What was your “ah-ha” moment in communicating ECM?

Working in Content Management for over 12 years often times I have found it somewhat difficult to explain what we do and/or sell. Have you?
I have found that who your audience is often dictates how you explain it. To an IT group I have described ECM in terms of storage and retrieval of images in to database/repository with searching capability, ability to apply rules for authentication and accessibility, removing silos of information, ability to do workflow and BPM, and other things like Meta-Data, networks, through-put and HA/DR. Sometimes their eyes gloss over and other times they “understand.”
To some business folks when I’ m talking ECM I most usually reference things like accessibility of their documentation, being able to search on key fields and automatically route work/documents/content without the use of email or paper files (at its simplest form) and its all stored in a database otherwise known as a “repository.” Or, when describing workflow, using the old analogy of a restaurant. When you go in to the establishment a hostess seats you, then you get a menu, a waiter comes up and then you order, that order goes back to the kitchen and you get your meal prepared, then after you have dessert, you get a bill, pay and get a receipt then the bus boy comes and cleans everything up – that’s a workflow.
But what do you say to your mother or father, sister or brother and even children (aka the layman)? I’ve tried things like, “I sell software that lifts information off paper or documents and puts that data in a data base that allows people to find it. Then the people can see the documents on their computer necessary to do their job.” But I still get a ‘blank stare.’
Then one day, maybe three or four months ago, my dad was asking me for his usual P.C. help and he said, “my printer/scanner isn’t reading the words as well as it used to.” Of course, that got my attention! Could my dad know what O.C.R. is? After 12 years of me talking about IBM, FileNet, EMC/Documentum, Microsoft , Captiva, Kofax and AnyDoc and him saying “I still don’t get what you do.” NO WAY! How could my dad possibly know about O.C.R?
So I asked him, “Dad, you know what OCR is?” Guess what, he replied YES! “Its that software that I use when I want to take words off my documents that are PDF or Tiffs”. BAM! He knew! Finally after 12 years he “figured it out” partially what I did for a living. Putting this in context, my dad is an automotive guy, first sales and then executive, who had never a need to do any “computing” most of his professional career.
We have a lot of acronyms in our ECM vocabulary: OCR, ICR, OMR, BPM, OSR, ODAR, HIPI, TIFF, etc etc etc. (I can go on for a lifetime of our acronyms). But what do you say so that IT people get what ECM is? What do YOU say to a business user, who never ever ever thought of this stuff day to day? What do you tell your mom, dad, brother, sister, what you do every day? What have you said that brings blank stares? But, most importantly, what have you said to a customer and then you saw the “light bulb” go off? It appears O.C.R. is making it in to the mainstream vocabulary, if my dad is any example, because he knows his, “HP MFP does OCR.”

So I asked him, “Dad, you know what OCR is?”  Guess what, he replied YES!  “Its that software that I use when I want to take words off my documents that are PDF or Tiffs”.   BAM!  He knew!  Finally after 12 years he “figured it out” partially what I did for a living.  Putting this in context, my dad is an automotive guy, first sales and then executive, who had never a need to do any “computing” most of his professional career.

We have a lot of acronyms in our ECM vocabulary:  OCR, ICR, OMR, BPM, OSR, ODAR, HIPI, TIFF, etc etc etc.  (I can go on for a lifetime of our acronyms).   But what do you say so that IT people get what ECM is?  What do YOU say to a business user, who never ever ever thought of this stuff day to day?  What do you tell your mom, dad, brother, sister, what you do every day?   What have you said that brings blank stares?  But, most importantly, what have you said to a customer and then you saw the “light bulb” go off?  It appears O.C.R. is making it in to the mainstream vocabulary, if my dad is any example, because he knows his, “HP MFP does OCR.”

Document Scanning Best Practices

Document Scanning Best Practices Content Management Systems are one of the most useful resources companies have available to keep their managers, staff, and customers informed. Managing those files effectively is an ongoing challenge, but a well-planned, best practices implementation makes it significantly easier. Most Content Management Systems start with Scanning as the starting point in the lifecycle of any document. The decision of whether to go with a centralized or distributed scanning model must be carefully evaluated to see which may be a better fit for the organization. Many times a hybrid model of both remote and centralized is required and becoming more popular. When it is done designed and implemented correctly scanning ensures that the data stored in the document management repository is valid, readable, secure, accessible, and useful throughout the enterprise. Some important things to remember when deploying document a document scanning system: • Establish clear goals and objectives before you start or deploy a Document Scanning System. • Establish clear and concise business rules around your company’s requirements. • Consult a well established Systems Integrator with the knowledge and expertise to help you with defining “Best Practices for Document Scanning” and always check references. • Understand the nature of your documents, the quality of many documents may be poor, this in turn will require you to use Image Enhancement Technologies that will automatically clean up the document and improve its readability. These types of technologies are a must especially when utilizing OCR or any advanced form of capture. • Scanning and especially the Indexing of documents can be somewhat laborious, so anything to help automate these tasks such as Bar Coding, OCR, database lookups and electronic forms will make life a lot easier. • Use the KISS Principle in dealing with data taxonomy and avoid capturing too many fields, but make sure it’s enough to do valuable searches. Here at ImageSource we try to have 10 document types maximum and 8 data fields which allows for effective searches, retrieval and reporting. Lastly, don’t lose sight of your short and long term goals, do your homework and study your documents and see how they fit into your business lifecycle and corporate governance. Talk with people throughout you organization and get their input to better understand your documents are used. Finally, if you’re unsure get help, this is not an area where you can afford a mistake. Remember, it all starts with getting information into the system. Bob Garrido Senior Account Executive ImageSource

Looking for an Oracle IPM replacement?

You have hundreds of thousands, maybe tens of millions, of documents in your old Oracle IPM 10g system with only 6 months before Oracle closes the support door on that product forever. Or maybe you’re running an Optika Acorde or Stellent IBPM system which has been out of support for years. You’ve looked at the new Oracle 11g platform and it’s too heavy, complex, and missing many key capabilities that you need, features like: external searching with Linked Servers, COLD support, Office and .NET integration points, easy setup and maintenance, and a workflow system that is actually usable for someone without a PhD. Oracle is clearly, and publically, going in a different direction and moving away from traditional enterprise imaging and transactional content management.

And even if you knew of an appropriate replacement technology, how are you going to migrate all of that content out of IPM without disrupting your business? What product vendor is going to know enough about your old IPM system to be able to get the content , applications, saved searches, workflows and profiles moved to their platform? Oh, and you don’t want simply to replacement on product for another – you want a good return on this migration investment!

ImageSource has been delivering and servicing Optika Acorde, Stellent IBPM, and Oracle IPM systems for nearly 20 years (don’t get me started on eMedia!). We recognized Oracle’s change in direction several years ago and have created the perfect replacement solution for the retiring 10g product. The ILINX suite offers the same content management capabilities as IPM but goes way beyond that. In fact, ILINX is more powerful, easier to deploy, use, and maintain, with better scalability, 100% browser-based, built-in retention management, more secure, free mobile clients, cloud-ready, built on the latest Microsoft technologies.. I could go on and on.

Check it out for yourself at www.ilinx.com

Join the dozens of other Oracle IPM customers that have made the easy switch to a better, more powerful ILINX solution!

Randy Weakly
VP of Software Development
ImageSource, Inc.

Distributed Capture & Document Capture

Distributed Capture & Document Capture

Capture is only a part of the ECM universe, but a crucial part nonetheless. Once a document is captured into an Enterprise Content Management system, it must be stored, perhaps put into a workflow process, archived, and made available for retrieval. Retrieval is in many ways the main thrust of an ECM system (no point putting it in there if you can’t ever see it again); retrieval is dependent on the index values associated it with it, which brings us back to capture.

Capture is the process of getting documents (and their data) into the system. Distributed Capture is the mechanism by which documents from a variety of locations (near and far) enter the system. The easiest way to do this is to utilize the file system. When different offices (or locations — work from home, anyone?) of a company are on the same network, specific locations on the shared file system can be designated for various purposes. Different directories can be used to input different kinds of documents.

I thought we were going to be paperless by now

This type of taxonomy works okay for existing electronic documents (Word files, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc); but what about hard-copy? The seemingly ubiquitous paper which exists in our so-called paperless office? Well, it needs to be scanned in. You want documents classified in a consistent manner, and the metadata (index values and other interesting info about the document) as accurate and as consistent as possible.

Consistency is key. When setting up a company-wide ECM system, it is a a key success indicator that everybody to follow the same set of procedures and guidelines involved in getting documents into the system. This can be accomplished by having a distributed capture system available.

The company I work for makes and sells a distributed capture system today. As we go through our roadmap discussions for where we want to take the product to solve customers’ future problems, we developers have have to grapple with some fundamental issues, mainly, what is the best technology to use as a platform.

It’s easy to imagine using the web to provide distributed document capture throughout your enterprise. You have centrally managed web servers. Everyone has a web browser on their computer (and cell phone, for that matter). In fact, anyone who’s ever attached a document using an html-based email program has already exercised the base technology necessary for a distributed capture system. One key advantage of Distributed Capture is that you get rid of paper at the source; take a moment to think about the implications of that. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

What else is needed…
There are two main improvements to simply uploading a document by way of a web page. One is the acquisition of the paper document, the other is the user-experience and business process to build into the hosting program. I’ll go into the physical acquisition in a later post, but the user-experience of a distributed capture system has to provide two things to be successful. It must be Dead Simple to Use and it must provide the functionality necessary to get good data into the system.

Our checking with users shows again and again that a single button is an attractive interface, with more functionality exposed as needed. One key question developers raise is what technology to build the interface in?

Technology Pros Cons
HTML Standards compliant, supported by all browsers. Primarily a static user interface. AJAX can add some Zing to the interface, but is problematical in certain situations (back-button, anybody?)
Flash Ubiquitous; Flash player in something like 90% of all browsers. Began life as an animation scripting language, although ActionScript 3.0 is more sophisticated. IDE support is poor. Hard to get my head wrapped around the timeline model.
Silverlight Microsoft integration and toolset. Microsoft has an army of developers working on tools and technologies; big changes in how Microsoft handles internet computing are emerging. Current market adoption is a little slow. Microsoft talks the big talk about cross-platform now, but has a history of embracing, extending, then co-opting technology (in my opinion)
JavaFX Ubiquitous. Many very good VM’s out there. Java itself is well suited to backend, server-side development. UI is not Java’s strong-suit; AWT ring a bell?
Platform Specific Code Leverage native functionality, look and feel. Lots of code bases to implement and maintain. Cross-platform toolkits and libraries tend to dumb-down the functionality to the lowest-common denominator.

I’m sure anybody reading this has ideas of their own about the pros and cons of the platforms listed out, and perhaps other ideas to add to the list. I welcome your comments.

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