Monday, July 26, 2004

eCopy Rumors

In the latest issue of The MFP Report Editor Brian Bissett mentions that digital copier scanning application specialist eCopy might be courting new hardware vendors. eCopy, the former Simplify, has worked almost exclusively with Canon to date, and in 2002 even secured $15.8 million investment by Canon. However, Canon has continued ahead with its own scanning initiatives which seems to give eCopy the go ahead to pursue other relationships. Bissett speculated Ricoh would be a natural fit, although Ricoh already markets its own Global Scan pacakage that advertises similar functionality to eCopy. How well it actually works, however, we can't say. We can say that eCopy has had documented success over the past several years - to a much higher degree than any other vendor can boast of - so they have definitely proven their pudding - or whatever the term is.

Anyways, look for some news from eCopy in the upcoming months..



Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Color Document Imaging

Here we ago again. This is a subject that has almost become hackneyed, strike the almost, in recent years. When will users adopt color document imaging en masse. Hasn't happened yet. Color scanners and front office imaging adoption nonewithstanding, perhaps that final thing standing between color adoption by end users is a decent file format. Don't get me wrong- I realize that JPEG works fine for the exception documents that are typically scanned in color today. However, several vendors including TMSSequoia, LizardTech, AlgoVision LuraTech and now Adobe have tried to push color capture software and it really hasn't worked yet. Of all these, Adobe probably has the best chance of succeeding - just because it's the only one with the size to wait the transition out. Who would have thunk TIFF Group 4 was so ingrained in people's document imaging  habits?
Anyways, I've posted the latest release of an agreement between LizardTech and Captiva on our Web site. I've been blasted for my support of DjVu in the past, but I'll stand by my opinion that it's a fairly good file format, if not as revolutionary as it was five years ago, now that Adobe and JPEG 2000 Part VI have had a chance to catch up. Nonetheless, as I reported in a post-AIIM issue, LizardTech appears to making a last stand with the technology and striking up as many alliances as they can. Reports from Captiva are that IAX is selling well in Europe through the company's relationships with Headway - so maybe DjVu will catch on in Europe too...

Friday, July 16, 2004

Remember InterTech?

Here's a story about another document imaging vendor being acquired by a medical records company. Just more evidence of how HIPAA has been driving the adoption of imaging in medical records applications-probably the hottest vertical space for imaging right now.
ChartOne, Inc. Acquires eWebHealth; Acquisition Forms Healthcare's Most Comprehensive Set of Technology Products and Services for Automating Health Information Management
SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 12, 2004--ChartOne, Inc., one of the nation's oldest and largest suppliers of medical record management services and technology, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire InterTech Information Management, Inc. (d/b/a eWebHealth) of Alpharetta, Georgia. eWebHealth, formerly eWebCoding, offers a range of Web-based applications designed to expedite the secure delivery of medical records over the Internet. These applications will be added to ChartOne's existing suite of technology and service offerings, allowing the company to offer the industry's most comprehensive set of solutions for electronic health information management.
With over a thousand customers, ChartOne is a leading provider of patient chart management solutions to the healthcare industry. eWebHealth has nearly 250 hospital and clinic customers using its remote coding and Web-based document imaging solutions. The combination gives these customers as well as other healthcare organizations the most flexible array of options for beginning or continuing their transition to electronic health information management.
"In just four years, eWebHealth has built a best-of-breed reputation for delivering innovative technology coupled with superior customer service," said Brian Cahill, CEO of ChartOne. "Our shared philosophies and commitment to our customers make this combination a very natural and exciting progression in our evolution."
"We set out to provide applications for medical record access using the application service provider (ASP) model, the first of which was eWebCoding," explained Mike Kelly, president and CEO of eWebHealth. "Our customers, realizing its value and potential, asked us to develop additional solutions to assist them in improving revenue cycle management, record access and other document management functions. While evaluating the growing needs of our customers, we saw the benefits of joining with ChartOne and bringing to market a powerful set of combined tools."
The combined ChartOne/eWebHealth offerings provide secure, anytime-anywhere access to medical records to authenticated users: clinicians, billing and other health information management staff. Specific products automate emergency department medical record access, coding, release of information, disclosure reporting and chart completion, including collection of physicians' electronic signatures. Web access to medical records has the additional advantage of enabling scarce staff resources, such as coders, to perform their functions from home, a capability that significantly enhances job satisfaction and increases retention.
"Bringing these complementary product sets together into one comprehensive set allows our customers to automate each phase of the health information management process in the way that makes the most sense for them," said Cahill. "The result is major improvements in workflow efficiency and communication, which in turn benefits both patient care and the healthcare organization's revenue cycle."

Thursday, July 15, 2004

voice messages as part of ECM

This is a pretty cool story on a company integrating voice messages with e-mail. It's my opinion that eventually voice messages are going to be a very important part of ECM, just as e-mail is becoming now. Just wait until some savvy lawyer figures out how to sue someone because of a lost voicemail or something along those lines..

Franklin Announces Voice Mail to Email Product
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 07/14/2004 -- Franklin 800 Corp. has announced a new Email product for the Tempest Voice® product. This product converts voice messages into an Internet Protocol packet -- attaches it to an Email and sends it to the customer.

Franklin's President & CEO Frank Peters stated, "This new product introduction represents years of development and is the first of many new products envisioned for the growth of our company. This should allow us to capitalize on the expanding need of customers for high-end applications while offering a standard consumer phone number for future One Number Messaging. This product, (Tempest Voice) Voice Mail to Email presents us a chance to see our revenues move forward."

Peters continued: "The benefits of this service are that we create a record of the voice calling our customers like an answering machine. The major difference is that you now they have a permanent record of the message in machine readable form to redistribute, save or Broadcast as the customer sees fit. The Email is in IP format and can be sent to any Internet Protocol (IP) communications application. This is very powerful. The customer receives a Voice Mail Number and/or can call forward your unanswered calls to your Email Voice Mail number. eg. 805/601-xxxx. Franklin will also, at a later date offer 800 numbers for a per minute charge.

"The customer may use their existing Email account, or a new one to receive Voice Mail messages as attachments. Soon the Voice Mail can be delivered to several Email addresses. Employers can have a central Email mail box to copy all messages.

"The customer must have an Email service which will permit and forward attachments of any size up to 1MB. This could be a problem for some people with free Email accounts which strip off attachments."

Peters added, "This is NOT a voice recognitions system, the voice is recorded and converted in a codec which will, when attached to an Email or other media will play back the voice just like a tape recorder. The difference is that now your voice is in a machine readable form which will allow you to Forward and Broadcast messages you receive to any Email address or other Internet Protocol (IP) communications device. This is very powerful."

The incoming telephone call to a dedicated number is answered by Franklin which plays a custom greeting the customer records. The caller leaves a message (up to 1 minute). Franklin creates an Email and imbeds or attaches the voice to the Email. You actually hear the person's voice.

Franklin sends the mail to the customer Email account or accounts. The message is stored until the data capacity is reached, or downloaded, then erased. The customer may set up an automatic download of their messages each week to move the data to their computer and/or have Franklin transfer all messages to DVD and keep them at Franklin. This is off line and off site data storage.

Franklin 800 Corp. is a well-established company located in Westlake Village CA for the past 8 years. (24 years including the predecessor Franklin Telecommunications Corp.) The company designs, manufactures and leases Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) equipment and application software.

733 Lakefield Road Westlake Village CA 91361 805/373-8688

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Power of BPM

This is a fairly interesting release about the power of business processing management (BPM) - which is gaining attention on the national front. BPM is of course the successor to the workflow technology imaging vendors helped pioneer. BPM is to ECM as workflow is to document imaging:

"Wanted to share with you the results from from a poll conducted by Exigen at the ACORD/LOMA insurance conference in May 2004. The results give a glimpse into the mind of insurance managers and executives, to reveal what they think are the most prevalent symptoms of business process inefficiencies in their business.

The poll revealed nine in ten (89 percent) insurance executives say inefficient business processes are having a negative effect on their organizations. Staff morale and productivity suffer as a result, but almost half (49 percent) of insurers still have no business process quality assessment in place. Some of the most common symptoms of business process inefficiency are customer inquiries resulting in a flurry of internal calls and emails, as well as a reliance on complex workarounds that make it difficult for more junior staff to take on tasks because there aren't intuitive systems in place. "

That came from a BPM company called Exigen.



Monday, July 12, 2004

Lastest document imaging patent

Oh yeah, and if you haven't seen it, here' the latest in the world of document imaging patents. It's now owned by a Cleveland company called Agilysys. We're trying to set up a call this week and hope to have more in our next issue of DIR.

Monday morning round-up

How about this acquisition? You have to give Dicom credit for really going after developing markets and it doesn't look like it was that huge of an investment, so if things go wrong...

Speaking of developing markets, I guess Stellent saw an opportunity in a different part of the world.

Also, WebMD continues to invest heavily in the claims market. You remember a couple months back they agreed to pay up to $65 million to acquire forms processing specialist dakota - whose annual revenue was less than $20 million. Now, they've offered greater than three times revenue for a company that looks like some sort of EDI specialist. We've yet to hear much good or bad about how the acquisition is affecting dakota. We can say that WebMD has definitely drawn a bead on this market.

Finally, we were asked to judge these awards a few years back. I wonder why we haven't been asked back?

Please feel free to e-mail me about setting you up to post to this site also - and of course, please use the comment section as well.

Take care


Friday, July 09, 2004

Scanner basics

This is nothing too great, espcially if you know the industry but I thought it was a nice short scanner-type description. Comes in handy when doing those imaging "101" explanations.


Distributed vs. ad hoc scanning

Just got off the phone with ScanSoft senior VP and marketing whiz Robert Weideman. We discussed several topics including ScanSoft's PDF efforts as well as distributed capture. Both topics are obviously related as document imaaging moves closer to the front office from its back-office roots. We'll cover some of the PDF stuff in the next issue of DIR. I'll also cover some distributed stuff in the Sept. issue of Transform.

However, as I typically don't quote vendors in the Transform article, I'll give you some ideas of what Weideman said about distributed capture. He views ad hoc distributed capture as a very hot market, even moreso for ScanSoft than using distributed capture to feed a traditional ECM system. This ad hoc scanning, (my term, not his) involves scanning documents to make their distribution easier in an office environment, not to feed an ECM process or system. He gave the example of bringing back competitive marketing materials from a trade show (maybe on Capio? in ScanSoft's case) and distributed them through the intranet or e-mail instead of making paper copies and passing them around.

This is a nice story and Rich Medina of Doculabs on a recent Transform Webinar also indicated this was a growing market. I'm hoping to talk with a ScanSoft customer who does this for the upcoming Transform article. The only issue I have with this space is the difficulty in proving a hard ROI in today's ROI-driven times. BPM is traditionally the big ROI driver in document imaging and ad hoc processes are more difficult to define under traditional BPM models. However, as BPM continues to grow out of its workflow roots [see DIR 7/2/04 - contact me if you don't have a copy:] for details on this, ad hoc processes are being eveloped.

They key to this growth of ad hoc imaging, according to Weideman is the scan-enablement of digital copiers. The way workgroup scanners have been flying into the market - with more then 100% growth last year-- we assume quite a few of them are also being used for this type application. Yes, down and dirty scanning is on the way.



Thursday, July 08, 2004

Video talk

I hope this is my final post for the day, but I've just got so much to tell you all...

here is an article from one of my favorite columnists Bob Cringely of PBS. He discusses video compression techniques. Because many of you have work for years with document imaging compression and image quality, I thought you might find this interesting. The emerging digital video market has characteristics the parrallel some of the work imaging vendors have done over the years and some imaging people -most notably Steve Francis, formerly of Pixel, and Excalibur, which went on to merge with part of Intel (I believe it was Intel) to become Convera.

FileNET gets hammered

I guess you saw yesterday that FileNET's shares got hammered pretty good, losing about 20% of their value following their pre-announcement of second quarter numbers that came in below analyst expecations. FileNET only missed its number of 5-7%, so we think they were harshly punished - which good open the door for an opportunistic buyer. Keep on eye on this over the next couple days.

Anyways with the ECM market as healthy as it appears, we still think FileNET's strong user base, reputation, and technology expertise make it strong company in the long run. CEO and Chairman Lee Roberts blamed sales that didn't close fast enough - which is the new common Wall Street excuse. I guess we could have seen this coming on account of the fact that 10% of FileNET's first quarter revenue came from one large deal and otherwise the company would have missed the 1Q numbers as well. Still the company remains profitable and has like $300 million in the bank. Next to Documentum and IBM, it's probably the third most attractive ECM company on the market.



Welcome to new DIR Blog

Hey, this could be fun. This is the natural successor to the Web Discussion Board the we orginally started but decided was too hard to manage. This is the DIR Blog where I can post news, comments and other sorts of neat links I find on the Web. You can post too under the comment section and I plan to invite some of you to become members and write your own posts.

The cool thing about the comment section is that you can make anonymous comments, so go ahead and feel free to post anything you want - on the topics of imaging and ECM - or at least related to them.

Looking forward to seeing how this works out.

More on the SSA -other summer thoughts

I apologize for the lack of recent updates in the “Thinking Out Loud” section of the Web site. As you may have seen, I’ve been fairly busy writing articles for Transform Magazine, as well as my regular duties with the Document Imaging Report. Currently, I’m working on a distributed capture piece for Transform. We’re trying to discuss the maturation of this evolving application (how’s that for turning a phrase) and I am still looking for a couple more mature end user sites. If you know of any that are willing to discuss, please let me know.

Speaking of Transform, did you all see the recent article I did on the SSA’s $900 million electronic folder instlallation?

This is quite an ambitious project. I profiled Kofax’s part in the deal in a recent issue of DIR [ 5-21-04]. I then had the opportunity to interview William Gray, who is basically in charge of the whole installation for the SSA. Based on the cash he controls, he is clearly one of the government’s heavy hitters when it comes to IT. Gray seemed very confident in the project, which had recently come under from fire from the Government Accounting Office. The GAO didn’t feel the SSA had implemented enough controls to ensure the project’s success. The SSA, in turn dismissed these controls as an impediment to the project and feel they would have stalled it and reduced the ROI. Basically, this project is a huge gamble, as the SSA is expecting a return of some $1.3 billion over seven years, which clearly doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. For the sake of document imaging’s reputation, let’s hope it works out.

It’s interesting to note that the projected has both centralized and distributed capture elements, with the Kofax software being used for the decentralized capture at more than 1,000 regional SSA offices. The centralized capture will be handled by a service bureau, which will involve a fairly large contract that has not yet been decided. Contrary to what we originally reported in DIR, there will be no scanner contract, as the regional offices are apparently going to rely on flatbeds that they mostly already have.

Many people know that the SSA was formerly a large eiStream imaging customer (dating back to the company’s roots as an arm of Wang) but has built its new system utilizing IBM’s Content Manager document imaging repository. We think part of the reason the SSA may have been eager to talk about the benefits of the new system may have been the fact that the eiStream implementation was basically a failure and the GAO had recently got done slamming the way the new system was being handled.

Anyway, hope your summer has been going well. Weather has been beautiful for a change up here in Erie, PA and I’ve actually had a chance to play some golf. News has been pretty slow although big installations like those at the SSA seem to be on the rise.

An analyst who has been covering this market for a long time recently told me that document imaging is the “new, hot technology.” I’d have to agree. I recently was contracted by a local organization to teach some document management basics to small businesses and it seems interest is up across the board. Enjoy it while you can. And remember that as interest increases, vertical specialties are going to become even more important, because interest will mean increased competition, which means you need a differentiation.

And the bottom like with imaging, is that it is not the scan that important, but what you do with it. Vertical knowledge is key to determining what you do with the information on that scanned page.

That’s all for now.

Remember also to continue to visit our Web site. Thanks to all of you who have helped increase our average traffic to some 400 visits per day averaging 10-20 pages. We promise to keep improving our content.