Friday, April 04, 2014

AIIM 2014, Freakanomics, and Freddie Mercury

Just got back from enjoying three days at the AIIM Conference 2014 in Orlando. Yes, the weather was great - especially considering the winter/spring we had/are having up here in northwestern PA. But, as I predicted in my previous post, I ended up spending very little time outside enjoying the weather. Instead, my time was spent mostly indoors at the conference, enjoying great conversations, ideas, networking, sessions, and alright, I had a few beers.

I'll have full coverage of the event in my next premium issue of DIR, coming out next week, but I wanted to go over one thought I had, which was re-enforced by a podcast I happened to be listening to on the way home. That thought is that we in the technology industry often get way ahead of the end users. No, this is not anything strikingly new, but I think we all need a little reminding now and then.

For example, I attended a roundtable on high-volume scanner. Mark Brousseau (a former DIR editor many moons ago) was the host and, as always, he did a great job encouraging audience participation. In other words, he called people out and demanded to know why they were there. Anyhow, the biggest problem among the end users at the roundtable was manual sorting of documents. One user specifically complained about having to print and insert bar-coded separator sheets before scanning, even though they were licensing capture software from a vendor who has an auto-classification option. Heck, there are multiple auto-classification products on the market. I've seen the demos and they seem to work well enough, but as usual, in many cases the users seem to be too heads down with their operations to want to try anything new. Based on my experience covering capture technologies like OCR and IDR, I'm convinced that it's just a matter of time before auto-classification is widely adopted - it's just that that time is not here as fast as many vendors want it to be.

In addition, I heard more than one comment about the lack of technological savvy of many of the conference attendees. I think they may have felt they were talking over the attendees' heads-which they may have been. But, this is a good reality check. It helps everyone realize that the buyers are not as sophisticated as we often want them to be. After all, these attendees each spent probably a couple grand to come to the event, so they weren't there to fool around. They were looking for something - but maybe it wasn't quite the advanced something that many vendors were pitching - at least not yet. Remember, it takes an acorn to grow an oak.

Finally, all of this was re-enforced on my ride home when listening a recent Freakonomics podcast. It is titled "It's Fun to Smoke Marijuana,"and no , that's not the title of an old Cheech & Chong album (well, maybe it is too), but in this case it is referring to what is supposedly being said by Queen when you play their hit single "Another One Bites the Dust" backwards. Basically, if you don't know they are supposed to be saying that, it sounds like gibberish, but if you are listening for it, it's like how could you miss it?

The podcast is about how people's perspectives are skewed by their own knowledge. Because we know so much about advanced capture, we naturally think others should too. This podcast explains that this is not a character flaw - it's really just natural. Anyhow, just something to keep in mind when marketing to all those luddites out there.



Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Heading to AIIM Conference 2014

Have a few minutes as I'm delayed in the Buffalo Airport for another hour it appears. Looking forward to heading down to Orlando for a few days of nice weather - even if I am going to be suffering from the eternal conference conundrum - you are stuck inside (at least) 90% of the time. But, nonetheless I'm certain the company will be good. I have a number of great appointments set up and am looking forward to catching up both on and off the record with multiple people and organizations.

There are also a lot of good conference tracks and roundtables on the agenda.

Free wi-fi in airports is a great development. I'm sitting here plugged in at one of those Southwest counters, working almost as efficiently as I would be at my home office (fingers crossed).

Speaking of hi-tech developments, I'm liking this AIIM app so far. From what I understand they are not going to have any paper agendas distributed at the event, so they are kind of forcing people to use the app. Seems to be working as there is certainly a good amount of activity on it. However, I just went through and tried to select my agenda and some of the events that were listed online seem to be missing in the app agenda. Need to figure this out, although I'll probably end up missing half the sessions I plan on hitting anyhow - as I get caught up in conversations.

Alright, plane is here. Should be boarding in a few minutes. Looking forward to seeing some of you in Orlando later today!

Scheduled for a root canal on Friday

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kofax, QAI, SPAs - Did They Help Fix

This summer Kofax announced a $7M deal with a government agency that was among the biggest in company's history. It included more than $4M in software license revenue and $3.5M for four years of prepaid software maintenance. The deal was to a government agency and was sold through federally-focused Fulton, MD-based systems integrator and conversion services provider Quality Associates, Inc. (QAI).

At Kofax's recent Transform Conference, QAI was recognized by Kofax with its Award for Partner Deal of the Year. A few more details surrounding the customer came out. "The overall contract will help a government healthcare agency manage efforts related to enrolling uninsured citizens in state insurance exchanges, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – millions of paper and electronic applications and other documentation are received, reviewed and verified for completeness and eligibility, and processed in an environment that protects applicants’ personal information."

QAI is presenting this as a First Mile implementation leveraging Kofax's Smart Process Application technology. Of course, this is exactly what I was calling for as I was going through my personal experience trying to sign up for a new healthcare plan at US Government Web site. At least it appears we are all on the same page now, which may have something to do with the sharp decrease in complaints we've heard recently about the onboarding process.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Who is TIS' latest Census Win?

Top Image Systems (TIS) has been a leader in the census capture market for a long time. Recently it was recognized "as an approved vendor for the UNPFA (United Nations Population Fund Agency), the organization responsible for the execution of censuses worldwide." TIS has followed that up with the announcement of a census win that will bring it more than $1M in revenue. This includes implementing a capture and document management system.

The project is for a country in EMEA with a population of more than 15 million. So, who could this be? According to the Web site NationsOnline, there are five EMEA countries that fall between the population figure of 15-20 million (there are five more between 20 and 22 million). Those five countries are:

(We'll guess the Netherlands, but that is just a guess:)

Cameroon Central Africa 19,406,000

Romania Eastern Europe 19,043,000

Netherlands Western Europe 16,733,000

Niger Western Africa 16,275,000

Burkina Faso Western Africa 15,731,000                                                      

Monday, March 10, 2014

Kofax Transform 2014 Kicks-Off - A Brief Look at Kapow

I am out there in San Diego Kofax's annual user and partner conference. Things kicked off last night with a reception/partner product showcase. One of the goals of my trip out here was to get a better understanding of Kapow - the data integration software company that Kofax acquired last year. I had a fairly long discussion with a Kapow salesperson last night as well as a demo. Basically, he described the "technology as the glue that binds." In other words - here's the way I understand it at least - it has the ability, without API programming, to go into any application and extract requested data. This can include both internal and external sites. And it's a two-way integration, so, if the collected data comes back in a way that indicates some sort of action should be taken, the Kapow software can also execute that action by submitting new data. And the software is designed so that these integrations can be set up by business analysts, with help from IT staff only for certain customizations.

Here's a case study of how Audi used Kapow to create an internal portal. How it fits into the Kofax platform is that it should enable Kofax's capture and Altosoft data integration sofware to be integrated with an unlimited number of third-party applications - which should push forward Kofax's First Mile strategy. The First Mile of course was the big marketing strategy pushed forward last year under then CMO Martyn Christian at Transform. All indiciations are that Kofax plans to continue down that strategic line. I'm interested to see how today's presenatations and interviews play out.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Strong SaaS and Mobile Revenue Highlights TIS 'Q4/Year-End Financials

Some highlights from Top Image Systems 4th quarter/year-end 2013 financials that were announced today:
  • Fourth quarter revenue of $8M, up from 7.35M for Q4 '12.
  • Year-end revenue of $29M for '13, down from $31.3M in 2012
  • In 2013, mobile technology revenue accounted for10% of total and exceeded forecasts in this area by 100%
  • SaaS revenue for Q4 was $360,000
Michael Schrader, COO, from the press release, “In 2013 we have reinforced our transition strategy, investing significantly in cloud and mobility and expanding our hybrid business model to gradually grow our SaaS subscription-based operations while maintaining our existing on-premise business....Current investments in our cloud-based solutions will further promote SaaS sales. In 2013 we reinforced our mobile and cloud-directed product development strategy with powerful channel and technology partnerships, product launches, patent filings and key organizational changes to drive US market growth.  We are confident that our business model transition and clear focus on our cloud, SaaS and mobile solution strategies in 2013 will drive us to maximum revenue growth.”

Friday, February 28, 2014

I.R.I.S. Partners with Scytl to Create Document Imaging Systems for Elections

I.R.I.S. recently made an interesting announcement about a partnership with Scytl, which develops election management and voting systems. I.R.I.S., which is now owned by Canon Europe, is a developer of document imaging and automatic recognition/data extraction software. The companies recently got together and successfully completed election projects in Ecuador and Honduras.

From the press release, "Scytl looked for a company that could prove efficient extraction technology to complement their offering for the Ecuadorian elections 2013. The request encompassed supporting the election specific process where: the voting slips were gathered in the polling stations and grouped into reports. These were then scanned and processed in a decentralized scenario in 105 scanning centers. With I.R.I.S.’ advanced extraction technologies, Scytl was able to capture the election results from the reports automatically."

The reason this partnership interests me so much is because of what I, and several other people, consider to be security concerns associated with electronic voting systems installed in many states in the U.S.A. that don't produce any paper records. Due to my experience with document imaging, I don't understand why we don't utilize scanners, like Scytl is apparently doing with the help of I.R.I.S.' technology. A couple years, OMR technology was tried in the NYC area, but several glitches occurred. Perhaps Scytl, which seems to have successfully pulled off two Latin American elections with I.R.I.S.' help can bring its technology North.