Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kofax hires U.S. Sales Chief

Kofax has hired former FileNet sales exec Steve Johnson as its Senior VP of software & solutions Sales for the Americas. Johnson will report to EVP of field operations Alan Kerr. He will oversee Kofax's implementation of its new hybrid model for its $50 million U.S. software business.

By our calculations, Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish now has also the pieces in place to attack the market in the way he outlined to us at last year's AIIM show. His intention is for Kofax's historically strong VAR channel to continue to win the small and mid-sized deals, with the direct sales force to take the high-end stuff that has historically gone to Kofax competitors like Bish's former company Captiva, as well as players like ReadSoft and recently Brainware. The trick, of course, is going to be keeping the VAR channel happy and not stepping on their toes too much with the direct sales. We still haven't heard too much negative feedback from the U.S. VARs at least, of course, without Johnson, maybe the direct sales force hasn't been fully ramped up yet.

Anyhow, Johnson seems well qualified to sell capture solutions. If he can manage a VAR channel well, we'll expect some strong results from Kofax.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

High-Profile AIIM Absentees

For the first time in our memory, heavy document imaging hitters Kodak and Kofax will not be exhibiting at our industry's largest annual get together. Citing reasons like "the most expensive leads you get come at AIIM," and "we've been thinking about pulling out for several years and the down economy gave us the impetus to finally go through with it," the industry's leading production scanner vendor and the leading capture software player have pulled out of the AIIM Expo (scheduled for end of March-early April). Neither one has even committed to having a meeting room.

I must admit , I have been hearing complaints for several years, with last year's being the most serious, about the lack of quality floor traffic at the event. I also received feedback that exhibitors have been making suggestions that have gone largely ignored by Questex, which purchased the show from AIIM (the trade organization) eight or nine years ago. And, although Questex has been offering increased targeted marketing services to exhibitors, by our observation, the event itself has changed little since started going to it in the late 1990s - and some pundits were already proclaiming that the event was dead then.

Across the board marketing cuts due the down economy may be the last nail in the coffin. Prior to this year, despite the complaints, and slowly dwindling attendance, little actually changed, except for maybe smaller booth sizes. Sure, some companies would leave for a year, but they'd always come back. We'll see of they come back after this year.

I've got a call with Questex set up for Thursday. We'll see what they have to say...

Ralph

Monday, February 09, 2009

Kofax first-half 2009 results

Seems like a mixed bag. I'll have to read them over in more detail later (as I'm getting ready to head out to a Kodak conference in San Antonio), but it appears that much of the 9% growth was driven by favorable currency exchange - meaning the pound (which Kofax reports in, lost some of its value against the currencies (Euro and U.S. Dollar), which it typically does business in. That said, it's a pretty detailed report, so they don't appear to be trying to fool anyone. Basically, it sounds like the U.S. (after a slow start) and EMEA businesses (with the exception of the U.K.) are on track and Asia-Pac continues to disappoint. There were also some problems in the VRS sector. The hardware business continues to be profitable if not growing... Not sure how much is now going direct vs. what is going through the channel.

Anyhow, hopefully I will have more on this later, when I have some conversations and time to read it over more closely. Check out the above link yourself though it you get a chance.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

More on Kodak

I should have known better than to fly U.S. Air. Last time I flew with them, I ended up stuck in some two-star hotel near the Birmingham, AL airport overnight because of mechanical difficulties. Then, just last month, they narrowly avoided a disaster near New York. Now, of course, I'm stuck in Brussels, well not really in Brussels, but in an airport hotel outside of town for an extra night due to, you guessed it, "mechanical difficulty." But enough on airlines...

I'm out here because I attended the annual I.R.I.S. conference, which went well with a few hundred attendees and some significant announcements. Details in this week's DIR. The most imortpant announcement was probably that I.R.I.S. continued its profitable growth, up 13% over $100 million Euros for the first time and also generating cash. They run a pretty good business, with a lot of high-end document imaging focsued solutions installed Belgium, France, and Luxenburg, and some pretty good OCR contracts with the likes of HP, eCopy, and Adobe. Recently, they've been adding IDR technology to their mix and last year launchced their own capture software after working for several years as Kodak's OEM developer of capture technology.

Speaking of Kodak, here's an interesting quote from the press release they issued today:

"The success of Kodak’s core investments stems in part from the company’s ability to maximize its cash-generating businesses. These market-leading product lines represented approximately $6 billion in revenue in 2008, and include the following: Prepress Solutions and Document Imaging in GCG, Digital Capture & Devices and Retail Systems Solutions in CDG, and Entertainment Imaging from the Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group (FPEG). For these businesses in 2009, Kodak will focus on margin improvements, including cost reductions, as well as continuing its successful intellectual property licensing program."

So, it's good that Document Imaging is generating cash, but it's bad that apparently cost reductions are going to be made to apparently help make up for losses in other areas. Curiously, the press release didn't get into too many specifics about the money losing areas, of course that was probably done in depth enough with the fourth-quarter report.