Thursday, January 15, 2015

Xerox Signs on As Kofax Reseller

Today Kofax announced that it has signed a global partnership with Xerox. Under the terms of the agreement, "Xerox will sell, market, deploy and support Kofax TotalAgility," with support from Kofax sales and services staff. Kofax TA represents its integrated line of products including capture, BPM, analytics, e-signature and data integration technologies.

Couple interesting points about this:
  • The Xerox executive quoted in the press release talks about Kofax TA being part of Xerox' next-generation MPS offering. The concept of MFP/printer vendors moving more deeply into ECM was factored into our recent 2015 DIR prediction that there will be a major ECM/Capture acquisition by any MFP vendor in 2015.
  • Somewhat along those lines, Hyland Software also recently announced a new global partnership with Xerox. Can we connect some dots here?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

TIS Meets 4th Quarter Expectations

A day after Kofax reported a rebound for its fiscal '15 Q2, capture competitor Top Image Systems (TIS) has reported that it met its guidance for the fourth quarter - at least in terms of local currencies. Like Kofax, TIS does quite a bit of business outside the U.S. but reports its financials in U.S. Dollars, as its stock is traded on the Nasdaq. According to the TIS press release, "The Company anticipates the significant devaluation of the Euro, as well as of the British Pound and leading Asia Pacific and Latin American currencies, to impact its reporting in U.S. dollars."

For those of you keeping score, when TIS announced its Q3 results, which were impacted by its recent acquisition of eGistics, it projected its Q4 "revenues will range between $10.5 million and $11.5 million and expenses will range between $9.3 million to $9.7 million."

TIS also announced today that it expects to be profitable in all four quarters of 2015.

TIS plans to announce full, audited Q4 and year-end results in early March.

Kofax Q2 Numbers Look Strong

Kofax appears to have had a fairly strong second fiscal quarter for 2015 (ended Dec. 31), based on the selected preliminary results it reported yesterday. Kofax pre-reported non-GAAP software license revenue of $34M-$35M, total revenue of $80-82 and an adjusted EBITDA of $13.7 to $14.7M.  This represents about a 6% growth in software license revenue over the numbers Kofax reported for its fiscal Q2 2014, and about a 5% growth in total revenue. EBITDA, which had been down severely in Kofax's Q1, increased YOY by 7-8%, to $13.7M-$14.7M, which represented about a 3x sequential quarter increase.

Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish said the numbers could have been better if not for worldwide currency exchange decline vs. the U.S. Dollar. In the press release he said, "Given the large amount of our software license revenue and total revenues arising in Euros, British Pounds, Swiss Francs and other currencies that have weakened against the U.S. dollar, this effect was substantial. On a constant currency basis - using exchange rate levels in the prior year period - software license revenue would have been approximately $1.1 million and total revenues $2.7 million higher."

In the press release, Bish noted that sales of "new of acquired products" showed strong growth and that core capture software sales also improved - as we noted previously, Kofax reported a number of significant capture software deals in November and December. Bish noted that the number of six-figure software deals, an area of focus for the company, also continued to increase.

Full results are due out Jan. 29.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

EPM Sells Service Business to Kodak Alaris

Just about a year after acquiring Imaging 411 in order to launch its own service business Eastman Park Micrographics (EPM) is selling its service business to Kodak Alaris, its biggest competitor. From what I heard, EPM was not entirely happy with the way its court case against Kodak Alaris was going. EPM had sought to bar Kodak Alaris Document Imaging from marketing its service to EPM ImageLink micrographics customers - but after originally receiving a court order that supported this position, that order was reversed.

Previous to EPM's acquisition of Long Island-based imaging service specialist Imaging 411 in December 2013, Kodak Alaris had been the official service provider for ImageLink equipment through a contract with EPM. After EPM acquired Imaging 411, it took over the ImageLink service contracts and attempted to bar Kodak Alaris from competing for them. From what we understand, this strategy was not entirely working out, which prompted EPM to sell its service business to Kodak Alaris.

EPM had previously signed on Kodak Alaris to provide support for its hardware customers in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. EPM Service and Kodak Alaris were competing in North America.

With the acquisition, Kodak Alaris also picks up a competitor for scanner service. Imaging 411, and then EPM, employed several ex-Kodak DI technicians and had aggressively pursued document scanner service contracts.

EPM will now focus on hardware manufacturing, with Crowley doing the sales and marketing, as well as media distribution.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Top News Stories in 2014

 This article originally appeared in our Dec. 19, 2014 premium issue.

What Went Down in 2014

A review of our five biggest news stories/trends in the past year. We’ve listed them in reverse order, like a countdown.

5. Convergence of call center and capture markets: It’s the natural evolution of multi-channel capture to eventually include voice. Conversely, as call centers evolve into contact centers, they are starting to embrace document-centric communication. Then there is everything in between: e-mails, Web sites, text messages, social media, etc., that is somewhat unconquered, and this is where the convergence is starting to occur.

At this year’s Harvey Spencer Associates Capture Conference, customer experience management (CEM) consultant Michael McBrien showed a slide depicting an ideal contact center where social, Web, in-person, phone, and mobile communications were all integrated. When asked if anyone is actually doing this, his answer was no.

That said, from the capture market perspective, we are starting to see these elements come together through initiatives like Kofax’s First Mile SPA (smart process application) strategy [see DIR 3/28/14], Kodak Alaris’ partnership with German IDR/AI specialist ITyX, and even document outsourcing specialist BancTec’s recent merger with Dataforce Group [see DIR 8/22/14]. From the contact center side, it was good to see a respected industry veteran like McBrien show up at the HSA Conference.

4. Kofax misses consecutive quarters: The year started so auspiciously for the Irvine, CA-based capture and SPA vendor. At the annual Transform conference held in March, Kofax was riding four straight quarters of software license and overall growth. In addition, an IPO on the Nasdaq (which was completed in Dec. 2013) was paying off, with Kofax’s market cap soaring to around the $750M mark

Then came Kofax’s fiscal Q4 2014 and Q1 2015. For the quarter ended June 30, Kofax reported a non-IFRS YOY decline in software license revenue of 7.5% and a YOY decline in EBITDA of 38.9%. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Kofax reported a YOY non-GAAP decline in software license revenue of 3.5% and an adjusted EBITDA decline of 47.8%. For Q1, Kofax’s margin was just 6.3%—when in March CEO Reynolds Bish had set a goal of reaching 20% margins within three years.

In both quarters, Bish blamed the shortfalls on large seven- and high-six-figure “core capture” deals that had slipped into future quarters. After the more recent miss, Bish went so far as to say that Kofax will be putting more focus on its “mobile and new or acquired products,” hoping they will pull through traditional capture sales—and get capture back to “single-digit growth.” “We are now accelerating the reallocation of resources and expenditures into this fast growing part of our business,” said Bish [see DIR 10/10/14].

But then a funny thing started happening. In the past month and a half, since Kofax announced its fiscal Q1 results on Oct. 30, the ISV has issued no less than five press releases touting software deals in the high-six to seven-figure range, mostly focused on automating document capture processes. When you couple this with Kofax’s continuing to increase its number of $100,000 (mostly capture) deals (even during its Q1, the number of six figure deals increased by 33%), maybe the capture market isn’t in as bad of shape as Kofax had thought.

3. Increase in onboard imaging processing (IP) technology in document scanners: We’ll admit this isn’t a very sexy story in and of itself, but to us it is the sign of something bigger. In 2014, three leading scanner vendors announced enhanced on-board image processing features: Fujitsu introduced PaperStream IP, which has replaced Kofax VRS as its bundled IP technology [see DIR 1/31/14]; Visioneer embedded IP on a chip with its new On Board Acuity [see DIR 7/18/14]; and Kodak Alaris introduced a new embedded version of its PerfectPage technology [see DIR 6/13/14].

So, what’s the big deal? This trend may help scanners run at closer to rated speeds today, but down the road is when the big benefits could come. More onboard IP creates the potential for removing the PC (where IP has historically been run) from the scanning equation. Not surprisingly, Fujitsu, Visioneer, and Kodak Alaris are all members of the TWAIN Working Group, which is actively working on a new TWAIN Direct standard, designed to connect scanners to applications without going through traditional drivers. EMC Captiva (which develops ISIS drivers) has undertaken a similar initiative with its Cloud SDK.

One end game of these initiatives is that they will enable scanners to be run by a multitude of alternative computing devices such as network devices, phones, tablets, netbooks, and who knows what else. They should also simplify development of capture applications. This trend of more onboard IP is helping move document scanning into the 21st century and beyond.
2. Rise of Cloud computing in ECM: I don’t think we’ve hit the tipping point yet, but in 2014 there were multiple small movements this way that are starting to add up: You had reseller IDT telling us that 40% of its new business is coming from cloud sales [see DIR 11/7/14]. You had Captricity, a 100% cloud-based crowdsourcing capture ISV, securing a $10 million round of Series B funding [see DIR 8/1/14]. You had Ephesoft, which has a purely Web-based cloud friendly capture platform, getting a minority investment from Fujitsu [see DIR 8/1/14]. You had capture ISV TIS buying cloud document management provider eGistics [see DIR 7/18/14]. And you had Box announcing workflow technology at BoxWorks and Dropbox revamping its Dropbox for Business; in the meantime, you had SharePoint experience some growing pains as Microsoft tried to reposition it as part of its Office 365 cloud offering.

As I said, there wasn’t a tidal wave of ECM cloud adoption, but rather a large number of smaller waves in that direction that combined can be equally powerful, especially if they continue to gain momentum in the upcoming year.

1. Lexmark acquires ReadSoft: Far and away the biggest story of 2014 was Lexmark’s acquisition of ReadSoft. The drama played out publicly over a period of four months, from May to August, with the Lexington, KY-based MFP vendor finally paying the equivalent of US $255 million for the market leading capture ISV, which is based in Helsingborg, Sweden. Counter bidding by Hyland Software drove up the price from Lexmark’s initial offer of $182 million.

By all appearances, the acquisition began innocuously enough when Lexmark announced its initial bid on May 6. Although the price seemed relatively low by capture market standards based on its multiple of 1.5x ReadSoft’s 2013 revenue, it did represent a record premium of 117% over market cap for a company trading on the Stockholm Exchange. Lexmark’s offer was unanimously recommended by ReadSoft’s board and included a provision that the board would only consider a competing offer if it was at least 7% higher than the Lexmark offer.

About a week before the acceptance period for the offer was scheduled to conclude, in mid-June, Hyland, probably Lexmark’s Perceptive Software’s most direct competitor in the ECM market, made a bid of approximately $198M, which was 8.7% higher than the Lexmark bid. Lexmark quickly countered with a $200M bid, because, well, they did not have to adhere to the same 7% premium.

Reading the ReadSoft and Hyland statements surrounding the bids led DIR to believe that Lexmark has made some promises regarding future employment of ReadSoft personnel that Hyland was unwilling to match [see DIR 6/27/14]. We also got the impression that Hyland was feeling a bit jilted by ReadSoft’s preference of Lexmark as a suitor. Apparently Hyland had been in talks with ReadSoft prior to the original Lexmark bid that had reportedly ended abruptly.

This all led to Hyland’s buying up of approximately 11% of ReadSoft’s outstanding shares, which it felt voided a 90% share requirement provision in Lexmark’s bid, and then making another bid of approximately $210M. Lexmark countered with a bid of $224M, which included an option to waive the 90% provision [see DIR 7/18/14]. Hyland took one more shot, which Lexmark answered with its $255M bid that included purchasing outright all the shares of ReadSoft’s two co-founders. This gave Lexmark a voting majority and effectively closed the deal [see DIR 8/22/14].

The bidding war was great for the capture industry, as it effectively increased the acquisition multiple of one of the market leaders to 2.2x revenue, a much healthier figure than the one associated with the original bid. The reasons for the acquisition on Lexmark’s side are clear. These include helping it reach its goal of $500 million in revenue for Perceptive Software in 2016 and increasing its European ECM presence. At the same time it helps Lexmark avoid the higher tax rates associated with repatriated profits by investing them in a European acquisition.

Hyland would also have benefited greatly from ReadSoft’s European presence, including its well regarded SAP integration in accounts payable applications. But, in the end it could not compete with Lexmark’s deeper pockets and whatever employment agreements were reached between Lexmark and ReadSoft. Curiously, at the same time it was acquiring ReadSoft, which has recently operated at around a break-even level, Lexmark was touting a goal of reaching 25% operating margins for Perceptive, which, for Q3 (minus some partial quarter numbers from ReadSoft), reported just 3.8% margins [see DIR 11/7/14]. Lexmark clearly has its work cut out.

Somewhat ironically, a couple months after it bowed out of the ReadSoft bidding, Hyland signed a partnership with Xerox. Part of the goal of that relationship is to help the ECM ISV expand its international reach [see DIR 11/21/14]. This should help even the playing field with Perceptive somewhat, although we still wouldn’t be surprised to see Hyland acquire a European ISV to supplement its efforts.
Those are some of the high points of our news coverage in 2014, a year which also included another successful AIIM Conference [see DIR 4/11/14], a strong rebound in Kodak branded scanner sales (now being sold by Kodak Alaris) [see DIR 10/24/14], Harvey’s Spencer Associates celebrating its 10th annual Capture Conference [see DIR 9/12/14], and Nuance buying MFP capture rival Notable Solutions.

Industry Pioneer Passes

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that 2014 was also the year that we lost one of the industry’s true pioneers, Nien-Ling Wacker. Wacker founded Laserfiche in 1987, a company that has been one of the leaders in the document imaging and management space since I started working in the market in 1998. Despite the company’s consistent growth, Wacker did her best to maintain her personal touch in the business. Whenever I would see her at events, should always made time to hold a real conversation and never failed to ask how I and our publication were doing, even as I interviewed her about Laserfiche.

Wacker received many accolades throughout her career, including the AIIM Pioneer of the Year Award in 2002, National Luminary of the Year by the Mothers in Business Network in 2005, and City National Bank’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009. In 2006 she was inducted into the National Association of Women Business Owners Hall of Fame in Los Angeles. She is also remembered for her “Red Shoes” story, the moral of which is along the lines of “make hay while the sun shines,” which Wacker certainly did during her tenure with Laserfiche.

Nien-Ling’s husband Chris has taken over as Laserfiche CEO. Karl Chan has been promoted from CTO to president.

Monday, November 10, 2014

No Need to be Scared of Paper

As you may have heard, Thursday was World Paper Free Day. Officially, it is AIIM initiative that encourages people and businesses to not use paper for one day. I was Tweeted, I did not go paper free: 

I was writing and on a deadline for my newsletter--and to tell the truth, absent three or four monitors, I just find it easier to compile a story using multiple sources, when I at least have my notes on a paper. Then I can utilize my computer screen for additional research. And the proofreading....I did go paper free for a year, just to see how it worked, and it was certainly possible to publish the newsletter without printing anything. However, I think it is easier to do it when I can print certain items.

Yes, I think there are situations where paper is more efficient than electronic documents, which brings me to the major discrepancy I currently have with the ECM industry--Everyone is always trying to go paperless! All I hear is about how much more efficient and secure EDM systems are over paper. And this may be true on some levels, but certainly not all.

Let's start with security because I think that's more black-and-white. Yes, I think a properly controlled electronic document in an ECM system is more secure than a paper document. This seems obvious. I mean you can pretty much control who accesses it and changes it and track whoever sees it and provide an audit trail. It's harder to do this with paper. 

Of course, this doesn't quite explain why people in the healthcare industry consciously choose to use fax over e-mail. Apparently they still feel that analog is more secure than digital. I'll explore this more in an upcoming issue of DIR

As far as efficiency, I am a fan of paper for many collaborative exercises, as I think it's easier to share because in many cases it represents a least common denominator. I mean you don't have to worry about your paper being compatible with another system. And your annotations, notes, signatures, et al, work across systems as well. And if you need to contact someone in a remote location - a scanned image should work just fine.

Now, I agree that electronic processes are generally more efficient than paper ones - but I also firmly believe that there are times when paper can be more useful - and that we should take advantage of the fact that we have access to such great printing and scanning technology. In fact, I think we've reached a tipping point, where if managed correctly, it really doesn't matter if information comes in on paper or digitally, it can be dealt with just as efficiently either way.

In other words, don't be scared of paper, embrace it where it makes sense. Don't try and eliminate it, try to set up the most efficient processes you can that take full advantage of paper as a medium of communication. There is great document imaging technology out there. Don't be afraid to use it.

And of course, there are these guys.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Kofax Places its Bets on SPAs

As many of us know earlier this month, Kofax pre-announced that its fiscal 2015 'Q1 results would be below expectations. The final results came out yesterday, and, pretty much as expected Kofax's revenue came in at $69.3M (growth of just 2.3%), sales generated from software licenses fell by 3.5%, and earnings decreased almost 50% to $4.3M or just a 6.3% margin.

In a call discussing the pre-announcement, Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish blamed the shortfall on some larger capture deals that did not close as expected. This was the second quarter in a row for which he used to same excuse. Investors were none too happy, and Kofax's stock plummeted - losing almost 25% of its value overnight. The stock has since gained back some of its value, but as of right now, Kofax's market capitalization is around $550M, which is less than two times revenue and about 30% below Kofax's high-water valuation mark reached this summer.

On the follow-up call to the recent final earnings announcement, Bish stated that Kofax had closed one of the two seven-figure deals that had slipped at the end of Q1, as well as several six-figure deals. He also reiterated that mid-market capture sales through the channel remained strong-but that increased scrutiny at the higher end of the capture market, especially in Europe, through both direct and indirect sales channels, was making sales tougher.

While Bish did not come right and say that the capture market, which still accounts for the majority of Kofax sales, was weak, he did restate that new sales reps are primarily being hired to focus on sales of newer/acquired product lines (including mobile), which in Q1 accounted for 35% of Kofax's software license revenue. "Most of the new quota bearing sales reps we've added over the 18 months have been in the mobile and newer acquired products part of our business," Bish said (from the Seeking Alpha transcript of the analyst call).

In the Q&A portion of the call, Bish added some color to comments he had made previously about reallocating resources and expenditures to focus more on the faster growing parts of Kofax's business specifically "mobile and new or acquired products." "There are a number of additional steps that we've taken here more recently to do so and most of them are aligned along the demand generation efforts," he said.

Bish added that because of Kofax's longevity and reputation the capture market, cutting back on demand-generation efforts in that market "hasn't historically tended the impact that business or ability to generate business there."

Bish then added that Kofax's current salespeople, many of whom also have a strong legacy in capture, have been given stogner incentives to sell the newer products. "There are a lot of reps out there, that have been with the company for many years, who certainly find things like Kofax Capture and Kofax Transformation modules to be their comfort zone, and so we've implemented a number of incentives as well as management processes in order to move them faster from the old legacy products to Kofax TotalAgility."

TotalAgility is the platform that Kofax introduced last year, which combines multiple of its acquired technologies in areas like BPM, business intelligence/analytics, application integration, and presumably e-signatures, and combines them with capture and IDR in a single Web-based and mobile platform. Said Bish, "[TA] can program capture functions, but more importantly can also automate the downstream synergistic business processes, provide a much higher value, a much more comprehensive solution and can also ultimately lead into providing true Smart Process Applications."

Attacking this potentially lucrative SPA space, which is squarely addressed with Kofax's First Mile marketing program, seems to where this market-leading capture ISV wants to train its focus, although it's likely that its market presence, technology set, experience, and momentum, will enable Kofax to maintain its leadership position in the enterprise capture space as well.

Focused on the Future
I think it's worth noting that when Kofax says that 35% of its new license revenue is coming from sales of "mobile and new or acquired software products" that does not necessarily mean these are true SPA sales. They may be of technologies that can be leveraged in SPAs, but capture fits under that bill as well. The majority of these sales, from what I understand, are more or less point solution sales - that said, some are into new and exciting markets, like in the case Kapow's data integration technology.

Yes, Kofax seems to be treating capture like a cash cow, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. As we've said several times over the past year, the capture market is maturing, especially at the enterprise level where Kofax often competes. This may have something to do with the delays in larger sales. There is nothing wrong with a market leader taking its profits from a mature technology and investing them in a potentially higher growth emerging market. Let's just hope that the SPA market proves to be the correct bet for Kofax.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Is HP Split the Right Move?

Last week's big news (well, aside from Kofax pre-reporting disappointing fiscal 15 Q1 numbers) was HP's announcement that it plans to split its software, services, and storage business from its PC and printers business. From what I can tell, it appears to be about an even split revenue-wise. In HP's more recently reported quarter (ended July 31), revenue from Personal Systems and Printing (which will become HP, Inc.) was $14.2B, while revenue from everything else, including Enterprise Group & Services, and Software (which will become Hewlett-Packard Enterprise), was $14.3B. Earnings of $2.7B were similarly split.

So, why is HP breaking up the company? Well, the most straightforward answer was given to me by Chad Stigall, senior manager, solutions portfolio at value-added document imaging distributor Cranel.

And that certainly makes sense, and maybe I'm looking at this from too narrow of a perspective, but my perspective is one that comes the document imaging industry and from the context of that market, I'm not sure splitting up the two business makes sense.

I already felt this way, and then here's the quote I got from Canon's Tom O'Neill last week when working on a story on the latest version of the MFP vendor's uniFLOW fleet management software. "“You’re going to hear more from us on the benefits of an integrated solutions and platform strategy,” he said. “We have several Canon group companies based in Europe, like NT-ware [which develops uniFLOW], I.R.I.S., and Therefore [a document management ISV]—we are able to integrate their technologies with each other, as well as directly into the imageRUNNER ADVANCE platform.

"This will help us create a very strong integrated solutions platform that we believe will relieve a lot of the frustration and pain for our dealers and channel. Nobody wants to have to manage three or four different vendors to create a solution, and Canon understands that. Also, customers aren’t looking to buy a device or software like uniFLOW or Therefore. They are looking to buy solutions to their problems, and we want to provide that to them in a way where the technology is transparent."

So, Canon is talking about combining hardware and software into solutions and HP it talking about splitting up its hardware and software businesses. Lexmark, which continues to roll up software under the Perceptive Software flag, seems to be heading the same direction as Canon. And so is Konica-Minolta, although in its case it is rolling up services businesses to combine with its hardware business. Xerox took a similar approach to KM-although on a much bigger scale when it acquired ACS a few years back, which is now known as Xerox Services and is a very large focus for the copier pioneer.

So, why is HP heading in a different direction than these competitors and spinning off its printer business on its own? Well, for one, the printer business is not being spun off on its own. It's being tied to the PC business--which is ironic if you remember that a few years ago there was a war when some of HP's investors wanted to split off the printer business from the PC business. But, the two were kept together and since then HP has made two huge acquisitions, of EDS (services) and Autonomy (software)--and now the plans are to spin off those two acquisitions as part of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.

Here's my issue. EDS was acquired in 2008 and Autonomy in 2011- and I really don't think HP has done a good job integrating them into their core business. So, it seems to me they are punting. Really? Is now the time to give up on this integration just when all your competitors are either moving towards this type of model and/or have already achieved it on some levels?

The only plausible excuse for this split from my standpoint is that HP is ahead of the game. In other words, the integration of hardware, software, and services is all a big sham and what every hardware vendor really wants to do is move to a strictly higher margin software and services model and eliminate their hardware. Isn't this what Kofax did when it sold DICOM? And HP is just the first MFP vendor to admit this and dump the hardware-albeit in a fairly graceless fashion.

Now, I'm not saying this is valid, and I certainly don't expect Perceptive to dump the Lexmark hardware business anytime soon, but, really, isn't that what HP is kind of trying to do here?

So, the next move would be for them to pick up the hardware-free Kofax, whose market cap has dipped below $600M and add it to their Hewlett-Packard Enterprise business and move on from there. Where does this leave the MFP/Printer/Scanner business? Well back where it started before any software and services were brought into the mix, and if one is to believe the current trends in the market, that's not necessarily an advantageous place to be.