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Intelligent data capture: a trend only beginning Part 2

This article appears in the issue October 2006, [Vol 15, Issue 9]
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Datacap reports 50 to 60 customers using the IDC/IDR capability, out of a customer base of approximately 350. The firm is particularly active in the public and healthcare market sectors and has about 35 resellers.

Esker entered the information technology market in 1985 as a software consulting company in France. Over the years, it has grown into a worldwide provider of fax and document capture software and host access solutions. Its U.S. offices are based in Wisconsin.

Esker DeliveryWare is a solution that automates the exchange of critical business documents between customers, business partners and suppliers regardless of source, format and destination.

According to Renee Thomas, director of field marketing, "It can route faxes, e-mail, XML documents, print streams, wireless messages and Web content to automate business processes end to end. As an example, we're NetWeaver-certified to format and input data into SAP R/3, regardless of its origin." Esker works with partner Merkur Group for outbound communications from the Oracle Business Suite.

Marking the dynamism of the IDC/IDR market, Esker built meta rules and introduced its dynamic document capture product in March. Esker is working with Whirlpool (whirlpool.com) to take sales orders from faxes to automate the order entry process.

Top Image Systems (TIS), which was founded in 1991, is strongest in Europe and operates internationally, although its research and development is headquartered in Israel. TIS partners include SAP, IBM, Accenture, Atos Origin, Xerox, CACI, Kodak, Unisys and Fujitsu. Some of its larger customers include Armstrong Flooring, FedEx and Gillette. Top Image Systems recently won a contract with Hormel Foods.

Top's eFLOW Unified Content Platform provides a single, end-to-end solution to capture, classify, process, validate and deliver business-critical data lying within incoming documents. eFLOW uses artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and is designed to work with various enterprise resource planning, finance and purchasing systems, allowing organizations to retain and exploit the inherent value in their legacy systems. eFLOW integrates with SAP, Oracle and 170 other business systems, and its customers span a broad range of industries.

"What's different about us? We developed IDR capabilities in our product from the beginning; and all processing of structured and unstructured forms is accomplished in one platform," explains Gideon Shmuel, VP of sales and marketing. "And we use a minimum of four recognition engines on a field level to provide a high recognition rate and eliminate false positives."

Other entrants in to the IDR/IDC market include Banctec, Saperion, Scantron and others--with many more to come. Although automating the accounts payable process was the first application ever to use electronic document imaging [when Andersen Consulting (later called Accenture) implemented a custom system at McDonnell Douglas (later merged with Boeing) in St. Louis almost 20 years ago], the IDC/IDR market is likely less than 10 percent penetrated--which leaves a lot of room for growth. New IDC/IDR capabilities further improve efficiencies by cutting out nearly all manual data entry and intelligently formatting data.

The winners in the IDC/IDR race will be those that have the best relationships with business system vendors like SAP and Oracle; stable, efficient installations; and aggressive marketing efforts. Only time will tell who those winners are.

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