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.
We all know our current paper-based health information process wastes hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Transforming this into a streamlined 21st century electronic system will require moving though stages of maturity from paper charts to the cross provider electronic health record (EHR). And yes, Forrester will be publishing it's maturity model soon which hopefully will be more understandable then the health care bill. Our basic conclusion is that a narrow focus on electronic medical records packaged apps. or paper replacement technologies will fall short of stated goals. Meaningful use - as in qualifying for governement bonuses - will require a process –centric view and a portfolio of technologies including enterprise content management (ECM), business process management (BPM), analytics and Forms Automation. Our three phase maturity model will show how these foundation technologies help move through the phases most providers will transit to get to the 21st century health care system we all need. Stay tuned.
BPM has always provided fertile ground for new ideas but often results in confusing business process and application professionals. Recently Dynamic Case Management and Social BPM are being spoken of as important directions for BPM. But how do they relate to one another? And since social media is an important part of both, what value does social really add to process improvement and Line of Business professionals if any? No doubt social improves collaboration in process design, and more important is the ability -with analytics to add a new form of input to process improvement -input that may go directly to the CEO. This is part of the BPM advantage but the area of Case Management may have more dramatic value as you collaborate during a critical incident like an adverse drug reaction, or create a stronger community to deliver a more personalized service event -or to gather "voice of the customer" data to improve case handling. But in both BPM and Case -social is an enabler and takes a seat along side important advancements such as analytics, convergence of BPM and ECM, and a stronger domain focus.
Analytics gets a lot of attention these days. And it should. Additional business insight is really important to improve the customer experience and more and more to understand the on-line experience. And predictive analytics is really cool. But these exciting areas tell only part of the story. Analytics can also help improve content management and transactional business processes. The infrastructure and plumbing that keeps most companies afloat. Analytics can help consolidate archives, improve capture, classify documents, improve business processes, and enhance the value of packaged apps. In short, there is a strong analytics play just for better content management and process improvement but poorly deeloped use cases and better buzz in other areas tamps down the potential. But we shall hear more about this soon.
Interest in case management will climb higher and higher throughout 2010. The drivers are a mix of old and new an include. The most important - there will be an increased need to manage the costs and risks of servicing customer requests — like loans, claims, and benefits. Customer experience has evolved to where fundamentals of the product are secondary. Its now about design and the personality of the experience. I tried to help my daughter buy a car the other day. The Ford Focus didn't make the cut. Why? No lighted mirror. I then knew I was in for a long process.
There is also a greater emphasis on automating and tracking inconsistent "incidents" that do not follow a well-defined process. Does homeland security come to mind? And lots of new pressure on government agencies to respond to a higher number of citizen requests. But this next one is the killer. We will see new demands from regulators, auditors, and litigants on businesses to respond to external regulations. After Bernie "made off" with 50B or so the SEC had an epiphany of sorts. Gee.Lets give the field agents more authority to investigate — and perhaps depoliticize the process. Brilliant. Lets let the folks that actually know the regulatory target actually make decisions. Well. Great. We think this will lead to a ramped up number of investigative inquires and guess what? Each one is best handled as a case where consistent policies, audit trails, and analytics can apply. Lastly, there is the increased use of collaboration and social media to support unstructured business processes.
SharePoint 2010 unleashed a host of improvements for line of business (LOB), security and compliance, developers, and the data center. But unlike SharePoint 2007 that grouped a set of diverse technologies into a single platform, SharePoint 2010 takes dead aim at improving business processes by connecing people more directly to them. Visual Studio, SharePoint Designer, social features, enhancements to Visio and improved enterprise content management (ECM) support all directly benefit LOB process execution. SharePoint 2010 platform is not going to replace core transactional business process management (BPM) or provide needed infrastructure for continue improvement, but it will bring social computing into business and connect information workers to formerly siloed business processes. The best news is Business Connectivity Services ehich allows -among other things - to more easily publish content from enterprise apps. and core transaction systems to SharePoint team sites and portals - and keep them live. This gets a rid of a host of non-value-added activity - copying, updating, moving to spreadsheets etc. that often plagued infromation workers. I've got a more indepth analysis of 2010 in the works for January publication.
Staples Technology Solutions - a separately managed part of the growing company - will outsource your desktops or address print management needs. So this means IT outsourcing as well providing Managed Print Services for printers, imaging equipment, copiers, and fax machines. They are strong in volume pricing and support coverage and will do well in the mid part of these markets. I would have liked to have seen more connection to their print and copy retail service centers. For example allowing jobs to be routed from a business to a retail center for special preparation - the type of things corporate print centers use to do.