Capture Services Cross Paper Process Divide

Capture software turns paper documents into easily shared electronic images and computer-readable text.

Capture software turns paper documents into easily shared electronic images and computer-readable text. Yet this onramp to content management systems has been typically treated as a world unto itself. The scanning happens in a mailroom, back office or service bureau who knows where, and the images, index files and extracted data get dumped into repositories and databases. Only then do the real business processes begin.

Now the bifurcation of paper-to-digital processes is slowly closing up. The most recent example of the trend is storage giant EMC's plan to acquire Captiva Software, the second-largest independent provider of capture software. Announced October 20, the $275 million deal will add a company that had $68 million in sales in 2004 to EMC's fast-growing Software Group, which includes EMC Documentum. It also steps up competition with Documentum rivals IBM and FileNet, the two biggest providers of high-volume imaging deployments for banks, insurance companies, government agencies and other organizations that manage paper-intensive business processes.

[ THE Q.T. ]
IBM's Informix database is outselling DB2, says a former Informix executive. Ambuj Goyal, heir to Janet Perna's information management domain, may give the transaction-oriented database more attention.

Capture software combines text-, barcode- and handwriting-recognition software with database integration, data validation and business rule technologies to automate document image indexing. The combination also supports data extraction, data cleansing and automation of forms-dependent processes such as claims and loan applications.

EMC vows it will improve support for business processes and information life-cycle management through better integration of capture and content management. "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," says Whitney Tidmarsh, vice president of solutions marketing for the EMC Software Group. "Just as we took the collaboration services of eRoom and embedded them in Documentum, we'll take the imaging services of Captiva and make them callable anywhere."

FileNet, which sells its own capture modules, also recently touted tighter capture-to-content-management integration. But Kofax Image Products, the largest independent capture vendor, says better integration isn't dependent on owning the back-end infrastructure. Kofax is working on services-based alternatives for integrating capture with content management, ERP systems and line-of-business applications.

Closer ties could ease content auditing, archiving and records management, thereby ensuring compliance — something EMC emphasized. Other possibilities include easier distributed capture with process-connected services for desktop or digital-copier-based ad hoc scanning. And the content classification, data editing and validation capabilites of capture software could drive services for tagging information and cleansing data.

Better integration could also drive more intelligent business processes, providing early warnings on fraudulent or faulty claims, high-value transactions or exceptions. Even today, capture reporting tools are used to drive workload balancing and downstream planning.

— Doug Henschen

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