OnBase by Hyland: A unified, integrated enterprise information platform
Blog: MWD Advisors
OnBase by Hyland is a single enterprise information platform for managing content, processes and cases, available on-premise or in the cloud. Recent releases have seen enhancements and feature parity extended across desktop and web UIs, new mobile features including offline access, and more capabilities to extend ‘low-code’ / ‘no-code’ solution designs for the citizen developer.
Supporting the ‘citizen developer / integrator’
Hyland describes OnBase as a “unified integrated platform”, meaning that customers only have one application to upgrade, one system architecture to secure, one point of integration, etc. The company is also enhancing the configurability of many parts of its platform to empower business users to construct low-code / no-code solutions (particularly around case management and capture workflows, and integrations with wider enterprise applications) without a heavy reliance on their IT departments.
Working towards feature parity
Although currently OnBase’s full functionality is still only available through its desktop ‘Unity’ client, a raft of UI and usability enhancements brought in with OnBase 17 clearly demonstrates Hyland’s direction of travel. Responding the rise of the mobile worker (and increased interest in bringing more configuration capabilities to business users), the company is seeking to achieve feature parity across its (Windows) desktop, web, and eventually mobile app UIs. There’s no desktop client for Mac, however (nor plans to deliver one). Mac users must use the browser interface, and so customers still need to have PCs on hand to ensure they have full access to all admin and configuration features.
Perceptive business unit acquisition strengthens data capture automation and medical image support (as separate tools, alongside OnBase)
2017 saw Hyland acquire the Perceptive business unit from Lexmark International, Inc. The move has brought specialist medical image storage and viewing tools, and intelligent capture capabilities, into the overall Hyland stable – not only bolstering the company’s healthcare use case credentials, but also the cross-industry appeal of more automated document entry into the ECM system. However, the Perceptive products have not yet been incorporated into the OnBase unified platform and instead remain as separate offerings under the Hyland banner.
When MWD Advisors covered OnBase by Hyland in January 2016 (at release version 15) we remarked that the company’s single, unified architecture approach (to delivering platform capabilities, business objects and artefact ontologies, and business rules/policies) leads to easier on-premise deployments, with much less need to configure a solution at the code level or resort to IT intervention. Since then the product has seen two further annual release cycles, the most recent being OnBase 17 in June 2017. Between them, OnBase 16 and 17 have included more than 20,000 changes, including 7,000 customer-driven enhancements.
Hyland describes OnBase as being as a single platform supporting ‘content-enabled applications’ that compete against individual ECM, BPM, case management, and capture tools (as well as separate custom built applications in the space).
2017 saw Hyland acquire the Perceptive business unit from Lexmark International, Inc. including Perceptive Intelligent Capture, Acuo VNA, PACSgear, Enterprise Medical Image Viewing and more. Each offers significant capability enhancements to OnBase customers in areas such as records management and retention, workflow, forms, and specific healthcare-related use case solutions, but currently they remain standalone applications, sold and supported by Hyland alongside OnBase, rather than their features integrated into the OnBase platform.
Partnerships vs acquisitions and re-engineering into the OnBase Platform
As well as acquiring vendors for their customer bases and market share, Hyland’s strategy is usually to leverage the acquired company’s expertise to develop new capabilities on the OnBase platform natively (rather than integrate the code as-is). It continues to maintain and support the acquired tool whilst this process is ongoing, but ultimately puts customers on a migration path to OnBase. The continued maintenance period post-acquisition will vary in duration, depending on the complexity of the tool and the task of re-versioning it as native OnBase platform capabilities. Hyland also takes the opportunity to ‘refocus’ the appeal of a tool – for instance, the original AnyDoc tool required significant scripting skills to operate whereas the OnBase ‘version’ is designed to be a lot more ‘business analyst-friendly’. In cases where the functionality isn’t re-developed on the OnBase platform (such as is the case with LawLogix, because of its strong brand identity with existing customers), the tool remains a complementary standalone product, integrated with OnBase (and offered alongside in a sale).
Hyland does still have functional elements covered through partner offerings though. It now uses IdP as its identity provider service (using customers’ own identities) for two-factor authentication, single sign-on, and support for SAML, CAS and SmartCard Authentication (CAC). Although it tends to acquire and re-engineer core content management components to reduce reliance on third parties and client plugins, at present it’s chosen to partner for Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) capabilities (in line with current industry best practices for customers to spread the responsibility for security protection across multiple vendors rather than relying on a single platform for end-to-end coverage).
Desktop vs web vs mobile
Most of the changes seen this year in OnBase 17 have been focused on UI usability and consistency and designed to achieve parity across platforms; however, there are still key differences in the experience on offer to different users.
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