Friday, March 29, 2013

Bish's Nasdaq plans for Kofax

An excerpt from a story on Kofax' Transform appearing in this week's premium edition of DIR:

Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish believes a listing on the Nasdaq could have positive affects. “It has taken us quite a bit of work to prepare the information required by the SEC to list on the Nasdaq,” Bish told DIR. “Now that that has all been completed, we want to move ahead with our listing. Previously, I said I’d like to get it done by June 30, but that will likely be delayed due to a poor second quarter (ended Dec. 31). I’m thinking we will still file in the current calendar year, but not until we’ve demonstrated that we’ve turned around our business and built some momentum.”

Bish’s plan is to list Kofax on the Nasdaq through the provisions of the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, which was passed last year. According to Bish, listing through JOBS is an easier process than following the traditional listing route, which requires compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley. “Our plan is to make available on the Nasdaq the minimum number of shares we are allowed,” said Bish. “The Nasdaq listing will enable all our shares to be traded on both exchanges [Kofax is currently traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE)], and eventually, we expect the majority of our trading will move over to the Nasdaq. This will be a positive because historically companies like ours are valued at a 30% premium on the Nasdaq compared to the LSE.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jazz Sound & Software Development

Came up with this one after a few nights out on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, while in town for the AIIM Conference, Canon ICS National Reseller Meeting, and Microsoft Dynamics Convergence.

Frenchmen Street was recommended to me by the drummer in the band playing at the Canon Conference. It's an area a few blocks outside of the French Quarter and features multiple bars with jazz and other types of musical acts performing nightly. But, I'll compare trying to find the right act to software development.

The first night on Frenchmen we got there kind of late and the first band we heard had solid sound - a couple of strong horn players, but only played two songs before they called it a night. We'll call that version 1.0. It proved the concept for us and made us want to go on to the next level.

Version 2.0 was better - a strong band in a bar a little up the street. We heard several great songs, but they were crossing over a little into rock'n roll, so it wasn't pure jazz. The next night, we hit three more places, the first one being too crowded and the second - definitely too loud and too much rock. Then finally, when we were about to give up on things, we made on last stop at Vaso's on Decatur and Frenchmen and found a great trumpet player leading a band with some true jazz sound. Version five was the killer app!

Version 6.0, the next night, started out a Vaso, but was a disappointment, but version 7.0 really  hit it out of the park.

The lesson here I think is that finding a good jazz bar is like software development often is - it often takes a few tries before an ISV comes up with a truly successful product - even if the concept is proven as solid in version 1.0. Multiple times I've seen software companies struggle out of the gate before finally figuring out exactly what they need to do to successfully market their product and accelerate their growth. I'm not sure what this really proves, but I think it says that patience and persistence are important qualities when developing software, as well as finding the right jazz sound.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Options for Mobile Scanning

For several years, I've been pretty adamant encouraging vendors to fill what I feel is a hole in the document scanner market. That is connecting mobile scanners to mobile phones. I mean they are both marketed as mobile devices, why can't one talk to the other in a truly mobile, i.e. wireless, fashion?

Last month, I ran this article on Canon's WU10 appliance, which can be used to power a Canon mobile scanner, and contains a wireless radio that can transmit scanned images directly to a smartphone. In the article, I mistakenly described some of Visioneer's technology which accomplishes the same thing. Visioneer's Xerox Mobile Scanner contains a custom built Eye-Fi card that enables it to capture multi-page PDFs and transmit them wirelessly to smartphone. I was only familiar with an older version of the Visioneer mobile scanner, and I apologize because apparently this new version has been on the market for more than a year.

Visioneer President and COO John Capurso pointed out my mistake. This let to a discussion on smartphones and their role in the capture and printing space, which was predicated by a previous blog post: Document Scanners, MFPs, and Mobile Phones. My premise in that post was the tablet computers and smartphones pose a bigger threat to the MFP market than they do to the document scanner market (you really have to read the post for that to make sense.)

John does not see smart phones as a threat to either set of devices. His position is that mobile devices are (going to be) the new PC. "Mobile devices are going to be the focal point of a lot of usage of MFPs and scanners," he said. "They are going to be the peripherals that we utilize with our mobile devices, just like they are the peripherals that we utilize with our PCs today."

Great point. Basically, here's the use case he defined. If I receive a document on my mobile device that I need to print, I wirelessly access my network through my smartphone/tablet and print it on the most convenient printer. Conversely, depending on what type of document I need to capture to my mobile device, or to the cloud by passing it through my mobile device, I connect wirelessly (presumably utilizing some sort of capture app) to a dedicated document scanner or MFP (or if it's a single page document just maybe use the camera on the mobile device), drop the paper in the feeder, and drive the scanning process through my app.

Does that all make sense? It's all about creating paper capture options for the end user, which are mobile, wireless, and hopefully easy to use. Then, of course, you need to combine those paper capture options with some other data capture options on the smartphone/tablet and you've got yourselves a business solution for the future!

Cheers. I look for many of you at AIIM 2013 Conference.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Look at Kofax's First Mile Marketing Strategy

Just got back in the office from another Kofax Transform event. Don't know many years I've been covering this event - at least since 2006. This year's event was in San Diego, and the weather was fairly awesome. The event itself was strong too, with close to 600 attendees from 25 countries.

One of the themes was Kofax's introduction of  a new marketing message that is being built around the idea of building out the First Mile (TM) of customer interaction:

That picture is Martyn Christian, CMO of Kofax, presenting on "Delivering on the First Mile." Basically, Kofax's message is around connecting "systems of engagement" with "systems of record," and it was a good thing that John Mancini, president of AIIM, and Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and other books, were around to help explain this marriage. Both Moore and Mancini have spoken and written on this topics for several years. But, from my standpoint at least, Kofax is the first vendor I've heard that has developed a coherent strategy for really connecting the two.

And this strategy is built around SPAs, or smart process applications. I'm not going to get into a huge explanation of what SPAs are right now, but Forrester's Craig LeClair does a pretty good job of it in this article that appeared in last week's premium DIR.

Basically, the First Mile message is that businesses need a set of technologies to connect their evolving set of customer interactions with their back-end line of business systems. In other words, customers are communicating with businesses in an increasing number of ways - paper, e-mail, social media, call centers, etc. And businesses are under increasing pressure (due to the potential speed and ease-of-use of properly executed digital transactions)  to process these communications in an efficient and customer friendly fashion. Capturing paper communications effectively is certainly one avenue to this, but so is capturing e-mail and mobile interactions - and not only capturing these communications, but enabling customers to input them in a way that is intuitive and user friendly. Kofax is attempting to deliver on this promise with a combination of multi-channel capture, BPM, and analytics technologies

All that was pretty cool, and there was a lot more that went on at Transform that I will be covering through various avenues (multi-channel communication?) over the next few weeks. Also, next week I'm headed to New Orleans for both the Canon's ICS Division (formerly IFS) national reseller meeting and the annual AIIM Conference, as well as a stop in at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence. Let me know if you are going to be in town and want to connect.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Document Scanners, MFPs, and Mobile Phones

Mobile capture is a hot topic. A couple years ago, Harvey Spencer Associates projected a 50% CAGR for the mobile capture software market through 2015 - at which time it would reach $1.5 billion. Last time, I talked with Harvey, he wasn't backing off that figure. Capture market leader Kofax, whose Transform conference I am currently attending in San Diego, has also been bullish on capture opportunities - and probably with good reason. If you remember, it was by far the hottest topic at last year's event. And I'm looking forward to the breakout session on "Creative Uses of Mobile Capture."

But this column is not being written to argue whether or not mobile capture will take off, let's just assume it does - even with some help from oddball products like the Scandock. The question is will it cut down on the sales of document scanners? I think the answer is no, as most people will consider any mobile capture being done as additive to the batch scanning that is done with document scanners. After all, not many people are going to do batch scanning with a smartphone, which is typically what you do with a document scanner. Of course, I guess mobile capture could potentially reduce the size of the batches that need to be scanned.

However, it's my opinion that MFPs are the hardware that is in real danger with the continuing penetration of smartphones and tablets. Tablets especially are great devices for viewing documents - meaning you don't have to print the docs - which directly impacts the MFP space (and potentially hurts the document scanning space as well but less directly- because there still has to be governance built around any business documents viewed with anything, which is why multi-channel capture becomes so important to ISVs and VARs going forward).

What prompted this post was a conversation I had last week with someone who was doing ad hoc scanning on their MFP and couldn't figure out why MFPs just weren't going to replace document scanners. I tried to explain that this was a conversation we'd been having for years...but he was not convinced. And that got me thinking about smartphones and why they wouldn't replace scanners either...but MFPs.

Let me just draw one picture for you. In today's computing market, people want to do more with less. You want 100 apps on your smartphone, not 100 computing devices. And for the past 10 years, document scanners have done nothing but pack more functionality into a smaller footprint. Document scanners are sleeker, simpler to use, and higher quality than they ever were before. Can the same really be said about MFPs? I don't know the MFP market as well, but I've certainly seen a few devices in recent years that looked a lot like Frankenstein's monster due to their having so many add-ons and moving parts and pieces.

The bottom line are living in an increasingly digital world, and document scanners have always been about promoting that digitization. In contrast MFPs are still pushing printing as the primary driver. And, although they do a great job at printing, it's a dying market. Lexmark has come to this realization and that is why it has invested so heavily in software - led by its investment in long-time imaging leader Perceptive Software.

No, MFPs will never replace dedicated document scanners - but smartphones/tablets could replace MFPs.

Monday, March 04, 2013

OCR/ICR Survey Highlights Infographic

We originally highlighted the results of this AIIM survey, (sponsored by Parascript) when it first came out last summer. (Download the entire report here).

Some interesting outtakes, some of which have been highlighted below in an outstanding infographic:
  • 55% of respondents who were scanning documents were key entering data
  • Only 32% were using OCR with ICR and cursive recognition utilization significantly lower
 Check out the rest of this info:

Friday, March 01, 2013

Kofax Acquires BI and Analytics ISV - Altosoft

It's a move Kofax has been talking about for about a year now - at least since last year's Transform Conference when CEO Reynolds Bish told DIR, "One technology we may be looking at is analytics that can be embedded in our solution.” This morning's announcement of the acquisition of Altosoft is the realization of that vision. Based in Media, PA (just west of Philadelphia), "Altosoft’s software provides rapid, no-coding development of near real time reporting and dashboard applications through the use of a data integration and analytics engine utilizing in-memory techniques."

Basically, here's how I see BI and analytics fitting within the Kofax capture and BPM platform (and some of this was laid out at Transform 2012. Kofax has a full suite of technology for capturing data from paper, electronic documents, e-mails, and mobile devices. With the acquisition of Singularity, it also has a BPM framework of building and executing processes related to captured information. The BI and analytics fit in between these two pieces and help the Kofax platform execute these processes more intelligently because users can now better make sense of the data being captured.

This all ties into Kofax's new focus on Smart Process Applications (SPAs), an emerging space defined recently  by Forrester. In a recent conversation with Craig LeClair of Forrester, he described SPAs as combining technologies like capture, analytics, and BPM to address specific pain points for business - rather than providing broad infrastructures like ECM and ERP systems. LeClair basically said the time for infrastructure systems has passed and businesses now care more about addressing specific applications with multiple technologies than about installing the technologies themselves.

LeClair gave me the example of a coffee shop improving its incident report process by replacing paper forms with e-forms on tablets, as well as utilizing the tablets picture taking capabilities. From a Kofax press release, "SPAs automate both structured and unstructured work activities in support of collaborative processes. SPAs contain all or most of the following core features: document and content capture for incoming documents, forms, and faxes relevant to the business activity; embedded analytical tools designed for the business activity; collaboration capabilities for people to create content needed for the activity; and BPM tools for executing the steps involved in the activity."

Forrester is projecting the SPA market to grow from $600 million in 2012 to $3.9 billion in 2016.

Kofax, which had $87 million in the bank as of Dec. 31, 2012, paid $13.5 million for Altosoft, with additional earnouts available in over the next three years. Altosoft's 2012 revenue was $3.4 million with an EBIDTA of $500,000.