EMC was a bit - just a bit - more definitive, saying that over the next few months it will expose content services from its Input Accel capture system (acquired with Captiva in late 2005) within its BPM suite. Two-way communication between BPM and capture will enable users to request rescans or classify documents anywhere within a business process rather than just within the capture environment. And by the end of the year, EMC execs Sean Baird and Naomi Miller said they expect the BPM suite to be able to analyze, administer and report on capture flows within the context of larger business processes, extending end-to-end visibility.
There were plenty of independent capture vendors at AIIM, including Kofax, AnyDoc, ReadSoft and Datacap, and they've been thriving in recent years by focusing on applications such as invoice processing rather than generic horizontal capture capabilities. Datacap president Scott Blau told me that even the venerable medical claims processing business is resurging thanks to the government's replacement of the HCFA claim with the CMS 1500 form and the UB 92 with a new UBO4 form. So much for the end of paperwork!
Kofax keeps trying to crack the boom in distributed scanning and the fast-growing use of multifunction copiers in place of centralized scanning (the same reason Kodak and Fujitsu were showing off network-based workgroup scanners at AIIM). Kofax tried that in the late 1990s with a network scanner, it tried again a few years ago with a product called Ricochet and it's still trying with the Kofax Document Scan Server, introduced last year. The server takes care of all the scan settings and connections with enterprise capture flows so branch office workers don't have to worry about the nuts and bolt of imaging. It's been a tough sell, however, as the device costs more than the typical workgroup scanners it's intended to drive.
I'm more enthusiastic about Kofax's new Document Exchange Server, which is designed to capture through a variety of devices -- multifunction machines, scanners, e-mail and fax systems -- and then deposit documents where they're required in a business process, be it an ECM system, line-of-business applications, workflow, e-mail folder or Kofax Ascent Capture. The services-oriented architecture lets you integrate capture services as and where needed, and the Web-based interface can be exposed on desktops or on MFP control panels (though the support list is currently limited to Lexmark and Ricoh).
The competition for Kofax here is clearly eCopy and NSI Autostore, both of which both have big head starts in MFP support. Kofax's edge is in enterprise connection prowess and business application experience. In fact, with FileNet now owned by IBM and Oracle and EMC putting more emphasis on imaging, it's clear to me that knowledge of and connections with specific business processes will increasingly be the one thing that independent capture vendors can offer that customers may not be able to get from their ECM vendor.If John Mancini mentioned business process management (BPM) once in his keynote address at last month's AIIM Expo he mentioned it a dozen times. Then there were the enterprise content management (ECM) vendors themselves talking up the connection with BPM. To me, the combination is a natural as good old document management, imaging and workflow, so I won't be surprised to see a big BPM push at AIIM 2008.