Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Dialogue with Xamcor's Paul Carman on Lexmark-Kofax Deal

The following is a correspondence between Ralph Gammon, the editor of the Document Imaging Report, and Paul Carman, President and CEO of Xamcor, discussing what this deal means to the companies involved, as well as the industry as a whole.

Ralph Gammon of DIR: So, no surprise that an MFP vendor has announced plans to acquire Kofax. What is surprising is that it was Lexmark, instead of Xerox.

Paul Carman of Xamcor: I agree. Of course, it’s no surprise that Lexmark made another software acquisition , as they have been very active in building their software capabilities. However, Kofax does come as a bit of a surprise. With Brainware, an earlier acquisition, and then ReadSoft closing some months ago, the capture space didn’t seem to be the next logical area of opportunity.

To read the rest, please click through to the Xamcor site

Part II of the interview, in which we discuss if there is any merit to a shareholder rights-focused law firm filing a complaint against Kofax for not maximizing shareholder value.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lexmark Attempting To Corner the Market on Capture

Wow. That really caught me by surprise. About 4:30 today it was announced that Lexmark was acquiring Kofax for $1B net of cash. I was just finishing up my Kofax Transform conference story and about to start writing my piece about how Xerox was going to integrate the Kofax technology into its organization. It really made a compelling story. And the rumor circulating around AIIM last week, was the the Xerox-Kofax deal was going to close any day...Then I heard something about Kofax asking for too much, and the next thing I know Lexmark announced it had made a bid of $11 per share, or about a 47% premium over what the Kofax stock was trading at today. It's also more than 3x Kofax's 2014 reported non-GAAP reported revenue of $297M -so from that perspective it's not a bad deal.

There is a lot to like about this deal from Perceptive's standpoint. It's latest and most aggressive move in an already aggressive ECM software strategy. That said, there is certainly some overlap with the recent ReadSoft acquisition, as well as its previous Brainware acquisition. But, if you are going to transition from a hardware to a software vendor, you might as well go hard.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Xerox make a counter offer, but if $1B was already too rich for their blood. But still, if I was Xerox, I would be looking to find some money somewhere, because they really were planning on investing a lot in this partnership and now Kofax is in danger of being taken off the market by a competitor. Exciting times.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ephesoft's Vision for the Future of IDR

Coming out of AIIM last year I had come up with a vision on the potential future of the document imaging industry. I've repeated the mantra several times since - and it goes like this: "Capture it all and let the technology sort it out."

In fact, I recently completed a piece for Quality Associates' upcoming Insights newsletter detailing what I see as some of the driving forces behind this vision. They include trends like increased multi-channel capture and increasing intelligence in capture driven by emerging technology like natural language processing.

This year I attended the Ephesoft Innovate conference  prior to heading down to San Diego for AIIM 2015. At Innovate, Ephesoft founder and CTO Ike Kavas presented on his vision for the future - which I thought dovetailed nicely with mine. Kavas and his team at Ephesoft have even gone so far as to developing a brand new product - Ephesoft Universe - designed to enable organizations to mine their documents.

Due for release later this year, Universe leverages Big Data tools like Hadoop. According to Kavas, Universe is able to leverage 16 different characteristics to classify a document and recognize a field. Ephesoft is developing machine learning algorithms to consider these characteristics. The bottom line is that this is a lot of data being put through a process that requires a lot of computing power - hence the need for the Big Data tools, especially if a user is throwing a high-volume of documents at it.

The end game for Universe is trying to reduce the time it takes to implement a classification and extraction application from months to minutes. Also, the idea is to enable individual users (not system admins) to set up personalized auto-classification and extraction applications.

Kavas was brave enough to show a demo of Universe, which he expects to be released, in Version 1.0, later this spring. Basically, a user creates their own document classes, feeds it examples, and chooses and labels which fields it wants to extract based on the highlighted fields that Universe was able to recognize. Once the data is extracted, it is fed into an analytics application that is also built into Universe. An example Kavas showed utilized hot/cold zone graphing to show the average price of houses in different states in the country.

Other potential application ideas tossed about included mining medical records for various reasons including enforcing records retention policies, mining expense reports to enable more informed negotiations with vendors, and examining financial documents for at-risk loans or security risks.

There is a lot here, and I'll have more detail in my next premium issue of DIR. Ephesoft's current goal is to find some customers and partners to help it determine what needs to be done next on the road to productizing Universe. But, there is clearly a lot of potential, mainly because it offers to make accessible what has historically been very high-end technology, whose adoption has been slowed somewhat I feel by paralysis by overanalysis.  If Ephesoft can really make Universe a universal tool, I think we'll start to see a slew of new IDR applications developed on top of it.