Electronic signatures are gaining momentum and becoming an increasingly popular topic of discussion among Forrester clients. In retrospect, today’s e-signature users will be seen as early adopters. And in 10 years, the dominant form of signature will be digital, with adoption driven by rampant uptake in consumer technology — particularly mobile applications with embedded signing authority. It’s a vision that helped push this SaaS-based acquisition — but it’s only part of the story. Today, many vendors integrate with Adobe LiveCycle, which has a digital signature available in its Forms product. Adobe Forms has a strong signing capability, but did not provide a well-integrated platform for handling documents or executing agreements, including such functionality as hierarchical signing, embedded PKI support, separate forms management, adding fields at the time of signing, or electronic evidence. These had to be developed with other LiveCycle components, such as BPM, or with other e-signature solutions such as those from Silanis, DocuSign, and ARX. As it’s Monday morning, I’ll make it simple. Until the EchoSign acquisition, Adobe allowed you to send a form for signing — but had limited signing applications out of the box. Further, EchoSign is a hard-charging company with a SaaS solution that emphasizes simplicity, but it did not focus on IT buyers and had fewer authentication options. This acquisition is a great fit for both: Adobe will provide more solutions capability and IT focus and gets a full e-signature application. Initially, EchoSign will be part of Adobe’s online document exchange services platform and be integrated with Adobe’s SendNow for FormsCentral for form creation.
OpenText is at it again — and another independent BPM provider is gone. This time it’s Global 360. But Global 360 was more than BPM; it had done a good — no, great — job revitalizing what was at its core an ECM rollup of midrange and questionable solutions (remember Kodak, Keyfile — I actually met an original Keyfile developer there — and ViewStar?). But it nurtured this account base well and built a fast-growing BPM and case management business. It’s now been purchased by the ultimate ECM rollup, OpenText. (It would be interesting, although not partcularly productive, to count the number of original products that OpenText now has — perhaps 500?) Global 360 also created a strong case management platform (you may want to consult our Forrester Wave™ on the subject, where Global 360 was a Leader), with an integrated suite to address the mix of complex unstructured and structured processes that organizations face. Global 360 continued to focus on content-centric casemanagement applications — a strong fit with OpenText’s transaction management assets — and provided an innovative process vision based on a “persona” approach that focuses on the needs of case workers and stakeholders and leveraging emergent design principles. In short, this should really help OpenText in the emerging case management market, and OpenText will be able to put more meat behind Global 360’s focus on the SharePoint ecosystem.
WaterWare will add more software development and consulting services to Xerox which is always a good thing but more importantly, WaterWare has the Aquifer EHR electronic records system that helps convert paper records to electronic data. Added to Xerox's broad document services and global reach the combination gives Xerox strong capability in electronic health records capture and management. Health Care Reform = as we know- is pushing providers to meet “meaningful use” guidleines which boil down to turning massive quantities of unstructured content into structured data -allowing better monitoting of patient outcomes, better access to health data for consumers, and lower administrative costs. Could there be a stronger core competency for this company – and this combination. I also like WaterWare as a launching point for broader Dynamic Case Management solutions they can extend Xerox capability, using DocuShare foundation BPM and ECM components in verticals like pharmacy and order automation. Combining WaterWare with DocuShare makes sense to boost professional services and system integration, but also to provide some luster to a strong product that has been a bit buried in the larger Xerox. So, a nice pick up.
Forrester is conducting a deep dive into dynamic case management usage by interviewing 50 companies implementing these solutions and evaluating 10 dynamic case management (DCM) platforms for an upcoming Forrester Wave. Enterprises are using DCM solutions to tackle untamed processes that service a myriad of customer and citizen requests, automate and track "incidents" related to investigations, and meet new compliance demands from a growing number of ever-more-scrupulous regulators. And with an eye to the future, business process professionals report that DCM offers great potential to align process outcomes with organizational goals, leverage unique expertise of I-workers, and improve agility for case workers, business managers, and IT.
But one aspect of this is interesting in the way DCM may change existing management approaches. The new generation of case management platforms allow for more rapid change by the case worker, business process pros, and IT. But this ability only matters if aligned with organizational agility, i.e., allows rules, such as dollar approval limits, to be approved by management in the same time frame. Approving a new rule or wording change in a communication can take weeks at some enterprises today. So management will have to decentralize decision-making to the case worker.
Open Text today announced that it has acquired StreamServe, a provider of customer communication management solutions. The acquisition will add a missing piece from the OT portfolio — document output for customer communication management — and will enhance Open Text's SAP partnership. DoCCM is becoming more important to push transactional content for multichannel communication and as one of the components of dynamic case management solutions. StreamServe has always had strong post composition, output management, and production management, particularly for invoices and statements generated by ERP systems, including SAP and Lawson Software. It's a dominant provider of CCM in the energy, utility, and supply chain segments. Its partnership with Adobe — which integrates StreamServe's Persuasion with Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES and repackages it as LiveCycle Production Print ES — has enhanced the North American presence. But at its core, StreamServe excels at integrating DoCCM into structured and enterprise apps to leverage its work processing and will benefit from integrating with OT systems, particularly the more capable BPM and WCM solutions. Fairly predictable — but a good move for both firms.
OK, a bit of a stretch here, but I did spend 15 minutes one-on-one with the great hurler last week at the Xerox analyst conference at Citi Field in New York. And thankfully, the Mets were not playing. Tom signed my baseball as I toyed with asking him about Roger Clemens, steroids, and Hall-of-Fame-type questions, and the best I could come up with was simply asking how hard he threw the ball in his prime. He scowled and looked at me as if talking to a 5-year-old and said, "There are three important things about pitching — and yes velocity is one, but location, and the ball's movement are the others, and speed is the least important." So I thought about this, and it occurred to me that we focus on speed — in this case — only because we have radar guns that can measure it well. Movement and location are more difficult, so we just ignore them. And perhaps this is a problem with performance management in business today. We focus not on the more important metrics, but the ones we can conveniently grasp. Contact center call duration, as an example, is much less important than the time or the number of successful customer encounters. So thanks, Tom, for this insight, and perhaps we should spend a bit more time taking an outside in approach to metrics.
You might think summer would be a good time to give acquisitions a break - to let things settle a bit. But the pace of key acquisitions continues and many deserve comment. Datacap, as we all know, is not new to IBM having many - probably 20 - joint customers. This helps shore up IBM's already packed ECM portfolio - which depended for capture on Kofax - and other partners like Datacap. The original capture assets, acquired with FileNet, were adequate but lacked forms processing and a distributed capture strategy. This acquisition plugs those gaps but more importantly provides a needed platform to overlay IBM's suite of analytics products to improve business processes with metadata extraction, document classification, and ultimately to bring text analytics to transactional business processes. Advanced capture will also help IBM in advancing areas of dynamic case management and medical records.
In this podcast, Principal Analyst Craig Le Clair will discuss one of the classic untamed processes, invoice processing. Results from a survey of accounts payable departments will be shared, highlighting current pain points of automating the accounts payable process. Also discussed is how enterprise content management and EIPP can possibly help to tame accounts payable.
I'll admit to spending only 3 hours on the show floor. Most was spent in the cavernous and gloomy AIIM sessions area where I gave an "Analyst Take" session on SharePoint 2010, a talk on Dynamic Case Management, and reviewed suppliers for Document output for Customer Communications. My impression of the floor activity was an improvement over the last two years. Perhaps contraction of sponsorships had hit the right balance with demand, or perhaps the great spring weather and improving economy were at work, but the mood was upbeat and the crowds were steady. Vendors were grumbling less. Cloud talk and SaaS were under-represented. E-discovery and records management were in line. And the usual interesting collection of arcane conversion, migration, capture, and other providers - usually in the lower rent districts - continued the tradition. SharePoint was again pervasive. Those that say "that ship has come in" may not be aware of other ports and forms of transportation. One wonders what the future of the show is if the SharePoint sessions are the biggest draw and Microsoft and key partners have the biggest booths. Philly is a city that has lost its major corporate headquarters and no longer has growth industries - but it does not deserve its reputation. The AIIM show - with roots in microfilm and paper - is similar - and likewise - is still pretty good.
Analytics is getting a lot of attention these days for additional business insight, improving the customer experience, and understanding the online experience. But these exciting areas tell only part of the story. Analytics is after all a horizontal technology that can also help improve content management and transactional business processes by helping to classify documents, improve business processes, and enhance the value of packaged apps. Open Text is adapting to this trend with announced plans to integrate the content analytics capabilities of Nstein Technologies, acquired on April 1, that will drive additional value in a number of areas including - regulated documents, email, social media, Web content, OCR-treated scanned images, and content in business systems, such as Microsoft, SAP and Oracle. While Open Text's first integration of Nstein technology will integrate content analytics with Vignette Content Management system, and the Media Management DAM solution, the bigger value will come from integration with its Enterprise Library, the core repository, and will be marketed as Open Text Content Analytics. I have three related research projects that touch on analytics – a review of the content integration market, top use cases for content analytics, and how analytics can take capture to the next level. Analytics will be a foundation component for the enxt generation of ECM - and OT is moving that direction.