In Focus: When Capture Becomes a Service

Imaging and content management executives were still buzzing last week about

Imaging and content management executives were still buzzing last week about EMC's pending acquisition of Captiva Software, debating just what it will mean to the future of both markets.

"Stop thinking about capture and think of it as imaging as a whole," chided one insider, who read my initial analysis of the deal. To this observer (who wished to remain anonymous), EMC's pending acquisition of the second-largest capture vendor confirms that imaging is an essential pillar of enterprise content management and that it's a clear attempt to take on imaging leaders IBM and FileNet.

As I mentioned in last week's story, a big share of FileNet's revenue comes from imaging and capture, but the company also partnered with Captiva in large forms processing deals. Captiva's ties with IBM were even stronger, with InputAccel and Formware software frequently showing up as the front end for IBM DB2 Content Manager OnDemand deployments. One wag put the IBM-related share of Captiva's business at 20 percent, but Whitney Tidmarsh, vice president of solutions marketing for the EMC Software Group, called that a "gross overstatement."

"Of the 60 percent of Captiva's business that was sold directly, EMC Documentum was the largest driver of revenue by far," Tidmarsh maintained, though she declined to provide details.

Tidmarsh echoed the "we'll-continue-to-work-with-everyone" sentiments expressed in the EMC/Captiva acquisition press release, but Anthony Macciola, vice president of development and marketing at Kofax Image Products, wasn't buying it.

"Everybody will make nice at the corporate level," he said, "but when you take these new relationships to the trenches, salespeople [from EMC rivals] aren't going to bring Captiva into a deal if they know Documentum and EMC salespeople will be hovering around behind the scenes."

Even as she discounted the hit Captiva may take in revenue from third-party partnerships, Tidmarsh emphasized the advantages EMC will gain by controlling the capture software. "One of the biggest complaints that we hear is that capture and content management are too disconnected," she said. "The audit trail for content doesn't currently extend to the capture upfront, and we think we can build a common framework for workflow and compliance management. Just as we took the collaboration services and capabilities of eRoom and embedded it in Documentum, we'll take the imaging services of Captiva and make them callable anytime, anywhere."

Kofax, too, is working toward a services-based approach to imaging, and Macciola insisted that the capture and content management solutions don't have to come from the same vendor to achieve tighter integration. "Our product teams and engineering teams have been talking to content management, ERP and line-of-business application vendors, and we'll be releasing new alternatives for integrating capture and back-end infrastructure," he said.

Better content auditing, compliance and records management will be one opportunity, Macciola agreed, but he said Kofax is also approaching tighter integration from a business process automation standpoint. "As the importance of the tie between capture and workflow becomes more obvious, there's an opportunity to build something better than the standard release script paradigm" used to export images and indexes to back-end management systems.

It shouldn't be surprising that storage bigge EMC underscored the records management, archiving and information lifecycle management promise in both the Captiva deal and last week's Acartus purchase (see my "Doug's Take" ), but I'm sure there's no doubt the company will be singing the praises of business process integration when capture becomes a callable service.

"Capture has been a 'throw-it-over-the-wall' proposition," Tidmarsh said, "but imagine a process participant being able to call an input management service for a rescan or a missing page."

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