Category Archives: capture

ABBYY Technology Summit 2017

Welcome back after a nice long summer break!

Last year, I gave the keynote at ABBYY’s Technology Summit, and I’m headed back to San Diego this year to just do the analyst stuff: attend briefings and hang out at the conference sessions. This will give me a chance to do more writing than when I’m presenting; last year, I only had time to blog about one session at ABBYY’s conference.

You can find out more about the summit and register to attend here, and more about ABBYY and their intelligent capture products here. Looks like some interesting sessions, including those on improving capture and recognition with machine learning.

Readers may have noticed that I’ve severely curtailed my conference travel in the past year or two. Large conferences just aren’t good value for my time, especially for vendors that have a wide variety of products outside my area of interest:  when I attend a conference, I’m giving up billable time to be there so need to gain useful information or make valuable contacts to make it worth my while. I will almost always attend a client’s conference even if I’m not speaking, or a smaller conference that looks interesting, or one in an interesting location. As described on my Legal page, a vendor must cover my travel expenses to have me attend their conference but doesn’t provide any other remuneration unless I’m also giving a presentation at the conference.

AIIM breakfast meeting on Feb 16: digital transformation and intelligent capture

AIIM TorontoI’m speaking at the AIIM breakfast meeting in Toronto on February 16, with an updated version of the presentation that I gave at the ABBYY conference in November on digital transformation and intelligent capture. ABBYY is generously sponsoring this meeting and will give a brief presentation/demo on their intelligent capture and text analytics products after my presentation.

Here’s the description of my talk:

This presentation will look at how digital transformation is increasing the value of capture and text analytics, recognizing that these technologies provide an “on ramp” to the intelligent, automated processes that underlie digital transformation. Using examples from financial services and retail companies, we will examine the key attributes of this digital transformation. We will review step-by-step, the role of intelligent capture in digital transformation, showing how a customer-facing financial services process is changed by intelligent capture technologies. We will finish with a discussion of the challenges of introducing intelligent capture technologies as part of a digital transformation initiative.

You can register to attend here, and there’s a discount if you’re an AIIM member.

You can read about last month’s meeting here, which featured Jason Bero of Microsoft talking about SharePoint and related Microsoft technologies that are used for classification, preservation, protection and disposal of information assets.

Intelligent Capture enables Digital Transformation at #ABBYYSummit16

IMG_0672I’ve been in beautiful San Diego for the past couple of days at the ABBYY Technology Summit, where I gave the keynote yesterday on why intelligent capture (including recognition technologies and content analytics) is a necessary onramp to digital transformation. I started my career in imaging and workflow over 25 years ago – what we would now call capture, ECM and BPM – and I’ve seen over and over again that if you don’t extract good data up front as quickly as possible, then you just can’t do a lot to transform those downstream processes. You can see my slides at Slideshare as usual:

I’m finishing up a white paper for ABBYY on the same topic, and will post a link here when it’s up on their site. Here’s the introduction (although it will probably change slightly before final publication):

Data capture from paper or electronic documents is an essential step for most business processes, and often is the initiator for customer-facing business processes. Capture has traditionally required human effort – data entry workers transcribing information from paper documents, or copying and pasting text from electronic documents – to expose information for downstream processing. These manual capture methods are inefficient and error-prone, but more importantly, they hinder customer engagement and self-service by placing an unnecessary barrier between customers and the processes that serve them.

Intelligent capture – including recognition, document classification, data extraction and text analytics – replaces manual capture with fully-automated conversion of documents to business-ready data. This streamlines the essential link between customers and your business, enhancing the customer journey and enabling digital transformation of customer-facing processes.

I chilled out a bit after my presentation, then decided to attend one presentation that looked really interesting. It was, but was an advance preview of a product that’s embargoed until it comes out next year, so you’ll have to wait for my comments on it. Winking smile

A well-run event with a lot of interesting content, attended primarily by partners who build solutions based on ABBYY products, as well as many of ABBYY’s team from Russia (where a significant amount of their development is done) and other locations. It’s nice to attend a 200-person conference for a change, where – just like Cheers – everybody knows your name.

Keynoting at @ABBYY_USA Technology Summit

I’ve been in the BPM field since long before it was called BPM, starting with imaging and workflow projects back in the early 1990s. Although my main focus is on process now (hence the name of my blog), almost every project that I’m involved in has some element of content and capture, although not necessarily from paper documents. Basically, content capture is the onramp to many business processes: either the capture of a piece of content is what triggers a process (e.g., an application form) or it adds information to a process to move it along. Capture can mean traditional document scanning with intelligent recognition in the form of OCR, ICR, barcode and mark sense recognition, or can also be capture of information already in electronic form but not in a structured format (e.g., emails).

To get to the point, this is why I’m excited to be keynoting at the ABBYY Technology Summit coming up on November 16-18, in a presentation entitled How Digital Transformation is Increasing the Value of Capture and Text Analytics:

As the business world has been wrestling with the challenge of Digital transformation, the last few years have seen the shift away from BPM and Case Management technology platforms towards the more solutions-orientated approach offered by Smart Process Applications and Case Management Frameworks. A critical component of these business solutions is capability to capture the key business information at the point of origin.

This information is often buried inside forms and other business documents. Capturing this data through recognition technologies and automatic document classification transforms streams of documents of any structure and complexity into business-ready data.

This enables organizations of any size to streamline their existing business processes, increasing efficiency and reducing costs; it also enables real-time customer self-service processes triggered by mobile document capture.

I’ll be covering trends and benefits of intelligent capture, providing ABBYY’s customers and partners in attendance with solid advice on how to best start integrating these technologies to make their business processes run better. I’m also writing a paper covering these topics, sponsored by ABBYY, which will be available in time for the conference.

If you’re at the conference, please stop by and say hi, I’ll be hanging out there for the rest of the day after my keynote.

AIIM Toronto seminar: FNF Canada’s data capture success

Following John Mancini’s keynote, we heard from two of the sponsors, SourceHOV and ABBYY. Pam Davis of SourceHOV spoke about EIM/ECM market trends, based primarily on analyst reports and surveys, before giving an overview of their BoxOffice product.

ABBYY chose to give their speaking slot to a customer, Anjum Iqbal of FNF Canada, who spoke about their capture and ECM projects. FNF provides services to financial institutions in a variety of lending areas, and deals with a lot of faxed documents. A new business line would have their volume move to 4,500 inbound faxes daily, mostly time-sensitive documents, such as mortgage or loan closing, that need to be processed within an hour of receipt. To do this manually, they would have needed to increase their 4 full time staff to 10 people handle the inbound workflow even at a rate of 1 document/minute; instead, they used ABBYY FlexiCapture to build a capture solution for the faxes that would extract the data using OCR, and interface with their downstream content and workflow systems without human intervention. The presentation went by pretty quickly, but we learned that they had a 3-month implementation time.

I stayed on for the roundtable that ABBYY hosted, with Iqbal giving more details on their implementation. They reached a tipping point when the volume of inbound printed faxes just couldn’t be handled manually, particularly when they added some new business lines that would increase their volume significantly. Unfortunately, the processes involving the banks were stuck on fax technology — that is, the banks refused to move to electronic transfer rather than faxes — so they needed to work with that fixed constraint. They needed quality data with near-zero error rates extracted from the faxes, and selected ABBYY and one of their partners to help build a solution that took advantage of standard form formats and 100% machine printing on the forms (rather than handwriting). The forms weren’t strictly fixed format, in that some critical information such as mortgage rates may be in different places on the document depending on the other content of the form; this requires a more intelligent document classification as well as content analytics to extract the information. They have more than 40 templates that cover all of their use cases, although still need to have one person in the process to manage any exceptions where the recognition certainty was below a certain percentage. Given the generally poor quality of faxed documents, undoubtedly this capture process could also handle documents scanned on a standard business scanner or even a mobile device in addition to their current RightFax server. Once the data is captured, it’s formatted as XML, which their internal development team then used to integrate with the downstream processes, while the original faxes are stored in a content management system.

Given that these processes accept mortgage/loan application forms and produce the loan documents and other related documentation, this entire business seems ripe for disruption, although given the glacial pace of technology adoption in Canadian financial services, this could be some time off. With the flexible handling of inbound documents that they’ve created, FNF Canada will be ready for it when it happens.

That’s it for me at the AIIM Toronto seminar; I had to duck out early and missed the two other short sponsor presentations by SystemWare and Lexmark/Kofax, as well as lunch and the closing keynote. Definitely worth catching up with some of the local people in the industry as well as hearing the customer case studies.

AIIM Toronto keynote with @jmancini77

I’m at the AIIM Toronto seminar today — I pretty much attend anything that is in my backyard and looks interesting — and John Mancini of AIIM is opening the day with a talk on business processes. Yes, Mr. Column 1 is talking about Column 2, if you get the Zachman reference. This is actually pretty significant: content management isn’t just about content, just as process management isn’t just about process, but both need to overlap and work together. I had a call with Mancini yesterday in advance of my keynote at ABBYY’s conference next month, and we spent 30 minutes talking about how disruption in capture technologies has changed all business processes. Today, in his keynote, he talked about disruptive business processes that have transformed many industries.

John Mancini at AIIM TorontoHe gave us a look at people, process and technology against the rise (and sometimes fall) of different technology platforms: document management and workflow; enterprise content management; mobile and cloud. There are a lot of issues as we move from one type of platform to another: moving to a cloud SaaS offering, for example, drives the move from perimeter-based security to asset-based security. He showed a case study for financial processes within organizations — such as accounts payable and receivable — with both a tactical dimention of getting things done and a strategic side of building a bridge to digital transformation. Most businesses (especially traditional ones) operate at a slim profit margin, making it necessary to look at ways to reduce costs: not through small, incremental improvements, but through more transformational means. For financial processes, in many cases this means getting rid of manual data capture and manipulation: no more manual data entry, no more analysis via spreadsheets. And cost reduction isn’t the key driver behind transforming financial business processes any more: it’s the need for better business analytics. Done right, these analytics provide real-time insight into your business that provide a strategic competitive differentiator: the ability to predict and react to changing business conditions.

Mancini finished by allowing today’s sponsors, with booths around the room, to introduce themselves: Precision ContentAIIMBoxPanasonicSystemWareABBYYSourceHOV, and Lexmark (Kofax). I’ll be here for the rest of the morning, and look forward to hearing from some of the sponsors and their customers here today.

Analytics For Kofax TotalAgility With @Altosoft

Last session here at Kofax Transform, and as much I’d like to be sitting around the pool, I also like to squeeze every bit out of these events, and support the speakers who get this most unenviable timeslot. I’ve been in a couple of the analytics sessions over the past two days, which are based on the Kofax Altasoft Insight product. Married with TotalAgility for process analytics, they offer a simple version with some pre-defined dashboards, a more complete version but tied only to the KTA databases, and the full version that has the full Insight functionality with any data sources including KTA. The focus seems to be only on document capture workflow analytics, with many of the default reports on things like productivity, extraction rates and field accuracy in the scan and extraction modules; although these are definitely important, and likely of primary importance to Kofax’s current customer base of capture clients, the use cases for their demos need to push further into the post-capture business processes if they expect to be taken seriously as a BPM vendor. I know that KTA is a “first mile” solution and the capture processes are essential, but there should be more to apply analytics to across the customer journey managed within a SPA.

The visualization and dynamic filtering is pretty nice, as you would expect in the Altosoft environment, allowing you to drill into specific processes and tasks to find problem areas in process quality and operator performance. Traditional capture customers in the audience are going to like this, since it provides a lot of information on those front-end processes that can become an expensive bottleneck to downstream processing. 

We had another look at the process intelligence that I saw in an earlier session, monitoring event logs from capture workflows plus downstream processing in KTA or another system such as a third-party BPM or ERP system. Although that’s all good stuff, it does highlight that the Kofax end-to-end solution is made up of a number of systems strung together, rather than an integrated platform with shared infrastructure. It’s also completely document-centric since it uses document ID as the instance ID: again, well-suited for their current capture customers, but not necessarily the mind-set required to approach a more general BPM/case management market that is more data-centric than document-centric.

This wraps up Kofax Transform 2015. There is a customer awards dinner tonight that I plan to attend, then head home tomorrow. Thanks to the entire Kofax team, especially the amazing analyst relations crew, for inviting me here and making sure my time was well-spent. As a matter of disclosure, Kofax paid my travel expenses to be here, but did not otherwise compensate me for my time or for anything that I wrote here on my blog. Kofax has been a customer of mine in the past for presentations at Transform as well as webinars and white papers.

My next event is bpmNEXT in Santa Barbara at the end of the month — if you’re interested in the next generation of BPM or just want to hang with a bunch of BPM geeks in a relatively non-partisan environment, I highly recommend that you check it out.

KofaxTransform 2015: Day 2 Customer Keynotes

I had a chance to hear Tom Knapp from Waterstone Mortgage speak yesterday at the analyst briefing here at Kofax Transform, and we have him to kick off this morning’s keynote. They started their journey with Kofax a year ago, and participated in the Kofax sales kickoff in January of this year to show their use of Kofax Mortgage Agility. It will be going beta this month in a couple of their branches, and rolling out across all branches later this year. They are looking to improve the loan process pipeline, which goes from loan application to initial processing to underwriting to approval to closing; they started their improvement process by examining what data and documentation is required at what step in the process, and the challenges in collecting those documents, such as replacing illegible documents and clarifying the applicant’s cash flow. Given that time to correct documentation errors can be from 2 days to 4 weeks, this can cause problems because there is typically a fixed closing date that needs to be met for funding. He expects the market to shift so that millennials will dominate household formation, and therefore the mortgage market, and that smartphones are a key way for those potential customers to perform their financial transactions. There are also some changing mortgage regulations in the US that deal with costs and fee disclosure, and getting better information earlier in the process helps Waterstone to make those disclosures as required.

They expect four major classes of benefits from implementing Mortgage Agility:

  • Market: improved borrower experience, and a consistent borrower portal for life of loan
  • Technology: leveraging mobile capture, e-disclosure and e-signatures
  • Loan process flow: lifting data from documents to populate application, eliminating paper where possible, use intelligence and automation in the process to assist underwriter and other knowledge workers
  • Compliance: support new regulatory and compliance requirements

Waterstone has not implemented Mortgage Agility yet, so we will have to wait until next year to hear about their success.

Next up was Tim Dewey from Safe-Guard Products, talking about their journey in transforming claims processing for today’s connected customer. They sell automotive-related insurance, including such products as wear-and-tear during a lease, and wheel insurance. (As a non-car-owner, I didn’t even realize that these things existed.) They wanted to improve the claims process by reducing service “friction”, particularly in handoffs, touchpoints, and requesting information from the customer; and in improving the customer experience. To address the service friction, they created a new adjudication process using Kofax TotalAgility, with new job roles to match the claims process and reduce handoffs and touches, plus automation of the content management. For customer engagement, they created a self-service capability for all stakeholders, allowing both document uploads and status checks, plus automated milestone notifications to the customer; as an aside, this also improves back-office efficiency by reducing status calls and paper handling.

They measured performance before and after, so can tell how well this is working: significant improvements in claim touches and adjudication cycle time, and reduced customer calls. They are working to improve this further through more back-office automation and additional transparency and self-service. A great success story.

We finished the keynote with a panel moderated by Anthony Macciola, Kofax CTO, including Knapp and Dewey, plus Craig LeClair from Forrester and Dave Caldeira, Kofax Product Marketing. Some discussions on disruption in business — again, supposedly “millennial”-related — and the value proposition of improving the first mile of business that Kofax is addressing. Macciola gave a shorter version of the product capability briefing that we heard in the analyst session yesterday, which you can read about at that post, then had Knapp and Dewey share their experiences in digital transaction management.

I’ll be sticking around for the rest of the day and will be blogging from some of the breakout sessions; looks like there’s a great lineup.

As an aside, the “us versus them” discussions about the millennials is getting a bit tired. We really need to stop this characterization, because everything that Knapp, Dewey and Macciola said about millennials is also true for me and many other Boomer/Gen Xers that I know — smartphone use (I am live-blogging from my phone and tablet right now), self-service (faster and more accurate if I do it myself), preferred modes of customer service (online and asynchronous so that I can get service even if I’m travelling and in other time zones), social media participation (did I mention that I’m blogging from my phone?) and more — and I’m 25+ years too old to hit the millennial demographic. I’ve written about this before, but can we stop having customers and vendors stand up at conferences and talk in a slightly bemused and condescending tone about how their adult kids use their smartphones? It’s really a split between those who embrace new technology and those who are dragging their feet (even senior executives in technology companies, who should be setting an example rather than resisting new technology and the ways of business that it enables), and although there is some degree of age correlation, it’s not so simple as just birth year. </rant>

Tablets And Digital Signatures At AIA Life

Just to maximize confusion, we have a second AIA at the Kofax Transform conference: this morning, Aia referred to the customer communications management company recently acquired by Kofax; this afternoon, AIA is the pan-Asian life insurance company, with their director of distribution platforms Steffen Schade talking about their experience with capturing digital signatures on an iPad for life insurance applications. Since they have a captive sales force, the iPad app is used by their advisors, not by the customers directly; it really becomes their sales kit, from financial needs analysis to quotation to application to written signature to payment. It appears that they were a Softpro (since acquired by Kofax) customer when their e-signature project started, but not otherwise using Kofax products.

Adoption has been great: they went from 1800 advisors in 4 countries using it in 2012, to 30k advisors in 11 countries by the end of 2014. Productivity has increased by 34% per advisor, allowing them to see more customers in a day while providing a better customer experience because of immediate access to information and faster turnaround, in addition to the efficiency gains in the back office for processing the applications. The project cycle was driven by the needs of the field sales force, and done on a per-country basis to allow adjustments to be made for regional variances as well as incorporating improvements discovered in previous deployments. Feedback from the advisors is very positive, and even technically unsophisticated customers have few problems using the advisor’s iPad to view and sign their applications.

Their next goal is a complete mobile office for advisors, providing more functionality such as lead management and productivity metrics; the only Kofax component is the e-signature, but this is a good example of using Kofax products as embedded components in an existing application rather than a complete solution. They need to have something to integrate the different components that they are already using in both the sales e-signature application and the more complete mobile office, but it’s not clear that they are looking at Kofax for that. Lots of interested questions from the audience about mobile capture, including mobile device management, limiting screen snapshots and more.

Kofax Analyst Briefing And Portfolio Update

Following the Kofax Transform day 1 keynotes, we had a separate session for financial and industry analysts to be briefed on the products and financials.

After a brief introduction from Reynolds Bish, we had a detailed briefing on the Kofax product portfolio from Anthony Macciola, the CTO, focusing on the themes of digital transaction management and the first mile of business. The first mile is driven by customer expectations, allowing business transactions to become conversations. Customer demands, however, are exceeding the capabilities of many organizations, in terms of business culture as well as systems of record. Interactions need to be simple, easy, quick and informative, and companies need to be able to reach out and collaborate with a customer as part of the process. This brought him to a discussion of the Softpro and Aia acquisitions, which provide e-signatures and outbound customer communications management, respectively. These both have the ability to be rebranded and can be fully integrated into Kofax TotalAgility (KTA) applications, meaning that they can be used to create touchpoints with customers that are seamless, personalized, and contain closed loop identifiers for efficient processing of paper correspondence.

Outbound customer communications management provides a way to create outbound correspondence to customers by marrying configurable templates with customer-specific data fields — think of it as a super-sophisticated MS-Word mail merge. Macciola showed the Aia designer and how it is used to create reusable library assets such as headers, footers and body text using MS-Word for user familiarity and easy import from existing documents, then assemble those assets into templates. These can include closed loop identifiers such as bar code versions of customer and case IDs for rendering as printed documents that can be auto-rendezvoused with the case on their return, but it’s more interesting to look at the case of publishing as electronic documents with e-signature requirements embedded, including identifying and authenticating reviewers and signers, and orchestrating the “signing ceremony” process. These are pretty important additions to the Kofax portfolio for managing the first mile of customer engagement, where a customer needs to sign and return documents related to an account or transaction: the customer can choose to print and sign the document (or receive a printed document in the first place), then return it for scanning and rendezvous, or they can choose to sign it electronically in a secure environment that creates a PDF file that includes the signature plus audit trail information. Electronic signatures can be done as a written signature using a tablet (with finger or stylus), or with the customer keying in their name or other phrase in place of their signature, once authenticated.

Macciola referred to their platform as BPM — I always have a bit of trouble categorizing it, and tagged my earlier post with both ACM and capture — but also is using the “digital transaction management” terminology that we heard from Bish in this morning’s keynote, which includes inbound content processing (mobile, web, multi-channel, transformation), process orchestration (dynamic case management), process intelligence, information integration, and outbound customer communications management (content creation, e-signature and signature verification).

This was followed by a presentation by Thomas Knapp, SVP/CIO of Waterstone Mortgage, on how they are planning to use Kofax Mortgage Agility integrated with their Ellie Mae mortgage origination system, providing both the branch employee and customer experience. There are a lot of challenges with mortgage origination, in terms of data completeness and quality, customer experience and time sensitivity due to purchase closing deadlines. In the US, due to the involvement of mortgage-based securities in the financial meltdown a few years ago, there are a lot of new compliance rules that Waterstone needs to enforce along the way. They are also dealing with the rise of millennials in the generation of borrowers and their familiarity with technology (although there are many of us who are a lot older who also want an online, paperless experience), and need to have a consistent online experience for the entire mortgage lifecycle, not just origination. They are a “lighthouse” (early/beta) client for Mortgage Agility, and are just launching a beta version of their application this month, with a full rollout later in 2015; they are seeing challenges with the branch employees and their comfort with the technology as well as the technology itself. However, they expect this to be a true game changer for them, increasing operational efficiencies, saving time, boosting productivity, minimizing costs, and identifying opportunities for improvements and increased revenues. He summarized their expected benefits in terms of market, technology, loan process flow and compliance, with a great deal of automation as well as improving the customer experience. Good plans, although it will be critical to see the success of their rollout as it occurs.

We finished up the analyst briefing with a panel of Kofax executives: Reynolds Bish (CEO), Jamie Arnold (CFO), Howard Dratler (EVP sales) and Grant Johnson (CMO). From the Q&A, it’s clear that TotalAgility is still in the early stages of rollout to actual production environments with customers and partners, and their license deal for KTA discussed in this morning’s keynote is a way to nudge customers towards it. This will be a factor in Kofax’s success, since long-term support of the legacy products will eventually become a drag on technology resources and impact revenue and productivity. There was quite a bit of discussion about new sales teams and partner programs to better sell KTA as well as sales of some of the acquired products that are still offered on a standalone basis; as with other vendors, they are always looking to shorten the sales cycle as well as grow the sales pipeline based on the enhanced product portfolio. They are also actively working to expand their customer base beyond financial services, which has been their mainstay, although they continue to focus on banking as a key vertical with lots of opportunities for expansion within current customers with their mobile, e-signature and customer communication management products. Netflix is one of their high-profile customers in a new market segment, although it appears that they are relying primarily on their partner channel for approaching other verticals. In response to a question about cloud strategy, Bish stated that they see limited demand for (public) cloud because of the nature of the data being transmitted, which delayed the first cloud version of KTA to less than a year ago; although they have a bit of cloud exposure through their Kapow acquisition, they’ve been slow to market on this. They are seeing some demand from smaller companies that can’t afford the on-premise infrastructure, plus some incremental (rather than replacement) use cases within their existing large customer base for rolling out solutions more quickly than can be done internally.

We break for lunch now, and I have some spare time to hit a couple of the regular breakout sessions (or the pool) before a CEO roundtable later this afternoon.