system with thousands of e-mail destinations. All e-mails and any attachments are stored directly in the Vignette Collaboration group memory, thereby eliminating the need for any additional resources such as disk backup systems.
• Extranet accessible – Virtually all organizations are structured to send and receive Internet e-mail. Because Vignette Collaboration e-mail addresses appear to be organizational destinations, e-mail integration can extend to people or organizations outside the firewall.
• Simple message management – Because every folder and object has its own unique e-mail address, Vignette Collaboration does not need rules-based systems to route messages to the appropriate folder. Messages to the system are fully indexed and stored as “message objects.” In this way, Vignette Collaboration provides the benefit of storing message content in the group
memory for search and re-use. Within any collaborative workspace, e-mail attachments are stored as independent objects connected to the original message object. Vignette Collaboration indexes the object and assigns the OID, usable with or without the parent message. As mentioned earlier, sending an attachment with no message text or heading has the effect of uploading the document directly. Vignette Collaboration threaded discussions manage the list of recipients and can include addresses of users that are not known users of the system. This allows specific topic discussions to be created that can include a partner or customer without having specific action required by the e-mail administrator. Furthermore, since every object or document has a unique OID, any messages addressed to those object types create a comment object associated to that document. In this way, feedback on a particular object can be posted in e-mail and reflected in the group memory.
Vignette Collaboration C-Mail Services
Unlike other collaboration solutions, Vignette Collaboration C-mail Services offer superior capability to access the rich collaborative environment through your mobile device or e-mail account. With C-Mail Services you can bring together the pervasiveness of e-mail and the ability to mediate and advance business processes using collaborative applications. C-Mail Services users have immediate access to the collaborative solution outside the firewall.
With C-Mail Services, Vignette offers a powerful tool for anywhere, anytime collaboration, serving as a vehicle that enables you to interact directly with enterprise systems so you can truly “live in e-mail” while collaborating in secure, shared workspaces. This increases productivity and removes process latency for mobile and remote users. With Vignette Collaboration C-Mail Services, the benefits are clear:
• By searching the repository and viewing the search hits in context through your wireless device, that device transforms into a powerful vehicle for accessing your corporate knowledge base
• By forwarding documents and search results from your mobile device, you impress customers and executives with timely responses to inquiries, and eliminate items on your to-do list
• By receiving notifications from your search agents, you remain in real-time contact with account teams and reduce process latency.
Vignette Collaboration offers a new level of security for e-mail transactions. C-Mail Services includes both authentication and authorization features that help ensure enterprise security and prevent fraudulent activity. For example, only the person that has “checked out” a document can check it back in, and e-mail contributions can only be made by authenticated IDs. C-Mail Services security supports all existing e-mail clients and does not require any additional software downloads.
Vignette Collaboration offers the unique capability of accessing workspaces and their rich collaborative features through mobile devices and through e-mail. Now even your mobile employees will benefit in real-time from the powerful capabilities of Vignette Collaboration. Specific features enable you to:
• Submit search requests through e-mail or mobile device
• View the text contents of search hits with context
• Receive notifications and alerts to your mobile devices
• Check in/out documents through e-mail
• Set up, capture and store discussion threads
• A new user interface tailored especially for mobile devices
• Support for mobile e-mail devices including BlackBerry, Compaq Ipaq, and Palm Treo devices
• Security features for e-mail transactions
Document and Content Management
Vignette Collaboration offers document and content management services for documents in the group
memory. Sometimes referred to as “library services”, these capabilities are critical for collaborative authoring, editing and reviewing since they help you ensure the integrity of the information.
• Document publishing and identity – Unique and permanent URLs identify all documents, independent of folder path. This allows collaboration around references to these documents, even as their contents and filenames change. For example, if you post a file to a workspace, the document’s URL remains the same even as new versions with different filenames are uploaded.
• Document locking – You can securely “check out” a document to change it. Locking differs from access control, which determines who has the right to potentially change the document. Vignette Collaboration provides long-duration locking so that people can collaboratively edit documents without accidentally overwriting each other’s work. Vignette Collaboration implements locking at the platform level, thereby enforcing it across all interfaces that have a locking concept. For example, if someone opens a Microsoft Office PowerPoint document using Web folders, the Microsoft Office PowerPoint software locks the document using the WebDAV protocol. If Vignette Collaboration sees a lock request over WebDAV, it enforces it over HTTP.
• Document versioning – Versioning allows a sequence of versions of the same document to be captured. When you enable versioning for a document, Vignette Collaboration automatically creates a sequence of documents with unique URLs when the document is saved or updated (preserving the stable URL for the most recent version). Vignette Collaboration allows independent commenting on each version, which is useful for capturing collaborative review of content such as specification documents, business proposals, and RFP responses. Furthermore, Vignette Collaboration enables you to check in and out documents and enforces version control through e-mail through the Vignette Collaboration C-Mail Services.
• Approval workflow – Vignette Collaboration also supports approval workflow processes that make it easy to route a document to the appropriate parties for approval. E-mail reminders are sent, allowing each individual to access the item by URL, then review, edit and comment. Throughout the process, Vignette Collaboration enforces access control.
Vignette Collaboration includes out-of-the-box templates for dashboards, tasks, calendars, and polls. As with any other collaboration object, you can customize any of these to fit your specific requirements. By using these templates, you can quickly and easily add additional information sharing options to your workspaces.
• Dashboards – Your executives and managers have a global view across departments, accounts and projects. From any workspace, you can create an activity dashboard that displays the status of, and links to, key business activities such as project plans, project issues, sales opportunities and customer requests. Each dashboard can be filtered for updates to these activities or display the status of all activities. You can configure the highly customizable dashboards to track activities for individuals, teams, business groups, or cross-enterprise communities.
Figure 11. Project Dashboard
• Tasks and Calendars – You can create calendars to communicate milestones, meetings and other key shared events for project teams, business groups, or cross-enterprise communities. Calendars integrate with Microsoft Office Outlook so users send their Vignette Collaboration calendar tasks to Microsoft Office Outlook and combine group activities and individual commitments into a single personalized view. Within each workspace, you can create tasks with owners, due dates, and priorities that link to the collaborative activities in the workspace. You receive automatic e-mail notifications of new tasks assigned to you including links to the workspaces that provide the background and business context for the tasks to be performed.
• Polls – From any workspace, you can launch polls to allow team members, business groups, or other enterprise groups to vote on topics or issues. You can also submit comments to explain your choices. Vignette Collaboration tabulates polling responses and displays them as graphics and as tables, enabling you and your teams to make quick decisions and also capture decision history and rationale for future reference.
Support for Multiple Languages
Vignette Collaboration supports the simultaneous display, storage, and search of documents and information in virtually any language, including Eastern European and Asian languages such as Russian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Simplified or Traditional Chinese, Turkish, and Greek. Workspaces can contain documents in different languages without any modification or customization. Regardless of the language, all documents and information are indexed and available for search and retrieval.
The Vignette Collaboration end user interface can also be localized into virtually any language. Although English is the default end user interface language that is provided out-of-the-box, Vignette Collaboration includes a Localization Development Kit (LDK) that enables the end user interface localization. Both of these capabilities
are provided through Vignette Collaboration’s support for the UTF-8 character set.
Figure 12. Sample workspace containing documents in multiple languages
Web Services and Standards
Vignette developers have created a tightly integrated and secure platform for collaborative business solutions. Low-level collaborative capabilities include features such as full-text indexing of over 200 document types, securing every object through rigorous policy management rules (regardless of the communication protocol), and keeping users informed of new information.
Vignette Collaboration includes rich protocol support (LDAP, FTP, HTTP, WebDAV, SMTP) including a fully supported Java API and a tag language used to develop Web-based user interfaces; all leveraging these core enterprise collaboration services in a way that protects the underlying data. For example, retrieving an object is the same whether the object is a Web document, a comment on an object, an e-mail, or something stored in Oracle or SQL Server.
A collaborative solution must be integrated into the way you and your colleagues work for it to be effective. Vignette Collaboration provides a robust mechanism for integrating collaboration into business practices through the highly flexible user interface with data and workflow integration. Vignette Collaboration accomplishes this through extensive standards support and open APIs. Because of its fine granularity, any portion of the user interface can be presented securely through any other HTML Web-enabled application such as an enterprise portal or a line of business application like Customer Relationship Management (CRM). In addition, user interface elements can be included in single-sign-on infrastructures. Events in one system can spawn events in Vignette Collaboration and vice versa.
Comprehensive Security Model
Vignette Collaboration supports a fundamental principal of access policy management wherein if you are not authorized to read or view a given object, then you should not know of its existence. For example, Vignette Collaboration filters all search results by your ability to read the object before it presents the search results to you. All protocols (FTP, HTTP, WebDAV, etc.) obey the same principal. If you log in under FTP, the information presented is the same as would be found in the HTTP interface. This “can’t read, can’t see” applies to all objects including: Users, Policies, Folders, Documents, Discussions, and any custom objects.
Vignette Collaboration allows you to easily decide which individuals or groups can read, modify, delete, or find information contained in the group memory. Your project teams can quickly develop and deploy access control policies suitable for extended teams throughout the organization. Five tiers of permissions can be assigned to individual objects, and to any combination of users and named groups within a given workspace. Vignette Collaboration treats access policies as information objects, and as such subjects them to their own access policies. Uniform, granular access makes it possible to delegate the right to change a policy, the right to change
the membership of a group mentioned on a policy, and the right to change the policy that governs a particular object. This flexibility supports a range of collaborative models in the same, shared environment and avoids the IT administrative bottleneck that burdens most collaboration software.
In addition, Vignette Collaboration offers a new level of security for e-mail transactions. Vignette Collaboration C-Mail Services includes both authentication and authorization features that enable enterprise security and prevent fraudulent activity. For example, only the person that has “checked out” a document can check it back in, and e-mail contributions can only be made by authenticated IDs. C-Mail Services security supports all existing e-mail clients and does not require any additional software downloads.
Integration with Other Vignette Products
As a critical member of the complete Vignette family of products, Vignette Collaboration shares many traits with other Vignette products. Vignette products such as Vignette Portal, Vignette Content Management, and Vignette Records & Documents share a common look and feel, as well as a similar J2EE architecture as Vignette Collaboration. While all of these offerings stand well on their own, together they can support the entire information value-chain from collaborative creation to document and records management, imaging and workflow, and personalized targeted delivery within and outside the firewall.
Vignette Collaboration and Vignette Portal can be used in combination to create rich online applications that are based on collaborative tools and processes. By using these two products together, you can include collaborative capabilities (via collaboration portlets) in-line with other application portlets. Consider the requirements of an employee Intranet as an example. Adding collaborative capabilities to an employee Intranet delivered through Vignette Portal helps you to share documents with remote team members, enhance your cross-functional communication, and repurpose
information—all for significant bottom-line savings. This environment also helps you capture information typically lost through informal communications.
Vignette Collaboration enhances Vignette Content Management by bringing a full suite of collaborative capabilities to the Web content management application. These capabilities make it possible for diverse, distributed teams to collaboratively author content to be delivered to the Web. Consider a co-marketing effort by two separate companies that have entered into a partnership. While both companies have a Web content management system, neither company makes their Web content management application available to people outside of their respective company. This fact makes it difficult to jointly develop Web content as it forces the teams to develop the content outside of their Web content management applications and then manually enter the content into those systems upon completion of the content creation. Vignette Collaboration simplifies business situations like these by providing workspaces in which the content can be jointly developed by people from both companies. These workspaces can then automatically move the finished content into the Web content management application for publishing to the Web.
Vignette Records & Documents extends DOD 5015.2-certified records management controls to collaborative workspaces within Vignette Collaboration. As compliance and governance regulations continue to evolve, it becomes more difficult for you to ensure compliance throughout your entire organization. Using Vignette Records & Documents together with Vignette Collaboration helps you meet compliance mandates without sacrificing the productivity benefits of collaborative workspaces. With the combined solution, you can automatically create records (with retention policies, digital signatures, etc.) as part of the collaborative approval processes that occur within workspaces. This solution is especially helpful for distributed teams creating official documents such as contracts, policies, and government filings.
Vignette currently provides two collaborative solutions designed for specific critical business challenges: Vignette Strategic Account Management and Vignette Project Delivery. These solutions are built on the open, extensible Vignette Collaboration product and provide specific features core to the business functions, workflow and processes within these disciplines.
Vignette’s collaborative solutions provide a user-friendly, cohesive and highly flexible collaboration environment. This environment creates what Vignette calls “group memory” that preserves individual and collaborative work and makes it available to be shared and retrieved for later reuse. Using e-mail, desktop applications and Web-based workspaces, people can manage business relationships, share information and accomplish their tasks.
Vignette Strategic Account Management
Chances are you sell your products and services through large teams that can number from five to 50 or more when selling into large accounts. These sales teams must manage several engagements at once across product teams and geographies, and typically have to manage the exchange of very technical and complex information and files with team members, prospects and partners. These sales cycles can also take from 6 months to several years depending on the products or services. As a result, sales engagements become dynamic activities as the selling methodology rarely tracks with the buying processes employed by prospects and customers. It’s critical for every account team member to track their sales process closely, but this can be extremely time-consuming if the team members do not have an online environment that supports sales repeatability and collaborative selling, even if a strict selling methodology is in place.
Another challenge involves providing sales management with consistent and current account and opportunity reports. All too often, sales management does not have the visibility into sales engagements it needs, especially
into critical issues and deliverables. Many times sales management ends up hearing about these critical issues only after it is too late. The resulting “fire drills” typically require account teams to repeatedly shift their focus from selling activities to assembling last-minute progress reports and creating one-off internal account status materials. All of this adds up to high cost and low efficiency. Having your highly paid account teams doing low-value coordination work increases sales costs and reduces profitability. Specific capabilities that help alleviate these issues include:
• Out-of-the-box capabilities necessary to create account and opportunity workspaces with folders for account information, current projects, official documents, opportunities, support teams, access policies and account discussion forums.
• Folders for managing incoming and outgoing proposals and contracts; each folder allows the documents contained in the folder to be versioned, linked to, submitted to a workflow process, or subscribed to so that account team members are notified when the document changes.
• Access policies that can be set at the folder or document level in order to help ensure proper security and protection of confidential account information.
• Ability to quickly deploy customer and partner Extranets that deliver only components of the account workspace you choose to expose, while still protecting sensitive internal information related to the opportunity.
• Workspaces that enable account team members to search and contribute content, check-in and checkout content, collaborate on issues, comment on documents, and participate in approval workflows—all directly through e-mail.
• Workspaces that orchestrate account team efforts with account and opportunity document and content management, threaded account and opportunity discussions, account-related task management and calendaring.
• Increased account management effectiveness through their ability to deliver a combination of collaborative
capabilities, and where necessary, information from key existing enterprise applications (CRM systems, etc.) that may already be in use.
• Personalized capabilities to maximize team member’s productivity; easily create custom searches and agents to help ensure team members always know the status of relevant account information such as draft account proposals, product suggestions and support issues.
• “Group memory,” that develops as account teams create and share work products; with the Group Memory accessible to current and future account teams, organizations can benefit from the ability to reuse virtually any work product such as contracts, proposals, account strategy plans and policies.
Vignette Project Delivery
Organizations define objectives in terms of project-based deliverables. These objectives are often achieved through the incremental contributions of multiple participants in a single process. The key to efficiently managing the process behind these projects is a well integrated, shared online project workspace. Today, most projects are managed individually, and it becomes difficult to share or utilize project work products over time. Once this project information is in disparate locations across an organization—internal or external to the organization—the information is at risk of being lost, falling out of date, walking out the door when employees leave or are reassigned, or when partnerships end.
As the number of projects running concurrently increases, the importance of coordination across your organization becomes paramount. Project teams and managers quickly can become overwhelmed, at times their project work becoming negatively affected by their workload. In order to ease the pressure and help prevent overload, all members of the project team (from both inside and outside the organization) must share information and communicate openly.
Current systems and productivity tools aid project team members in completing their specific tasks, but generally lack the capabilities to enable project team
members to effectively share their work products and communicate their progress to management and the rest of the project team.
The current economic environment and internal budget pressures can present you with mounting pressures from both inside and outside your organization to complete more projects with fewer resources. Managers are faced with making strategic project decisions and face increasing pressure to prioritize projects and resources. Project success or failure depends on your organization’s ability to effectively manage multiple projects across functional, geographic and organizational boundaries. To be successful, project team members, project managers, program managers and executives require visibility into project issues and opportunities as they arise. Vignette solutions can provide the following:
• Improved project team productivity and efficiency with collaborative Extranets, robust security and access controls, and powerful search and index functionality for effective project management
• Online project workspaces where people share and discuss their work that can be easily accessed through productivity applications and e-mail clients (even offline) and integrated into other business applications
• Specific template-based project workspaces that deliver dashboard views into team status, as well as subscriptions and notifications so teams can determine when items are being updated or changed
• Out-of-the-box templates for standard methodologies such as Six Sigma and CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration).
• Collaborative functions including the ability to search and contribute content, check-in and checkout project-related content, communicate on project issues, comment on documents and participate in approval workflows directly through e-mail
• The ability to orchestrate project efforts across workspaces, including document and content management, discussion threading, task management and calendaring; optionally provide connectivity to
Microsoft Project Server in order to bring all required project information together in the workspace
• The ability to leverage corporate knowledge by combining full-text search and relational query capabilities, storing and presenting information in business context, and utilizing knowledge agents to help complete projects faster and easier
A Collaborative Framework
Vignette Collaboration provides a framework that greatly simplifies the development of collaborative solutions, enabling business analysts and Web designers to quickly build and deploy the desired applications. The Collaborative Framework does this by providing a rich development environment that extends and integrates Vignette Collaboration into existing systems and evolving business processes.
Integration with CRM Applications
The Collaborative Framework provides the core infrastructure and flexible mechanisms that enable Vignette Collaboration to be easily and seamlessly integrated with many enterprise applications, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications.
CRM applications are effective for pipeline tracking and forecasting, but they do not enable your sales force and account teams to find the information and experts that they need to solve problems. They do not provide secure Extranet workspaces to deepen your customer relationships. Because of this, Vignette Collaboration is a compelling compliment to CRM applications.
There are three components to the Collaborative Framework that are relevant to CRM:
• Integrated user interface – The Vignette Collaboration template engine dynamically generates pieces of a collaborative workspace page separately such as the footer, command bar, navigation bar, content section and context section. This enables a Vignette Collaboration-CRM integration to seamlessly display
only selected content and commands without confusing you with unwanted information and features.
• Shared data – Data can be shared between CRM systems and Vignette Collaboration via the HTTP API or the Java API (KMAPI). Automatically importing and updating data from the CRM system as metadata on Vignette Collaboration objects provides further context to the collaborative workspaces and enables more powerful searches. For example, an opportunity workspace may contain metadata specifying status, estimated close date and industry. This enables the team working in Vignette Collaboration to more fully understand the opportunity and to more accurately search for relevant previous work. Additionally, final document versions or other unstructured data from Vignette Collaboration can be exported to the CRM system using these APIs and/or by modifying Vignette Collaboration templates.
• Shared workflow – Business processes frequently require both structured and unstructured data for successful completion. Many implementation options for shared workflow exist in the Collaborative Framework. In addition to the HTTP and Java APIs to make direct calls to/for Vignette Collaboration objects, more complex functionality can be achieved through server-side scripting. This allows seamless interaction with the server as scripts can make calls to the Vignette Collaboration class files through KMAPI, and the Vignette Collaboration Event Handler, which can automate operations through notifications and custom scripts.
In today’s business environment, you use multiple, disconnected systems to do your job—e-mail, office documents, Intranets, enterprise applications, analytical tools, the Internet, and more. Mission-critical information, data, and expertise needed to make better and more informed decisions is dispersed across multiple silos of information and data stores, not just enterprise
applications. Vignette provides the applications to solve this problem.
Unlike traditional applications that require extensive work to add even minor customizations, the Collaborative Framework provides flexible mechanisms wherein customizations can be readily added to Vignette Collaboration. Features of Vignette Collaboration can be readily added to a different system, allowing Vignette Collaboration to be seamlessly integrated with any enterprise portal solution. What’s more, Vignette Collaboration provides a set of integration portlets that are specifically designed to work with Vignette Portal—Vignette’s enterprise portal solution. There are three components to Vignette Collaboration that are relevant to enterprise portals:
• Single sign-on – Through its modular authentication framework, Vignette Collaboration can support any portal connection model while accepting user credentials from external security authorities. This enables a single sign-on environment for Vignette Collaboration integrations. This can result in increased user satisfaction and adoption, as well as lower administration costs. Vignette Collaboration utilizes Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) to accept other systems’ user authentication, such as Microsoft Active Directory and LDAP Servers.
• Modular user interface – The Vignette Collaboration Template Engine dynamically generates pieces of the Vignette Collaboration pages separately. This enables portals to display only selected content and commands without polluting the screen with irrelevant user interface elements. In fact, this is precisely what the portlets for Vignette Portal provide—a series of highly flexible views that expose just the functionality your portal users require.
• Customizable look and feel – Every part of a Vignette Collaboration display is exceptionally flexible through simple HTML modifications. For color and font choices, Vignette Collaboration uses cascading style sheets (CSS) for quick, simple adjustments. Additionally,
Vignette Collaboration can support multiple style definitions for a single server implementation, enabling separate views to match portal look and feel and/or different styles relevant to specific users. These features create a common user experience and a familiar place to work.
Rich Development Environment
Modular user interface elements – With a modular and reusable template-based user interface, isolated from a given application’s business logic, the Vignette Collaboration user interface is easily shaped to any situation. The figure below is an example of how a customer view might vary from an internal user view. In this example, the Extranet user sees tabs rather than folders, the layout and branding are different, and the command bars are limited.
Modifications are made to the default user interface via HTML files called templates. A Web developer can make changes to the file visuals without changing the underlying data models or business rules, allowing a running system to be customized in place.
Vignette Collaboration Solutions
Figure 13. Template Structure
Within the template files exists a layer of business logic coded in a tag language that allows a programmer of modest skills to change how certain items are displayed.
Again, it is impossible to corrupt the underlying database through the tag language. The use of these tags can be augmented with server-side scripts to build complex business logic for implementing custom features and building advanced workflows.
The Vignette Collaboration user interface is implemented via a series of user interface libraries. These modular packages of user interface functionality can be readily modified to suit specific needs, making seamless the integration of the Vignette Collaboration user interface with another Web-based application. As noted, the Collaborative Framework also supports a view mechanism that provides for specific users to have their own user interface.
Vignette Collaboration user interface templates can run on existing servers without changing the underlying database schema or even restarting the server. The business analyst can decide that a particular custom object needs additional information, make the change to the custom type definition, and be assured that every new object of that type will have the latest information.
Rich HTTP API – Vignette Collaboration has a 100 percent Web-native interface with no applets, which runs in standard browsers. Because the HTTP interface is stateless, other applications can make calls directly into Vignette Collaboration via the HTTP API. Some of the types of transactions exposed as HTTP requests include access content, return search results, create new objects, change attributes, reorganize content, perform administrative functions, and launch server-side scripts.
Vignette Collaboration enforces transactional semantics on these operations; all must meet strict target access control rules.
Java API & server-side scripts – In addition to a complete HTTP API, Vignette Collaboration also provides a complete Java API called KMAPI, which provides a local (same server) process to call Vignette Collaboration directly. Remote servers can access Vignette Collaboration via HTTP tunneling.
In addition to providing access to other programs, Vignette Collaboration supports JSP as a scripting language, which allows seamless interaction with the server as scripts can make calls to the Vignette Collaboration class files through KMAPI. With server-side scripting, operations that might have required several calls through the HTTP API can be bundled together and accomplished in a single step, and such server-side scripts can be initiated with simple HTTP calls.
Event management – The rich event management capability of Vignette Collaboration can be used to create steps in workflows or manage complete workflow scenarios. For example, the creation of a new object can trigger user or process notification and the execution of business logic related to system events. In this way, many operations can be automated, particularly those that a user might forget.
Extensible data model and custom object runtime – The Vignette Collaboration data model uses a flexible object-oriented approach. There are base objects and base containers.
• Document – An object representing content that can be stored in digital form
• WebDocument – An object like a document, except its contents are stored remotely and served over HTTP
• Message – Submitted by e-mail or created directly in a discussion using the Vignette Collaboration HTML interface
• Comment – Similar to a message, has a text body, possible attachments and reply threads; is not a stand-alone object, always exists relative to another object
• Query (also called a saved search) – Preserves the parameters of a search query so that the search can be re-run and used for subscription
• User – A person with an account
• Policy (short for access policy) – Determines who can do what to an object; all objects are governed by a policy, including policy objects themselves
• Folder – The fundamental container type used to represent categories, topics, projects, lists, inboxes, or sets of documents
• Cabinet – Only appears at the top level of a group memory
• Home Object – Rests at the top of the hierarchy
• Discussion – Specializes in managing e-mails by organizing messages into topic threads; also forwards messages to recipients
• Group – Sets of users, used to specify access policies; can also receive e-mail
• Users and Groups – Set of all users and groups
• Access Policies – Lists all access policies defined in the group memory; automatically maintained by Vignette Collaboration
Note that any data object can have a user-driven set of metadata applied. For example, a document can also have a type called “tech note”. This new type variable can then be used to improve searches. Because Vignette Collaboration manages all database transactions at the external API, no schema changes are necessary to support a change to the object model.
In order to more closely map collaborative spaces to a specific business process, new object types can be added which appear as base objects. To facilitate creation and management of these custom objects, Vignette Collaboration provides a Custom Type Factory. The Custom Type Factory allows you to create a new Custom Type Definition through an easy-to-use wizard.
When you create a new instance of that object, the Custom Object Runtime uses the Custom Type Definition to define the specific parameters required. The user interface necessary for user interaction with these custom objects is generated automatically by the Custom Object Runtime and does not require HTML programming.
By using the Custom Type Factory to create new objects and define object relationships, deep software
development becomes far simpler, with the added benefit that Custom Type Definitions can be changed as needed without affecting the existing custom objects or the underlying data management.
Custom collaborative spaces – The Collaborative Framework user interface wizard automates the creation of pre-defined collaborative workspaces. Templates of collaborative spaces can be more than a simple hierarchy of objects; they can include specific taxonomy, content, discussions, and most importantly, specific local access policies and local groups. Using workspace templates ensures rapid, consistent implementation of secure workspaces.
User management and single sign-on – Vignette Collaboration synchronizes user records with an enterprise directory server via an LDAP client. The Vignette Collaboration LDAP client requests user information useful to the collaborative environment and also supports fixed LDAP groups, dynamic groups and live queries to the LDAP server, including Microsoft Active Directory.
Vignette Collaboration supports the Java Authentication and Authorization Services (JAAS) standard for adding plug-able authentication modules, which can authorize against a wide variety of security systems. A module can be created and used to validate user credentials (usually username and password) against whatever relevant system within an organization. Often portals will already validate the user’s credentials and set a token for other applications. A module can also be created to use various tokens.
These two capabilities allow mixed user interfaces, such as a portal, to provide sign-on to Vignette Collaboration and data sharing between enterprise applications and Vignette Collaboration.
Vignette Collaboration is built upon a true, enterprise class architecture that helps ensure 24/7 high availability through embedded clustering. This critical
clustering ability is provided out-of-the-box with Vignette Collaboration, and works for Web, FTP, LDAP and e-mail access to Vignette Collaboration. The Vignette Collaboration Administration Console enables centralized cluster management for all collaboration services. Since Vignette Collaboration includes out-of-the-box clustering support, you do not need to invest in additional application server licenses in order to support a 24/7 architecture.
With any enterprise solution, compatibility with existing and emerging standards is critical. Built on J2EE technology, Vignette Collaboration runs on popular enterprise operating systems and supports the leading relational databases. Vignette Collaboration fits your existing infrastructure to leverage previous investments.
The figure below depicts how Vignette Collaboration integrates within your existing information technology infrastructure.
Enterprise Mail Server
OfficeIE Web Folders Unix, Mac
Oracle SQL Server
WebDAV FTPLotus Notes,
MS Exchange, Wireless E-Mail
Vignette Collaboration Solutions
Figure 14. Vignette Collaboration Integrates via Standard Protocols
• Integration with e-mail – As emphasized earlier in this paper, Vignette Collaboration is highly integrated with e-mail. E-mail contributions to the group memory are accomplished through the use of SMTP. Vignette Collaboration also includes a built-in LDAP server that allows users to search and browse Vignette Collaboration e-mail addresses directly from their existing e-mail application.
• Integration with Web browsers – Vignette Collaboration includes a Web-based user interface that runs in Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. The server interacts with Web agents over HTTP using the standard Java Servlet architecture. Vignette Collaboration comes with its own HTTP server and supports the use of other Web servers.
• Integration with desktop applications – Vignette Collaboration includes a WebDAV server that allows folders within collaborative workspaces to have the appearance and functionality of file system folders. Vignette Collaboration also includes an FTP server that allows information transfer between applications such as Microsoft Office.
• Integration with other sources of electronic information – Vignette Collaboration includes an HTTP client that collects and monitors the content of external Web pages, including those that provide access to reports from Web-compliant applications. Vignette Collaboration makes all of its information available in XML format, which is accessible over the HTTP API. The WebDAV server also supports programmatic data exchange, including file contents and custom metadata, using XML over HTTP.
Amidst significant changes in business brought on by the rapid advance of technology and by increasing globalization, one thing is constant: you and your organization must be responsive to your customers and to changes in the market. To meet these challenges, you must make the best use of your resources.
Knowledge about customers, services, and products (in both structured and the more pervasive unstructured forms) ranks first among your resources. But managing knowledge alone will not bring you success without leveraging the power of your extended organization. As traditional organizational boundaries give way to a Web of partners, consultants, vendors, and customers, coordination with these parties takes on new significance.
Enterprise collaboration comprises the sharing of knowledge across the geographic and relationship expanse of business today. The Vignette approach is compelling: employing a Web-based, collaborative workspace that serves as a foundation for all knowledge sharing, tying together unstructured and process-specific knowledge in an environment where you can truly collaborate across the breadth of your extended organization. In addition, Vignette Collaboration provides a scalable infrastructure tightly integrated with existing enterprise applications.
Leveraging e-mail, desktop applications and Web-based workspaces, Vignette Collaboration provides a single environment where you and your colleagues can truly collaborate, manage relationships, share information and drive inter-organizational collaboration. Furthermore, Vignette Collaboration addresses critical phases of the business collaboration lifecycle: customer, services and product collaboration.
Built on an open, extensible platform, Vignette Collaboration provides specific features that are core to business functions, workflows and processes, including: flexible collaborative workspaces, document management, search tools, subscription agents, dashboards, tasks, calendars, polls, instant messaging, and connectivity to live meeting tools.
Vignette Collaboration provides these features in a rich environment with a comprehensive security model, all of which fits exceedingly well into the enterprise ecology. And because Vignette Collaboration has full e-mail integration (greatly simplifying the user experience), it has the power, flexibility, and usability demanded by the complex set of challenges posed to your business today.
Vignette Collaboration is part of an integrated ECM family of products that can help organizations grow their business, increase productivity, reduce costs, manage their risk and improve their interactions with key constituents. Vignette’s ECM family of products allows organizations to manage the complete lifecycle of information to share information, optimize business
processes, integrate with applications, personalize the delivery for global applications through multiple channels or devices, and control documents and records. Using Vignette, organizations can leverage their records, documents, Web pages, images, e-mails, multimedia, Web transactions, faxes, database records and other unstructured content to create new opportunities, expand profits and realize greater savings and efficiencies.
For more information about Vignette’s Enterprise Content Management solutions, and their demonstrated value to over 1,700 organizations worldwide, visit www.vignette.com or call +1 888.608.9900.
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WP0606 Collaboration Publication Date: June 2006. Vignette does not warrant, guarantee, or make representations concerning the contents of this document. All information is provided “AS-IS,” without express or im-plied warranties of any kind including, without limitation, the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, quality and title. Any information provided by Vignette customers or partners was obtained after the implementation of Vignette software and may have changed as of the Publication Date. You may not achieve the same results or benefits from using Vignette as described in this document. Nothing in this document is considered to be part of any product documentation or specification for any purpose. Features and functionalities of Vignette software may be licensed in one or more separately priced software programs or modules. Vignette reserves the right to change the contents of this document and the features or functionalities of its products and services at any time without obligation to notify anyone of such changes.Copyright 2006 Vignette Corporation. All rights reserved. Vignette, the V Logo, e:fficiency and e:fficiency experts are trademarks or registered trademarks of Vignette Corporation in the United States and other countries. All other company, product and service names, and brands are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.