Friday, August 31, 2012

A Data Capture Systems Book Review

Yes, Dr. K. Bradley Paxton of ADI (for Advanced Document Imaging) has written a fairly comprehensive book on implementing and maintaining forms processing systems. Paxton spent 32 years at Kodak and is probably best known in our industry for his work encouraging the U.S. Census Bureau to adopt digital imaging technology. He has plenty of experience in our market and it is certainly leveraged in this comprehensive book.

 Here's my complete review of his book on the Amazon page. The title is Handprint Data Capture in Forms Processing: A Systems Approach, but it's really about automating any type of document capture, from OMR to OCR to handprint. Paxton offers plenty of sound advice on how to really make your system hum - and then how to make adjustments to help it keep humming going forward.

As I say in the review, some of the statistical formulas went right over my head, but there is plenty of valuable stuff in there. It's probably the most comprehensive, neutral (meaning non-vendor) piece I've ever read on implementing automated data capture for documents. Can't see how this could not provide an ROI for anyone doing any volume of capture.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why Sale is Good for Kodak DI

Over the past year, I have more than one conversation with people concerned that Kodak could potentially be using profits from its Document Imaging business to fund its money-losing print ventures. I'm not saying this was happening, as Kodak DI continues to invest in new technology and is even holding a fairly large industry event next month. But, there were clearly concerns that Kodak corporate's money losing ways could eventually drag down DI, which by all accounts was a profitable and growing business.

Here are some facts: In a "public lender presentation" put out by Kodak earlier this year, "document scanners" were listed as one of three core businesses (along with "retail systems solutions" and "digital plates") that generated $214 million in profits in 2011. Kodak also listed four growth businesses, consumer inkjet, digital printing solutions, workflow software and services, and packaging solutions, that combined to lose $415 million in 2011. There were also a number of "manage for cash/value" entities that pretty much broke even in 2011.

Basically, at that time that presentation was published, it appeared Kodak's strategy was to fund the "growth" entities with profits from the "core businesses." Of course, this is not really that attractive a proposition for a business unit like DI, which certainly considers itself a growth business as well. This is one reason why a sale is attractive to DI.

Here's a quote from Dolores Kruchten, who has spent many years in management at Kodak DI, which I thought was pretty telling. “From Kodak DI’s view, it’s business as usual, with the caveat that we are very excited about working with a potential buyer and really being in a position where DI is a core focus of whatever business it ends up being part of going forward.”

As for Kodak corporate, I really don't understand the production print market, so, I guess I really don't understand its strategy. I'll just leave it at that.

Of course, I probably should point out that the bankruptcy and accompanying re-org will likely enable DI to shed some of that onerous pension/retirement obligations that had been a drawback to potential acquirers in the past. This is good for the health of DI as well.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kodak DI For Sale

Not exactly sure of the strategy behind this, but here's my guess:
1. Document imaging is not printing, so it's not core to Kodak's future direction
2. Kodak is not getting as much money as it hope from the sale of the digital imaging patent portfolio, so they need to raise some additional money to pay off debts
3. Kodak Document Imaging (including the service business) is a healthy, profitable entity that Kodak can get $1 billion? for.

What do you think?

From a press release that was issued today, ".... [Kodak] has initiated sale processes for its market-leading Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses."

Also from the press release: “The initiation of a process to sell the Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses is an important step in our company’s reorganization to focus our business on the commercial markets and enable Kodak to accelerate its momentum toward emergence,” said Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and CEO.

"Kodak said it would move forward as quickly as possible and has targeted completing these transactions in the first half of 2013."

So, who are the potential buyers?

Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/08/23/4209859/kodak-takes-next-steps-toward.html#storylink=cpy

Study Exposes the Efficiency of Paper

Yes, I know that sounds counter-intuitive. After all, the tagline to my newsletter is "Business Trends on Converting Paper Processes to Electronic Ones." And, why would we want to go through all the trouble doing that if not to make the processes more efficient. Hold on a minute, and I'll explain.

Here's a quote from a recent IDC white paper commissioned by Ricoh, entitled, It’s Worse than You Think: Poor Document Processes Lead to Significant Business Risk.  Discussing the results of a survey on ineffective document processes, "The least effective processes are also the least paper based. This exposes the myth that simply driving paper out of processes necessarily makes them more efficient."

Basically, I think we all understand the second part - electronifying a bad processes doesn't necessarily improve it, it just codifies it. But, read that first sentence again. It indicates that the paper-based processes are actually more effective than the electronic ones. To me, this could be great marketing material for the document imaging industry. Logistically, it would follow maybe eliminating paper processes is not the most efficient route. Rather, improving them, through strategic capture might be.

Bottom line: In many cases paper processes are more efficient than electronic ones, so why try and replace them? Why not just improve them through document imaging? Does that make sense?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Forrester Capture Report

Has anyone seen this new Forrester Wave report on Multi-Channel Capture? Kofax, which is absolutely the leader, top and to the right with EMC Captiva slightly behind, is making the report available if you register. There is also an AIIM Webinar scheduled for next week.

Anyhow, the report has caused some controversy in the industry. Most obviously, there are only nine vendors ranked, when seriously I think there are about 100 competing in the document capture software space - not to mention the "multi-channel" capture market, which would seem to bring even more ISVs into the mix.

I'll start off by saying that I like the term "multi-channel capture" as a moniker that identifies where the industry is headed. Automating the capture of data from paper documents, while greatly increasing efficiencies, is not enough anymore as paper use declines and new forms of electronic input emerge. I also like Forrester's stressing the analytics is going to become an increasingly important part of this market going forward. I'm not sure they utilizing the same framing of "analytics" that I would, but I think their concepts in this area are strong at least.

On the flip side, ranking only eight vendors seems like a great disservice. I mean they left out clear market leaders like Nuance and ReadSoft, while ranking their competitors like NSi, IteSoft, Brainware, and TIS. Not sure of the rhyme or reason behind the vendor choices although Forrester attempts to link it to customer demand. Some speculation is that Forrester's background is in ECM and not data capture, so maybe their choices were influenced by that. Either way, I think the number of vendors included comes up way short.

I'll have some more details in an upcoming premium issue, but as a word of warning, here's what one ISV (whose company was ranked) said to me regarding the report: "Something like this is supposed to help clear up confusion in the market for end users. This report only adds to it."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dicom and KLake Partnership Paying Early Dividends

Sounds like Dicom's partnership with KnowledgeLake is off to a good start. Today, the European value-added document imaging distributor "reports a consistently growing demand for products and solutions from KnowledgeLake Inc." [Click for press release.] The companies have been working together for almost a year. It was at last year's Sept. DMS show that Dicom announced it would act as KnowledgeLake's distributor for the EMEA territory.

KnowledgeLake is an ISV that specializes in software for document imaging enabling SharePoint. It has grown its U.S. business primarily through direct sales and a handful of resellers. The EMEA business is being pushed primarily through Dicom's extensive reseller channel. KnowledgeLake had one of the first software products added to the Dicom porfolio in the wake of the distributor's splitting with Kofax.

According to today's press release, "Since September 2011, DICOM was successful in closing a whole series of KnowledgeLake partnership agreements with system integrators in Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Nigeria and South Africa and managed to win a significant number of projects throughout EMEA. In addition, DICOM also reports a strong pipeline for the month ahead."

According to Joachim Froning, CEO and co-owner of DICOM, "We have been able to draw to the attention of system integrators and VARs in the ECM- as well as the MS SharePoint and Dynamics space to KnowledgeLake. Amongst already signed partnership agreements are renowned integrators like SP Integration, COI, Data One, Sword, Informed Consulting, Innobit, Intervate, FOXit, iSPartners, Infographic and ProActive, just to name a few."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thoughts on Parascript/AIIM Forms Processing Study & White Paper

Lot of interesting information in a recent study conducted by AIIM and sponsored by Parascript.

Parascript develops a slew of recognition technology including handprint and cursive recognition. Not surprisingly, a follow-up article written by Parascript's Don Dew highlights some of the shortcomings in adoption of handprint/cursive recognition. According to Dew, "In most organizations, hand-written fields are prevalent on a significant number of forms. 42% of respondents indicated they have hand-written data fields on half or more of their forms. In addition to being prevalent, these hand-written forms are also important to the efficiency of the business process. 40% of respondents say they are quite important; 20% say they play a key role."

 "However, many organizations are not taking advantage of this information. 88% of respondents say they scan forms, but only 32% say they perform text recognition to automatically make that data readily available for use in their organizations. The majority of respondents (55%) report they scan images and manually re-key the data as part of their workflow."

 Of course, this is where Parascript's technology could come in, or, the crowdsourcing data-entry solutions from companies like virtualsolutions and Captricity, which were featured in our last premium issue. Some combination of the two may actually form the most efficient solution.

Another interesting point made in the study is that users cited a multitude of forms as the number one reason that they are not using forms processing technology - in other words, they feel the templates are too hard to set up. This should be interesting news to companies like ITyX, a German artificial intelligence vendor that DIR was recently introduced to.

Anyhow, there is a lot of interesting stuff in this white paper about forms processing adoption, what end users are implementing it for, and why they are not in certain areas.  The bottom line to me seems to be that parochial/departmental management of many forms capture operations prevents users from looking at the top tier capture automation solutions out there. They just don't have the bandwidth to consider the cutting edge technology that is most often included in enterprise capture applications. SaaS/Cloud services may prove to be the way around this.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

New Tweets: ReadSoft Hire, DocuWare Move

If you're not following us on Twitter @DIREditor, please do. As I wrote in a recent e-mailer, it's a great way for me to quickly and efficiently distribute links to relevant news stories, like these two the moved today: