Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2010 Census Forms on Track to be Saved as Digital Images

If you remember, after the 2000 U.S. Census, in which digital imaging was used for the first time to capture data from the forms, the forms were all transferred to microfilm before being submitted to NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) for long-term storage. This was after the Census Bureau had originally thought the digital images would be good enough for archiving. But, apparently, there was some disagreement over who would be in charge of ensuring that electronic images remained current, so a "human-readable" format - microfilm, was chosen.

Shortly thereafter, the PDF/A - A for "archiving" initiative was undertaken. We're not saying that NARA and the Census Bureau have agreed that PDF/A will be the long-term electronic format, but it's at least now an option - and over the past 10 years, people have certainly increased their focus on perserving electronic documents for lengthy periods of time.

Regarding the 2010 Census forms, which were once again captured digitally for data processing, early signs are that they will be archived as electronic images. From the timeline I've seen, most of the data extraction should be done by now and the information should be being prepared for submission to the President's office.

Here's an e-mail we recently received from the U.S. Census Bureau, ""The DRIS program considers all images used in the Census to be permanent records and has and will maintain them with links to the data throughout the life of the program. The referenced "blog" on the NARA website is a very accurate description of the activities being worked between Census and NARA to prepare the formal records schedule."

The "referenced blog" attempts to dispel some rumors that no images of the forms are going to be saved - only the data.


Monday, September 20, 2010

NYC OMR Voting Implementation Proves Disastrous

Long-time readers of DIR  know that I've been a proponent of OMR-based voting ever since the 2000 presidential election controversy involving punchcards, hanging chads, and a future Nobel Prize winner. Knowing the great forms processing technology that was out there, I was somewhat shocked to realize that this old-style data capture method was still in use.

Of course, the 2000 election was followed by a wave of transition to touchscreen voting machines, which have their own issues associated with them. Can you say "black box voting?"

Gradually, after many conversations on this topic, I came to believe that some sort of image-based OMR scanner would be the best solution. You'd get a system that was mark-based, for simplicity, and you'd have an image of the ballot for archiving purposes. Well, for this month's primary, it seems the New York City area went with some sort of analog OMR-system, with disastrous results.

The primaries took place the week of Harvey Spencer Associates recent document capture conference and Spener was scathing in his commentary about the implementation. He said something to the effect that this is a black-eye for the industry caused by much less than state-of-the-art technology being used.

The vendor for the system was Election Systems and Software (ES&S) - clearly not one of the leaders in the document imaging market. At Harvey's event, we did catch up with Todd Radtke of Scantron, which is the leader in OMR-based test scanning in North America. He confirmed something we'd heard before-that the barrier to entry of having a system approved for use in federal elections is so high - like over $1 million per system to apply for the testing, that Scantron has chosen not to participate in the election market.

Oh yeah, apparently the awarding of the NYC contract to ES&S is under investigation.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TIS Wins $2 Million Invoice Processing Deal

In a good sign that big invoice processing deals are still out there, Top Image Systems just announced it had completed installation of a 1.5 million Euro (almost $2 million) deal with an Italian power company. The customer is running an SAP ERP system. Because there has been so much focus on the capture of invoices in SAP environments over the past few years, especially by vendors like ReadSoft and Open Text, we often wonder how many big deals of this nature are left, and the answer we typically get is that the market is only 25% penetrated at most.

Historically, TIS has been strongest in Europe, but espeically Germany, so it's a good sign for them to win such a big deal in a market other than Germany. And apparently, there are still big invoice processsing deals out there to be won.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PBMS Signs Deal with IMERGE

Pitney Bowes Management Services, whose new president was featured in the last issue of DIR,  recently signed a reseller agreement with long-time imaging consulitng firm IMERGE. IMERGE will support PBMS customers with records management iniatives, expescially in the life sciences and healthcare markets. PBMS focuses mainly on outsourcing the mailroom services at Global 2000 organizations. Records management, including digital mailroom services, are a growing part of its business, which also includes print and physical mailing services.

PBMS has several hundred customers worldwide. In a press release, Betty McAlvany, director, Product Management, for PBMS stated, “Our customers face increasing pressures in the healthcare space to meet deadlines for selection and implementation of Electronic Medical Records systems, cost-cutting and efficiency, all of which have a significant impact on their records management strategies. Through our relationship with IMERGE, we will continue to offer our clients the full breadth of records management operational expertise they have come to expect and trust from PBMS, along with premier consultative services, helping ensure that all aspects of their records and information management initiatives are addressed.”

Thursday, September 09, 2010

SaaS ECM Continues to Gain Momentum

In preparation for my presenation at Harvey Spencer's upcoming annual Capture Conference, I was going over my 2009 predictions, one of which was "SaaS ECM continues to outpace traditional software market." Each year at the Capture Conference I grade my predictions from the previous year before announcing my latest predictions. Well, a week ago, I had a feeling that this particular prediction was correct. Now I am certain.

That certainty is based on a couple things. First off, I got an e-mail from Digitech Systems, touting how one of its VARs, Polar Imaging in Ontario, had leveraged its ImageSilo SaaS application to grow close to 50% in 2008, and continue to grow in 2009. Then I got this release from Hyland Software touting its opening of an Australian data center, on the heels of its success with a U.K.-based data center, to accomdate its growing SaaS business.

Steve Todd, CEO of Polar, indicated that SaaS is much more widely accepted than it was even 18 months ago-- and now customers that formerly insisted on receiving scanned images on CDs, have done an about face and only want to talk about SaaS. Both Todd and Ron McClellan of Hyland (who is quoted in the press release) stress the flexibility that SaaS offers. "“Organizations in the market for on-premise ECM are often choosing to work with us specifically because we also offer a SaaS product,” said McClellan. “This is because the right deployment method today may not be right tomorrow."

Todd added that SaaS is a great way to demo imaging technology and that once customers see their documents on-line, they will often be convinced to go live with a SaaS imaging implementation.

One interesting sidenote, that is also likely related to Hyland's decision to build data centers in other countries, is that Todd said Polar ran into some Patriot Act issues when it first tried to leverage Digitech's U.S.-based data centers. But, apparently that has been taken care of, as almost's all Polar's customers are in Canada.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Kofax Lands $2.35 million deal in Czech Republic

Speaking of the education market, Kofax landed another large deal recently, this one with an educational agency in the Czech Republic. AutoCont, a long-time Kofax VAR, won the deal which is Inworth $2.35 million to Kofax. This includes, Kofax Capture, Kofax Transformation Modules and scanners, as well as professional services. 

The implementation will be used to "capture information from more than eight million pages of examination papers received annually from more than 1,500 high schools." Seems like the education market is adopting more imaging worldwide.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hyland Acquires Hershey

Hyland has acquired Los Angeles area-based ISV Hershey Systems. Hershey has a Web-based ECM platform that has recently been targeted primarily at the higher education market, where it boasts some 200 installations. Hyland already has a fairly strong higher education practice, which was boosted by a 2006 acquisition of one of its reseller partners Matrix Imaging.

The education market seems to be a growing vertical, as we recently completed a briefing with MFP capture ISV Notable Solutions, Inc., who also told us that education was one of its major focuses.