Thursday, March 29, 2012

Docville Event set for May 9

Michael Ziegler's Docville group has scheduled another event for Wednesday, May 9 in Brussels. Docville is a networking organization made up primarily of European ISV, integrators, and VARs that focus on the document management space. This will be the group's third event, with the one held last fall drawing approximately 90 attendees.

The highlight of the event are focused roundtable discussions that are led by topical experts. This event's roundtable topics include:
  • From AP Invoice Processing to an Integrated P2P Approach - What are the Challenges & Opportunities?
  •  The value of Business Process Management – a must have or has the battle been lost?
  • From Scanning to Electronic Document Capture & Processing – Changing Platforms, Challenges & Solution Providers
    • Document Service BPOs – what are the global trends that promise profitable growth?
    • Is the Digital Mailroom having a renaissance?
    • SharePoint ECM: Leveraging Microsoft and Microsoft SharePoint Partners; Complementary or Competitive?
    • Changing Software Licensing & Delivery Models – Impact on Vendors and Customers
    • What can semantic technologies accomplish for document understanding & document management?
    • Document Service BPOs: Hybrid Records supporting business decisions and ensuring ROI is not killed by legacy – overcoming the challenge
    • What is Next for SharePoint ECM?
    • Process Automation in Human Resource Management – is the potential really there?
    • An International Government G-Cloud – What are the challenges and Opportunities for Suppliers?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

info360 Conference and Expo

Is anyone heading to this event? It's being held June 12-14 in New York City. This is the event that used to be AIIM On Demand, and which AIIM has dropped its sponsorship of in favor of its own conference held earlier this month in San Francisco. By all accounts the new AIIM event, while purposely limited in size, was successful.

Questex, a spin-off of Advanstar, which bought what is now the info360 event from AIIM about 10 years ago, has reduced the event from three to two days - which was probably a good move based on the historical third-day lack of traffic. Tuesday, June 12 will be a pre-conference day. Looking at this year's on-line floorplan, there are only about a dozen recognizable historical AIIM exhibitors. Of course, there are probably a few start-ups in there that I haven't heard of, but this show has traditionally had a couple hundred ECM exhibitors.

A press release on the conference tracks went out today.

And AIIM has also announced that its 2013 conference has been scheduled for March 20-22 in New Orleans, with details to come.

TIS Announces Mobile Capture Technology

Top Image Systems has filed for a patent surrounding what it calls "Intelligent Mobile Document Delivery Applications." TIS actually made this announcement a couple weeks ago, but I was holding off on writing mentioning anything, because I were expecting an interview with TIS this week, which has been delayed. So, just to get it on the record, I thought I'd do a blog post today, with the hopes of accumulating more information later.

TIS, which develops the eFlow document and data capture platform, has announced new remote deposit capture (RDC) technology. This technology is being leveraged in at least three products
1. MobiCheck: smartphone check deposit
2. MobiPay: for bill paying
3. MobiCloud: for capturing any document and then releasing it to downstream processes (sounds similar to Kofax's Mobile Capture)

The technology is likely going to be targeted at the financial services market, where TIS already has a strong international business.

From what I  heard on a recent TIS earnings call, the Tel Aviv-based ISV is planning on opening a U.S.-based office to promote its mobile technology. (Once again, hope to have more details soon.)

AnyDoc Customer Wins AIIM Best Practices
On the topic of data capture, congratulations to AnyDoc and customer Johnson Smith, which won a 2012 AIIM Carl E. Nelson Best Practices Award in the medium company category. The award was presented at the recent AIIM Conference in San Francisco. I had done a short feature on the implementation in a recent DIR premium issue. It utilizes handprint recognition and has achieved an impressive ROI for the mail order catalog company.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DIR Talk Browser Stats

We're really getting some good traffic on Document Imaging Talk, and I want to thank you all for that.

I was mining the stats a bit today and came up with this bit of info.

For the past month, here are the most popular interfaces being used to access this blog:
Firefox
 43%
Internet Explorer
 32%
Chrome
 15%
Safari
 4%

I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised that Firefox is ahead of IE. Is anyone else out there seeing similar data in regards to browser usage?

Lexmark Acquires Two More Software Companies

Just a short time after announcing it had acquired intelligent document recognition vendor Brainware, Lexmark announced two more software acquisitions that are being rolled into its Perceptive ECM business. The acquisitions are of Nolij, a U.S.-based document imaging and workflow specialist in the higher education market, and Australia-based ISYS, which specializes in enterprise search.

According to the press release, Nolij Transfer is "a Web-based data integration product that enables automated data matching and upload to student information systems...in enrollment services, university development and the business office." Perceptive, of course, is already one of the leaders in marketing ECM to the higher education market. According to Scott Coons, president and CEO of Perceptive and Lexmark VP, "Nolij brings advanced system integration, unique browser based scanning and forms processing capabilities to our education customers so they can better serve their students."


Regarding ISYS, the press release states, "ISYS enterprise search solutions deliver powerful federated search, text mining, and mobile and embedded search capabilities across a wide range of formats, languages and platforms...Its class-leading Document Filters technology is the core analytics engine at the heart of its suite. Document Filters enables users to parse, extract, analyze, load and display (in high definition) content contained in hundreds of different file types. Today, more than 16,000 enterprise organizations and many of the world’s leading IT vendors use ISYS software.

We hope to provide more details of how these products will be integrated into Perceptive's ECM suite and Lexmark's business in an upcoming premium issue.

NovoDynamics Release new IDR Product

NovoDynamics, the Ann Arbor, MI-based ISV best known in our industry for its Verus Middle Eastern language recognition technology had released a new document classification and extraction product. The new NovoDocufier utilizes NovoDynamics pattern recognition expertise to rapidly classify and group documents without having to perform full-text OCR. This technology the was foundation of Novo's previous generation Coronado classification engine.

With NovoDocufier, NovoDynamics has added the ability to apply OCR-based data capture to a process. There is an intuitive process for highlighting fields the first time through and thereafter they will be captured automatically. According to Novo VP of marketing Tim Dubes, the product is currently in beta at several service bureaus. "They like the fact that it can be set up very quickly to run diverse jobs," he told DIR.

Goerke Joins ABBYY
Speaking of intelligent document capture (IDR), Alexander Goerke, the former VP of Transformation Software (KTM) for Kofax, has joined ABBYY as VP of Semantic Technology Products. According to the press release, "In his new position at ABBYY, Alexander will be responsible for development and market introduction of a new generation of software products for document understanding and information retrieval based on ABBYY's innovative semantic technology."

Goerke was most recently working on an initiative called Skilja, which is focused on the "document understanding" market.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Zero Footprint and Mobile Scanning

The concept of capturing a document without having to utilize a traditional scan client is emerging as a hot topic in our market. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with former ImageSource CTO Shadwick White, who recently launched a start-up CloudPower that is focused on creating cloud-based ECM solutions utilizing next-generation tools. This includes leveraging technology from vendors like Box.net and Google to create innovative ECM solutions. Of course true to his roots, White is also working on some proprietary zero-footprint scanning technology that he plans to debut shortly.

Zero footprint scanning was also a topic at the recent Kofax Transform conference, as Kofax was promoting the newest version of the DotImage SDK that is acquired with Atalasoft last year. Atalasoft has always promoted zero-footprint document viewing, but  historically, its scanning has been done with an ActiveX TWAIN driver. Atalasoft is apparently working on some Java-based scanning technology that will enable it to do "minimal footprint" scanning at least.

Remember Kofax's Document Scan Server? That was actually some pioneering technology in the area of zero-footprint scanning, as it leveraged Web-services calls to move images from a utility attached to a scanner to server-based apps. Kofax actually showed it way back at AIIM 2006. When I caught up with CTO Anthony Macciola at Transform, he indicated that the DSS initiative is still alive but that it originally failed due to technology costs at the time.

"Atalasoft has a mandate to try and achieve zero footprint scanning," Macciola told me. "In fact, the next release of its SDK will have a browser plug-in that will interrogate the system and user has, and if they have the right components, such as Silverlight running on Windows 7, they might not need to use a driver to scan. As the Windows OS matures, it's possible zero footprint scanning could be even more common."

And, of course, EMC Pixel has released its Captiva Cloud Toolkit, which is designed to enable ISVs with cloud applications to capture without traditional drivers. Instead of a traditional ISIS driver, there is a Web services-oriented piece loaded onto the PC connected to a scanner. The cloud-based piece of the SDK can make calls this PC-based software to drive a scanner. When we spoke with EMC's Sean Baird late last year, he indicated that several hardware vendors and some ISVs as well were working with this SDK.

So, there's quite a bit being done to move scanner drivers into the 21st century it appears, not to mention all the mobile capture stuff where drivers are actually replaced by apps.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Potential of Mobile Capture

It's certainly worth noting the capture from mobile devices was probably the most popular topic at the recent Kofax Transform conference. And it wasn't vendor-generated hype that was driving this. No, the end users and resellers at the event couldn't get enough. I attended a presentation by Bruce Orcutt, a product marketing manager for Kofax, and there were way more people than there were seats. Orcutt had recommended I attend the session just so I could see the interest. "I've done [something like 14] product launches since I've been at Kofax and I've never seen anything like this.

There are still some in the industry that have their doubts about the number of real world applications that full-page mobile document capture can fulfill. Aside from weigh bills, we've heard stuff like insurance claims processing, service technicians, and some others. Earlier today we were talking with capture industry veteran Tim Dubes about the new software developments coming out of NovoDynamics where he now works and I mentioned this incredible interest in mobile capture at the Kofax conference.

Dubes was a bit skeptical, citing Cardiff's launch of its Cross Pen Form software some 13 years ago. "Everyone was like, not everybody has a scanner, but pens, they're everywhere, and was all excited about it." Sound familiar? So I went back and looked up my 1999 article on the Cardiff/Cross product.

From the article: "The Cross module, the TELEform Digital Ink Module, is targeted at applications such as insurance claims adjustment, automotive repair, hospital work, and quality control in manufacturing. It’s designed for applications where users need to be mobile, but do not want the inconvenience of working with a
laptop computer." Sounds somewhat familiar.

More: "the main beneficiaries of the Digital Ink Module technology would be users with several remote sites. “This might include an insurance company with several adjusters in remote offices. Instead of having to send their adjustment forms to the main office via courier, using the Digital Ink Module, the forms could be sent electronically."

Anyhow, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, because with the Cardiff stuff, you still needed a $400 electronic tablet to right on to make this work vs. a free or inexpensive app on your phone. Wi-fi and satellite networks for transmitting remote data were also unheard of at the time, but the use cases are eerily familiar and, according to Dubes, so was initial user interest, before it faded.

I guess we'll see.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Live from Kofax Transform

So, this is at least the fifth or sixth Kofax Transform I have attended. I must admit I was a little apprehensive coming out here (to San Diego) due to some of the recent financial reports coming out of Kofax, where growth has definitely slowed in the past year. But, Kofax is hardly a company in despair over flat revenue. In fact, the company has a very bullish outlook on the future and seems to have a lot of pieces in place to drive future growth to at least $550 million over the next three-four years, which was the goal that CEO Reynolds Bish stated today in an interview with DIR.

We'll have all the details of this discussion in our upcoming premium edition, but the gist of things is:
1. Last year at Transform Kofax announced it had sold its hardware distribution business (sale completed in May), which as stated at the time, completed the transformation of the company into an enterprise software player.
2. Since then, Kofax has bought BPM ISV Singularity, doubling its addressable market size.
3. Kofax is aggressively marketing the Singularity technology through its existing sales channels
4. Kofax has some very extensive mobile capture technology on the way
5. European market has been tough for Kofax, but has stabilized and Kofax has right-sized its staff in EMEA. (Bish explained that, unlike many other ISVs, Kofax actually had viable revenue coming from the southern European markets most affected by recent European economic troubles)
6. Kofax R&D investment is larger than the annual revenue of many of its competitors.
7. More acquisitions on way.

If you put all this stuff together, it certainly makes for some interesting conversations and gives you an idea of
where Kofax is expecting its growth to come from.

Friday, March 09, 2012

A look at Lexmark's Acquisiton of Brainware

Sorry it took me so long to get around to this, but I've been catching up on a few things. Chances are by now you've seen that Lexmark paid $148 million to acquire Brainware. My first reaction was "Wow. That seems like a lot of money." But, then I started doing some research and apparently, Harvey Spencer Associates has Brainware ranked ahead of Top Image Systems in worldwide market share, and, as we recently reported, TIS recently reported annual revenue of close to $30 million.

 So, Lexmark apparently paid less than five times revenue- which is still a pretty good premium. Lexmark hinted that more financial details about Brainware may be available during its first quarter earnings call in April.

For those of you who don't know Brainware, it is an intelligent data capture (IDC) ISV. From what I understand, most of the heavy lifting on the development side is done in Europe, with the sales and marketing headquartered in Ashburn, VA. Brainware has enjoyed meteoric success in the invoice capture market in the past 5-6 years.

Formed out of the ashes of the flameout of German ECM ISV SER, Brainware's management team spun the company out of a call center software business and aggressively grew sales by focusing on ROI related to invoice capture. Unlike some of its competitors, Brainware has historically de-emphasized the workflow piece of the invoice processing equation and really focused on what it terms as "straight-through processing." This involves automatically extracting enough information off of invoices so that they can be matched with P.O. and shipping data and automatically posted to an accounting/ERP system without anyone having to approve them.

Brainware has also done some high-volume forms and remittance processing implementations, but to date invoices has been its real sweet spot. It sounds like Brainware will be working closely with the Perceptive development staff on additional data capture applications in markets like higher education and healthcare where Perceptive has a strong presence.

Perceptive is the document management ISV that Lexmark bought in 2010. Lexmark paid more than 3 times revenue for Perceptive, which is in a market where companies have historically had a lower valuation than the IDC market where Brainware plays. So, Lexmark has a history of paying a good premium for software vendors.  And, if you remember, HP paid like more than 10 times revenue for Autonomy last year. That fact is hardware vendors typically have to pay a decent price to get a decent software vendor.

Part of this is because I think the general consensus is that hardware companies don't know how to run software businesses. And this was certainly a widespread concern when Lexmark bought Perceptive. But, you know what, I think because Lexmark has done such a good job allowing Perceptive to remain autonomous, there were really no similar questions that came up this time around. In the meantime, last year Lexmark acquired a BPM software provider, Pallas Athena, to compliment Percpetive and recently reported 30% organic growth for the Perceptive business.

There's a ton more I can write on this, which will show up in my next premium issue. But, for now, it appears full speed ahead for Brainware as part of Perceptive, taking advantage of the Lexmark resources. And Lexmark now has pretty much a full capture, workflow, document management suite, putting it on the cutting edge in the world of MFP vendors.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Top Image Completes strong year

Document capture software specialist Top Image Systems recently announced another strong quarter and a strong conclusion to its 2011 year. The Tel Aviv-based ISV, which sells primarily in Europe, reported 25% revenue growth for the quarter and 32% for the year. This brought its annual revenue to $28.7 million. TIS also reported a non-GAAP net income for the year of $3.4 million, which represented an 82% growth from the previous year. The company now has more than $2 million in the bank and has eliminated its debt.

TIS focuses on the banking, digital mailroom, accounts payable and census markets. TIS reported strong business in Europe, the UK, Latin America and Asia-Pac. It is also planning to open a U.S. sales office to market its mobile technology.

In the earnings press release, CEO Ido Schechter stated,  "Looking ahead to 2012, we will continue to execute our long-term growth strategy by focusing on our Digital Mailroom and Banking Platform solutions as well as on our strong global partnerships. For 2012, TISA expects growth of between 17% and 23%, revenues of between $33.5 million and $35.3 million, and Non-GAAP operating income in the range of $4.3 to $4.6 million."

Capture + MPS on the Horizon

There is certainly a lot of interest in introducing document capture and management applications into managed print services contracts. One of the most active discussions I've ever seen on LinkedIn, for example, has focused on the question of will "the next big move for MPS providers will be document capture / workflow?". The discussion takes place within "The Document Imaging Group"  and has more than 60 comments since being started a year-and-a-half ago - the last one coming just a couple days ago.

So, scanning is definitely a hot topic among those in the MPS market, but how much of it is really being sold with MPS implementations today? DIR recently sat in on a briefing about a number of MPS infrastructure players getting together to deliver a solution providing end-user information to resellers to help them improve their MPS deployments. Unfortunately, from our standpoint, the whole discussion focused on print.

We followed up with a question to Doug Johnson, senior VP of MPS for Supplies Network, a St. Louis-based organization which services some 6,000 North American resellers, providing them with products like toner, paper, IT supplies, and data storage media. Supplies Network also has a hosted MPS offering, which was discussed in the briefing. We were introduced to them through DocSolid, which offers an MFP capture platform designed for cloud environments.

Johnson told us, "To date, scanning (and particularly solutions around the scan function--content repurposing, further document workflow, storage, archival, retrieval, etc.) has largely been ignored in the MPS engagements between resellers and end users. We believe it is due to a lack of solutions that are integrated across the scanning value chain. An efforts like the one we recently discussed [on printing], eliminating white space across scanning solutions to create a seamless end-to-end solution, is needed."
 
So, while there clearly is plenty of interest in scanning in the MPS world, it seems the logistical pieces have not been put in place to really unleash it. This is not surprising, considering that printing is still the lead dog for MFP vendors and dealers, and they are still figuring out how to properly deploy it in MPS environments.

We also did a teleconference last week about a re-org at Xerox that discussed MPS, but was almost entirely focused on printing.  Here's two interesting quotes that came out of that teleconference, which may explain some of the interest in printing: "Retail printing is $700 billion market," and "direct mail is growing exponentially." (The figure I found showed that the market for direct mail is actually predicted to shrink slightly over the next five years, but it's still worth well over $10 billion annually, so I guess when you compare it to the document capture software market size of under $3 billion [per Harvey Spencer Associates], you can see why the MPS focus remains on print.)

But - remember, the document capture market is growing in double-digits and someday will catch a declining printing market (if indeed it is declining), which explains all the interest in document scanning amongst, apparently forward-thinking people in the MPS market.