Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Obamacare - My Experience and why SPA could have saved it!

Okay, so first off, hope everyone here stateside has/had/is having a great T-Giving holiday.

So, far my Holiday shopping has been focused on getting some new health insurance  - taking advantage of the Obamacare plan, which is technically named the Affordable Healthcare Act, or something to that effect. Full disclosure  - I am a Democrat (having switched parties when George W. Bush was first nominated as the Republican presidential candidate) and have voted twice for Mr. Obama as president. I also have a pre-existing medical condition that historically had made it impossible for me to switch insurance and shop for a better policy. As I own my own business and am self-insured, I really have had no leverage and my insurers keep raising my rates and there has been nothing I could do about it. So, I was looking forward to being able to do some comparative shopping through Obamacare.

Yes, I had heard all the nightmare stories about how hard it was to actually get the Affordable Healthcare Act Web site to work properly when signing up. But, I figured some of this had to be exaggerated, right? Media hype. I'm mean I'm fairly technologically savvy and the U.S. federal government invested at least $100 million in the Web site, so it couldn't be that bad, could it? I mean Web sites are somewhat mature technology.

Well, it turns out everything is as bad as advertised. Here's a list of the problems I've encountered so far:
1. Online form was not very intuitive: For example, whenever you change something, it takes you back to that part of the form and doesn't make it clear how you are supposed to skip refilling in the same information in the sections that follow the area that you've changed.
2. I am currently attempting to log-in the Web site right now and can't get in.
3. It took me literally two hours to fill out the unintuitive e-form
4. Received feedback that I would get a tax credit for my wife and I and that the state would have to check on eligibility for kids enrollment in a state-sponsored insurance program.
5. I then realized I needed to change some (I thought fairly minor) info about my current healthcare coverage.
6. Went back online but couldn't get back into my application form to make the change.
7. Went through chat service and phone call to try and make corrections- and while my questions were answered promptly, nothing was accomplished. I was told I'd have to wait for a call back within 2-6 business days before I could make any changes.
8. In the meantime, my application seems to be stuck somewhere in limbo, although it's not really clear where that is.
9. Waited three weeks and never got a call.
10. Got a bill from my current insurer which for reasons (perhaps related to Obamacare?) has increased its premiums 12% across the board.
11. Called the Affordable Healthcare Act customer support number this morning and the rep said they had no record my previous call and that, someone would call me in another 2-5 business days. If I miss that call, I am instructed to call back on the same number I called this morning and only then can they connect me to who I need to talk to.
12. Took me six tries to log onto the Obamacare Web site to double-check the status of my application, which appears to be in the same state I left it before, although for some reason (presumably because someone has to make changes to it, it is listed as "inactive," although it's not exactly clear what that means.
13. Now I guess I wait until next Thursday to hear from someone before calling back. And my deadline for applying for coverage effective Jan. 1 has been extended to Dec. 23. 

It has been my contention since I began this process of applying for healthcare coverage through Obamacare, that the on-ramp is clearly something that could have been better addressed by what Forrester, Kofax and others are calling Smart Process Applications (SPAs). From a Kofax press release on Forrester's definition of SPAs: "SPAs is a new category of application software designed to support industry specific business activities that are people intensive, highly variable, loosely structured, and subject to frequent change. SPAs automate both structured and unstructured work activities in support of collaborative processes."

SPAs combine technology like capture, BPM, collaboration, and analytics to help connect customer-facing systems of engagement - which is what the Obamacare Web site is supposed to be - with systems of record, which is presumably what sits on the back end of the Obamacare Web site and is supposed to come up with a selection of insurance plans I can choose from. There is obviously a breakdown in the current system for making this connection as I've been trying to get some quotes from several weeks now!

As I've said before, I think this whole Obamacare mess demonstrates the market potential for SPAs. Sure, some e-commerce sites, like Amazon, are great, but they have spend billions of dollars and multiple years ramping up to their current level of mostly automated customer service. For almost everyone else, most back end systems are based on some type of tradtional paper process and just gluing a Web site to the front end is not going to work. This is where SPA fits in. It can act as the glue between old processes and new e-commerce driven ones. And document imaging ISVs and SIs are the perfect people to sell and install SPAs because their businesses are rooted in taking traditional processes and making them more electronic through applications like capture and workflow.  Basically, they understand technology and they also understand processes - two key ingredients to making e-commerce systems work successfully in a real world full of legacy systems and old habits.

In conclusion, I hope I get this healthcare thing resolved and I hope all you capture, document imaging and SPA vendors and SIs can leverage the so-far disastrous results of the Obamacare service to convince organizations transitioning to more e-commerce that they really need your help. After all, they certainly don't want to make the same mistakes and be compared to Obamacare when trying to conduct business.

Best T-Giving wishes,

Ralph

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kofax Extends What's Covered in Mobile Capture Patent

Key quote from the press release: "the technology embodied in this patent allows us to expand our mobile capture capabilities to include using a postal database to correct addresses captured from driver licenses and using a biller database to correct data captured from consumer bills.”

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Make Sure You Read the End of This - ARMA Notes & More

ARMA - the Records Management Association  - held its 58th annual conference and exhibition last week in Las Vegas. I didn't attend, but wanted to share with you a couple insights from people who where there:

1. ARMA produced this podcast, which is an interview with IBML EVP, Worldwide Sales and Business Development Robert Sbrissa. Sbrissa has been in our industry for a few years and has a good perspective on how things have evolved. Here's a quote by him from that podcast that I really liked:


"We are seeing this year customer looking for not only what’s new but what’s simplified and improved – as our technology is evolving and becoming more efficient and easier to deploy. Customers  now realize that the technology exists. The question is how to choose technology that is simpler, easier to implement and easier to maintain."

2. Also, Art Nichols, VP of sales at recognition ISV NovoDynamics shared this insight with us: "Document classification to the ARMA folks is as likely to mean dealing with existing text files (word, excel, email) as it is they way we use it in forms /image capture."

I thought this was interesting because it jives with the content/first tack that  that Content Analyst, an ISV with a specialty in semantic understanding, seems to be taking as it attempts to expand its market from the e-discovery space, where it has had its initial success. And that seems to be part of the issue with semantic understanding in general as we attempt to apply it to the ECM market - where does it fit best? In a capture or an RM process, i.e. in the front-or-the back-end of the application? Of course, this is kind of the same issue that Kofax is broaching as it introduces BPM into it capture/SPA frameworks. It's all a bit muddled, but will likely make sense in the end when capture is finally subsumed by ECM - or vice-versa, and it all ends up as some sort of real-time, on-demand indexing/retrieval workflow paradigm that gets the right info to the right person at the optimal time - isn't that all we're after anyhow.

Kofax: A Go-To Partner for MS in SPA

A couple weeks ago, Kofax announced it would make an insurance claims processing solution available for demonstration as part of an engagement at Microsoft Technology Centers (KTC) worldwide. Here's our blog post discussing that announcement. It mainly focuses on Kofax's moving its technology to a cloud environment.

We were also wondering how significant this was regarding Kofax's relationship with Microsoft. Here's the reply we received from Dermot McCauley, VP, solutions product marketing, for Kofax: "The Kofax Agile Claims demonstration supports the Microsoft partnership by providing innovative technologies that allow us to offer a more complete customer solution and meet their customer’s exact needs. These resources shorten the time required to develop a customer demonstration by removing traditional barriers and reduces the total cost of solution acquisition while providing compelling customer value. Drawing on the integrated innovation of Kofax Total Agility, the Microsoft Technology Center can be a powerful resource for customer organizations.  

"Additionally, the KTA offering potentially influences Microsoft licensing including Azure, Dynamics, SQL Server, SharePoint, O365, Exchange, Lync, and Bing. As we continue to roll-out this demonstration globally, Microsoft team members in the field will look to Kofax as a leading provider of smart process applications for the business critical First Mile of customer interactions."

It seems as if he is trying to position Kofax as a go-to partner for MS in the SP space. That's not a bad thing.

Partnerships Take Technology into new Geographies

This week both NovoDynamics and KnowledgeLake announced interesting partnerships that will help them expand into new geographical markets. In conjunction with the recent GITEX show, held in Dubai, Novo, a recognition technology specialist, announced that ForeFront Technologies, a VAD that focuses on the Middle East and Africa, will be carrying its OCR software. KnowledgeLake, which develops software for document image-enabling Microsoft SharePoint, announced that PFU will be introducing its technology into PFU's ECM practice in Japan.

Novo, which first came onto our radar screen because of its Arabic OCR technology (it currently supports Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and English languages as well), exhibited at GITEX. "This show covers all areas of IT and expects over 140,000 visitors before the week is over," reported Art Nichols, Novo's VP of Global Sales, who attended the event. "Forefront is a large Fujitsu and Kodak distributor that also sells Kofax and now NovoDynamics NovoVerus."

Georges Mehchi, CFO and Managing Partner for ForeFront sounded pretty excited about the partnership. As quoted in a press release,  “The intelligence that NovoDynamics has built into NovoVerus’ software truly raises the bar for language detection, recognition and data extraction, taking Arabic and multilingual OCR to an unparalleled level! Introducing this technology into Middle Eastern and African markets will be life changing, not only for Arab nations, but globally.”
 The KnowledgeLake-PFU partnership was a natural, seeing how the ISV is now a wholly owned subsidiary of PFU. Said Ron Cameron, president of KnowledgeLake in a press release, "“This natural progression of our partnership with PFU will extend their already successful ECM practice to include SharePoint ECM. As SharePoint continues to gain momentum in the Japanese marketplace, we hope this partnership promotes the profile and perception of Microsoft’s platform by providing value around its robust ECM capabilities. We are grateful for this opportunity and I couldn’t think of a more suiting partner in this effort than our parent company, PFU."

I don't think there is any question that we are truly working in a global economy today. Yes, there are certainly hurdles to be cleared to be successful doing business in multiple countries, but working with strong partners, like the ones that NovoDynamics and KnowledgeLake have chosen, represents a great way to clear these hurdles.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Business Imaging Expo Less than Five Weeks Out

The Business Imaging Expo, being put on by 1105 Media, is set for Dec. 10-12 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Vegas. The event is aimed at Office Imaging vendors, dealers, and channel and is expected to draw around 1,500 total attendees, including 75-100 vendor exhibitors.

A pair of executive summits kick things off on Tuesday, Dec. 10: one on MPS, and the other on workflow, which has a focus on ECM and document imaging technologies. Featured speakers include Pam Doyle of Fujitsu, Bruce Orcutt of Kofax, and Ron Glaz of IDC.

“This is a brand new event that is a mix of everything we cover,” said Amy Weiss, editorial director for 1105 Media’s Office Technology Group. Weiss oversees three publications: Recharger Magazine, The Imaging Channel, and Workflow. “We see this event as really representing the future of the office imaging market. The tagline features ‘service, supplies, and solutions’ and we see opportunity where those three areas converge. We hope to provide some cutting edge content and information for attendees looking to address the future of the market."

Early-bird rates are in effect until Nov. 15. You can register online at businessimagingexpo.com/events/bix2013