Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brutal fourth-quarter for Kodak

It was a not a good finish to 2008 at all for Kodak. Fourth-quarter total sales were off by 24%. This led to a $137 million loss for the quarter, compared to a $215 million profit a year ago. Document Imaging was not cited specifically as one of the poor performers, but the Graphics Communications business (hurt by a softer commercial printing market), where Document Imaging resides, posted a $4 million operating loss, compared to a $30 million profit a year ago. This was the result of sales falling 14%.

In conjunction with the year-end report, which dropped the company's stock more than 20% to just over $5 per share, Kodak also announced up to 4,500 upcoming layoffs, or 14-18% of the entire staff. We understand some of those layoffs are already affecting Document Imaging. We're not sure how this is all going to reconcile with the Bowe Bell + Howell Scanner acquisition the is supposed to close before the end of the quarter and the jobs that have apparently been promised to BBH employees.

We'll be catching up with Kodak Document Imaging execs at next month's Kodak Executive Summit in San Antonio.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

layoffs at IBM

Interesting story here on how IBM handles their layoffs. Not sure if this is affecting the CM/FileNet businesses, but software has definintely been affected. Of coursre, IBM has a huge software business. Apparently, these layoffs help IBM maintain impressive profitability which is great for shareholders-but not so great for employees.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Autonomy Acquires Interwoven

I guess you've probably seen this by now, but the search and artificial intelligence specialist Autonomy has announced intentions to acquire ECM player Interwoven for $775 million. Interwoven, which began life as a Web-content management vendor, added electronic document mangement technology a few years back with the acquisition of Interwoven. It is also fairly strong in the digital asset management world-also through an acquisition.

The iManage acquisition gave Interwoven a strong foothold in the legal vertical. Autonomy's has e-discovery technology and ambitions that make the entree into the legal market a natural.

One interestsing angle for us is how, and if, Autonomy plans to leverage the Cardiff capture technology it acquired with Verity as a front end to iManage. If it does, that could be bad news for long-time iManage partner Kofax, which also recently got some bad news when Open Text acquired Captaris. We're currently trying to get in touch with someone at Cardiff to find out what sort of shape the capture business is in-as we haven't heard much from them lately, and we understand that former GM and CTO Mark Siemens has left.

Autonomy also has a number of OEM agreements for search technology with potential Interwoven competitors that could be jeopardized if Autonomy isn't real careful. Google, we're sure would love to steal some of that business.

Finally, here's ECM analyst Alan Pelz-Sharpe's take on the acquisition. He's a bit critical of Autonomy.

Ralph

Monday, January 26, 2009

Outsourcing report

Here's an interesting press release I received last week:

"IBM bucked tech industry trends this week by reporting a healthy fourth quarter profit and even a feel-good forecast for 2009 - based heavily on the contributions of the company's software and service business. IBM registered a 20% jump in outsourcing contracts and related work - solid proof that while many companies are cutting back on overall IT spending, the recession appears to be giving a boost to IT and business oursourcing, particularly as a means to cut core operating expenses. For some industry context behind IBM's strong performance - we offer the latest annual review of Global Sourcing Trends by law firm Morrison & Foerster.

This is the third year that Morrison & Foerster has produced a macro year-end/year-ahead review of the global sourcing landscape. This year’s report comes amidst some extreme events impacting the industry – not only the economic crisis, but in the wake of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and the startling financial fraud unfolding at India sourcing giant Satyam.
Among the current trend lines reported by Morrison & Foerster for the coming year:

A pronounced shift toward cost-driven deals: “Many companies are looking to drive further value and cost improvements on existing deals, often via re-negotiation, service levels and other key terms.” In other words, this could be a good sourcing buyer’s market;

A probable slowdown in new sourcing activity among financial service firms, which traditionally have fueled sector growth; instead, look for institutions to “maximize value and rationalize existing deals” – again putting pressure on cost structure;

Some shakeout is all but guaranteed among service providers, some of whom will endure not current market conditions; survivors will be those “that have sector and geographic diversity, well-managed overheads, and deep, long-term customer relationships.”

At same time, consolidation among largest sourcing firms will mean “less leverage for customers in future negotiations;”

Expect to see more attention on new risk and liability provisions in existing contracts regarding data and privacy breaches;

The Satyam scandal is certain to prompt a “flight to quality” by sourcing customers, with an attendant surge in due diligence;

An unfortunate bi-product of the financial crisis will be a rise in disputes, including litigation, as corporate purchasers become less inclined to waive or ignore potential liability claims.

Morrison & Foerster has one of the most active sourcing law firm practices internationally. Recent engagements include representation of the UK’s official Revenue & Customs authority as well as New York University Hospitals Center in its long-term IT sourcing agreement with IBM and Lenovo Group valued at more than $600 million. The group’s key members handle global projects primarily from the firm’s New York, London and Hong Kong offices.
Please click here to see the full 2009 Sourcing Trends "

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kodak to Acquire BBH Scanners

If you haven't seen it, here' s the announcement, which was made late yesterday. If the deal goes through, which it's expected to before the end of March (AIIM 2009 is in late March-early April), it could be the end of an era for one of the pioneers in the document scanner business. Bell + Howell entered the scanner business more than 20 years ago, in 1986, with the acquisition of Image Peripherals, Inc. (IPI)- the North American arm of a Belgian scanner company co-founded by Dan and Roland Borrey. Bell + Howell went on to tremendous success with its Copiscan and Copiscan II scanner lines, before hitting a rough patch, when it was nearly acquired by Kodak in late 2000. An inquiry by the U.S. Justice Dept. put off that sale, even as Bell + Howell sold its much large product services business to Kodak. BBH scanners then rebounded strongly, landing a huge deal with FedEx that was followed up by the launch of its successful Spectrum series of high-speed scanners.

The news out of BBH scanners over the past few years has always been positive, but that fact is, aside from the introduction of fairly revolutionary large format scanner a couple years ago, there hasn't been too much substantial to report on. And as scanning was not core to parent Bowe Systec's business, the writing was probably on the wall. Plus, we even predicted in last week's issue of DIR that the economy and market environment was ripe for some hardware consolidation. I guess we were right.

Monday, January 12, 2009

SOA and the value of the pound

Received two interesting and unrelated e-mails over the course of the past couple days:

Here's the first. (It discusses how you can save on software purchases by buying them through U.K. sites, because the pound is relatively right now)

Weak UK pound benefits US buyers of Scan2CAD raster to vector conversion software.

The worldwide credit crisis has resulted in the weakest British pound for many years. For US CAD and CNC software buyers, this provides a ray of sunshine in what is otherwise a generally gray and gloomy economic prospect. The current weak British pound allows US buyers of British software to take advanatage of a favorable strong dollar / weak pound exchange rate to save around 20% on their purchases.

Softcover International Limited, the UK publisher of the industry-leading Scan2CAD automatic raster to vector conversion software, has announced US buyers purchasing Scan2CAD Pro from its UK-based website, www.softcover.com, will save around 20% or approximately US $100 on the US $498 list price. A saving of about US $60 is to be had on Scan2CAD Regular (list price US $298).

These savings are only available while the British pound is in its current weak state. Any strengthening in the pound and the savings will be reduced. However, any further weakening in the pound and the savings will increase. Interested buyers wanting to save money should take advantage of this situation while the pound is weak to buy Scan2CAD now.

Today's (2009.01.12) opening exchange rate is GBP £1 = USD $1.49, among the lowest in more than six years, down from a peak of $2.1160 last November. The last time the pound fell at this speed was in 1992. Any US CAD and CNC buyers purchasing Scan2CAD now will get the biggest bang for their buck available in automatic raster to vector conversion today.
advice. - END OF RELEASE

Does this work for scanners too?

Release number two:

This is a release for a book on SOA implementations. As some background, I mentioned SOA as one the trends document imaging professionals need to be aware of in 2009. Despite some setbacks, I don't believe that SOA is DOA and apparently, the author of this book doesn't think so either.

Here the release, which is fairly comprehensive and includes some interesitng points:


"Seven steps to SOA nirvana…

'Adopting a services-oriented architecture should be undertaken as a gradual process, working toward your vision of a new IT enterprise which is more responsive to business drivers,' says expert Tom Termini.

Complex concepts have emerged over the past few years regarding the potential productivity an organization can achieve with their web site. But few take the mystery out of as well as a new book titled The Zen of SOA by Tom Termini.

Termini has created an executive blueprint which describes how top management can look and move forward with clear goals, appropriate resources and confidence. Termini explains how Zen can be applied in the development and deployment of a system architecture in a manner easily understood by managers making them more effective in the complex world of information technology.

The key in this quest is to act as a mediator who understands the roles of the critical actors and players and to adopt a posture that is both flexible and resilient.


Termini sees the adoption of SOA as a continuum.

Among the many ideas he recommends to successfully deploy an effective SOA:

1. Learn from others – study what worked for other organizations that may have had parallel processes, or similar objectives to yours. For example, at the Federal Trade Commission, we learned that commodity hardware and software promote the transition toward a fully-realized SOA. From the detritus of a failed EAI effort, the fruits of a SOA success can be found with the creative application of an “agile” approach.

2. Maintain a “baby-steps” approach toward a fully-realized SOA – expectations are more realistic, costs are spread over a longer period, risk is deferred, and you have the opportunity to foster organizational adoption. Cultural resistance is often the primary reason for failure in enterprise IT endeavors. If your adoption posture is incremental, you will lessen the impact on your organization, customers, and partners so they can assimilate change gradually.

3. SOA is more about the business customer than about IT innovation. Service-Oriented Architecture, when rolled out successfully, can empower the people driving the business processes in your organization, free up limited Information technology resources, and improve flexibility to meet change. While on task at the U.S. Department of Justice, we learned a portal is integral to Web-enabling the enterprise. Why? It provides the single, simple point-of-entry to the SOA-enabled systems for the less-technical business user. We found the portal was excellent at answering the question, where do I go to find what we already have? It also simplifies the human interface, since all Web applications share the look-and-feel or some derivative of the portal’s cascading style sheet. Finally, the portal simplifies single-sign-on access - and ease of access means greater acceptance by the user community.

4. ESB does not equal SOA. Providing an enterprise services bus (ESB) to your organization does not mean you have a SOA. Gaining a full grasp of this concept is key to embracing the Zen of SOA. Think commodity software as well as hardware: one of the keys to SOA success. While we’ve found the messaging layer to be critical, often time success can be achieved by simplifying a few key business processes and SOA-enabling with a web service. Example: customer record lookup, because so many systems touch on that process.

5. Manage the SOA as part of the whole enterprise. Think of the SOA approach as a layer to simplify complexity – as above, consider the customer lookup process. What vital information needs to be presented to a consuming service? This layer does not stand apart from the organization’s larger enterprise; rather, it supports the business architecture. The underlying services orchestrate and communicate business processes-these components are part of the technical architecture. Internal developers, external consumers and others will require access to reuse SOA services.

6. Measure progress and communicate results. The successful implementation of any SOA must be driven from the top down. This means gaining early wins that engage senior management. Define three or four metrics and regularly communicate results.

7. Promote SOA as the Future. Implementation of a SOA blueprint may never fully end, because business processes change or new ones are required. Your target architecture inevitably will evolve to accommodate changes in the external environment and corresponding adjustments to organizational goals.