Decentralized Scanning: Evolving Thought

Doctors, for a long time, assumed our brains (like so many other complex machines) had a “top down” structure for how we process and store data. Historically, medical scholars thought that there must have been an overpowering component within the brain (hippocampus) that would call on certain brain neurons for information. If you needed to recall when your wedding anniversary was, the hippocampus would call on neuron 56352.2, for example. If it needed to recall how to jump start your car battery, it would call neuron 7362.3. To prove this theory, doctors in the 60’s hooked up test subjects to various sensory equipment and would ask them a series of questions. They thought, if you asked the test subjects certain things, very specific neurons would fire. So, they began monitoring these specific neurons in the brain… And they wound up waiting and waiting and waiting. Unfortunately for the doctors, instead of a neat, logical correlation between particular memories and particular neurons, they found a hodgepodge of neurons being called. With each question, many different neurons lit up… What was going on?? Surely, memories resided in a specific location in the brain. As much as doctors wanted to find a hierarchy in the brain, it just didn’t exist.

Eventually, doctors began to realize that various memories were actually stored across numerous parts of the brain. At first, scientists thought this theory to be somewhat primitive and disorganized. As counterintuitive as they thought this might be, this brain model theory would make one’s memories far more resilient. In the old model, if the specific brain neuron was damaged, we’d have lost that memory forever. With the more modern understanding, however, the loss of a single brain neuron doesn’t amount to a sudden vanishing of data.

Within the business world (very much like our brains), we constantly try to find hierarchal structure when building companies and organizing business processes. In my review of how companies around the world are adapting within this highly competitive landscape, more and more operations are decentralizing various processes and procedures. They are accommodating new consumer expectations, as opposed to forcing the centralized “brick and mortar” approach to work. The older centralized approach ultimately has become too slow, too costly, and too inconvenient for this modern fast pace demanding and competitive economy. This model creates a single point of failure, which can be detrimental in the grand scope of a business. In the world of imaging (or information capture), more organizations are placing their ingestion gateways out on the web, or simply closer to the consumers themselves. Take a look at the Wikipedia, Ebay or Craigslist business models. Why burden the consumer with complex ordering processes and procedures? Why not empower them with a “24/7” means of ordering services, on their whim or demand? For banks, more new and existing customers are opening accounts online, and more loans are being executed right away as a result of branches being able to capture critical consumer information in “real time”. An insurance adjuster with a hand held capture device like an iPhone can snap a picture in the field and deliver that content directly to a claim file instantaneously. The demands placed on business in this technology age are unmerciful. Business practices should strive to meet the consumer’s needs at new levels and understanding “how” to do this via technology is a step in the right direction. It is possible to utilize all of our business “neurons”. We can branch out and capture more data and accomplish more of our goals.

Just like neuroscience, we need to evolve our thinking in the world of business operations. Distributed Capture, or providing consumers a simple means to interact and request services or products, is the not the wave of the future… It is the demand of the present.

Ed Figueroa
ImageSource, Inc.

Process Improvements – Leveraging Technology – Content Store

 

ILINX® – Content Store

Simple, Easy, Efficient –

Imagine having information at your fingertips.

The power of a piece of paper?   Often what you need to get your job done exists on a “piece of paper” somewhere other than your very own desk.   Think back to life before working in the Document Imaging world and the amount of time wasted trying to gather information. If that was true for me, even in very high tech companies, imagine how it is for others.    Often the things we need to access are very similar between companies and industries.   We all need access to customer information: invoices, P.O’s, shipping information, approval documentation, etc. etc.

ILINX Content Store provides one place to keep this information and a searching capability  similar to a “google” search for your internal documents.  It is truly one of the most user friendly efficient software that I have seen.   How do you make a decision to begin turning the paper in to “less paper?”   Without a doubt in the long run it will save you time and money.   Two things every company can have more of!

Geetha French
Inside Sales
ImageSource 

Why a good ECM Integrator is important?

I am a big fan of HGTV, especially one particular show “Holmes on Homes.”  For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is about a general contractor who is on a crusade to weed out bad contractors who take short cuts when performing the job they were hired to do. Because the “bad contractors” took short cuts and didn’t do the job right in the first place, they created more problems over and above those which they were originally hired to fix in the first place. “Doing it Right the First Time” has become the mantra of the show.

By now, you may be asking yourself what one of my favorite TV shows has to do with ECM…well, frankly, everything. After 43 years in the computer industry and having worked in many aspects both in the technical and sales side of the business, it will still continue to amaze me that I see as many failed implementations as I do.

The sad part is that it does not have to be if customers would take more care in the evaluation process and place more focus on the integrator who understands solutions and less on the software vendor who provides a tool.

First let’s define an expert. An “expert” is someone who does 12 things, 12 thousand times, not 12 thousand things 12 times.  A good integrator is just that, they are” good” and can be an asset to the customer looking to implement any ECM solution.  Many times a customer will focus on the software vendor to provide this expertise. Software vendors sell software. The problem with this is the software vendor is interested in selling their software or selling you additional software and possibly ignoring the fact you already have what you need or supplying you with the incorrect software for the solution you need.

I have witnessed this many times and to say it can create a messy situation is quite an understatement.  In one such case, the customer purchased well over a million dollars in software, but the software vendor and his reseller never understood the requirements of the implementation and certain costly components were left out of the solution. Worse yet, false expectations were set for the customer regarding professional services and implementation costs.

How does this happen? First and foremost, neither the software vendor or reseller had any actual experience with ECM nor the costs associated with implementation. Neither understood the solutions requirements and they purposely deflated the services costs fearing they would jeopardize the software sale. Using an “expert” integrator would have provided the necessary solution, protected the customers’ interests and a positive experience would have been the outcome for the customer.

Another unfortunate circumstance we all share is the state of our economy. Economic times like the one we find ourselves in have a way of bringing out all kinds of new so called “experts.”  In this environment the customer must make sure they are able to separate “the contenders from the pretenders”.

I am a firm believer you get what you pay for. It continually irritates me to see a customer pay for the same real estate multiple times because they hired someone unqualified to implement their solution.  Following a few simple steps can prevent this from happening.

  • Remember the definition of an expert
  • Check  multiple references
  • Ask for a list of customers with similar solutions and have honest and open conversations with these customers about their experiences
  • Beware of the integrator who tells you they can have someone on site in just a couple of days to begin work. Any integrator worth working with will be worth the wait.  An expert integrator will typically have a 30 – 90 day interval before project start date.
  • You get what you pay for

Bob Garrido
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

The Power of Partnerships

Working with other companies and their staff to deliver a product and service to a customer can be an enlightening experience.  I have recently been working with 4 of the top leading scanner manufacturer partners to assist a healthcare customer with their distributed capture initiative-with the evaluation and the purchase of 160 desktop scanners for capturing patient intake information.

The customer evaluated the 4 manufacturers’ desktop scanners. A number of factors influenced the healthcare customer on their decision to work with ImageSource and to purchase the following scanner evaluated:

  • The ease of use of the scanner equipment and software
  • Availability of the manufacturer’s sales person and sales engineer to be on-site to install the scanner, the numerous conference calls to answer questions that unfolded due to the testing of the scanner and every question was treated with utmost importance.
  • The attention to detail by both ImageSource and manufacturer to modify the demonstration of  the scanner and that the scanner software solved a number of their various documentation challenges (for example – the patient intake documentation varies is size, thickness and also includes plastic cards)
  • The high level of thorough communication between ImageSource and manufacturer (In the customer’s eyes it seemed they were working with one company, not two!)

The greatest learning experience and also the most important factor that made this a stress-free process was the level of trust that was initiated, grown and experienced by all parties involved;

  • From the customer perspective: Working with two teams from different companies- it did not matter who they called (whether it be ImageSource or the manufacturer), they received the same high level of service from both companies. Both companies kept each other informed of the conversations etc. they had with the healthcare customer, therefore alleviating any miscommunications or misunderstandings.
  • From the Reseller vendor (ImageSource) perspective: The high level of communication and interaction with the manufacturer’s sales team created a streamlined cohesive focus to ensure the customer received what they REALLY required from a scanner.
  • From the Manufacturer perspective: Being able to rely on a vendor partner that has the knowledge, expertise in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and initiative to go the extra step – to focus on how to solve the customer’s challenges, not just sell a scanner. It gave us the manufacturer room to really excel in presenting how the scanner and software was the solution to the customer’s challenges.

It is refreshing to experience this unique partnership among the customer, vendor and manufacturer. And I know from all involved, that it set the stage for a high level of expectation in the future opportunities to do business together. This experience reminds me of this quote I saw recently:

“If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail.” Winston Churchill

Megan Lane
Inside Sales
ImageSource, Inc.

Utopia ECM

Utopia ECM (Enterprise Content Management) can be defined many different ways.  My definition is when the ECM system is so intertwined with the business process and business software applications that one really can’t exist without the others.  The users of the systems don’t even think about the fact that they are using ECM technology. Here are some examples:

  1. The sales rep submitting an expense report and scanning their receipts into an electronic workflow, doesn’t even think of the technology that they are using to start a business process.
  2. Traveling executives can retrieve, review and approve invoices and expenses from their laptop computer in a hotel room anywhere there is an internet connection.
  3. The employee on the order fulfillment line pulls up the supporting documents for the order details and instructions directly from their business application, but the source of documents were really from an integrated ECM system.

Remember how things like this used to happen without imaging, document management, workflow and system integration?
This concept of Utopia ECM became very apparent to me recently in an upgrade and migration project for an existing customer who is moving from an antiquated ECM application to ILINX.  It made me actually stop and wonder how they went from the simple concept of creating an electronic file cabinet, to a system that is virtually integrated into every department and many of their business processes throughout the company.  What I found out is that they took things one step at a time and have been sticklers about the following: 1) You get what you plan for, not what you pay for and 2) select vendor/supplier partners who have your best interests at heart.  The rest is just details.

Utopia ECM, isn’t that what we all want for our businesses?

John Smetana
VP, ILINX ECM Sales
ImageSource, Inc.

Building an ECMEcosystem™

The goal of any Enterprise Content Management initiative should be to provide business value that aligns with the overall business strategy of your organization. Our goal with our customer engagements is to help them become more operationally sound by implementing application solutions which enable our customers to serve their customers better. We recognize that the four most important aspects of any business are:

  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Business Processes
  • Business Content

The last three on the list service the first one and if a company’s customers are dealt with in an effective manner that company will grow and prosper and everyone will share in the rewards of that effort.

Over the last 17 years, the biggest challenge we’ve seen our customers and potential customers face is figuring out where to begin in initiating content and process related projects. It is for that reason that we have developed the ECMEcosystem™ methodology and service offering to help eliminate the complexity associated with that task. The objective of our ECMEcosystem service offering is to provide your organization with a road map outlining the hi-value content and processes that either drive revenue or incur cost so that you can make the most informed decision on which projects to initiate first and how to go about executing those projects.

The final report we generate from our ECMEcosystem engagement will outline current processes and also provide recommendations for improvement based on industry best practices and benchmarking, a business case is also included which is almost always necessary for ECM project justification. The final document can be used to identify which departments and processes to target for operational improvement first and / or used as a Request for Proposal (RFP) template to engage software and services vendors.

Cass Holloway
VP, Oracle Solution Sales
ImageSource, Inc.

One-Hit Wonders in Enterprise Content Management

Defining Enterprise Content Management One-Hit Wonders

As I go about my every day sales and business development activities to evangelize ImageSource’s ILINX Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software products, I am amazed to see just how common it is for the originally installed ECM software system to be pretty much unchanged.  The use case is the same (e.g. Accounts Payable, Human Resources, Customer Service, etc.) and the system is used by mostly the same people.  Maybe a new application was implemented for Accounts Receivables, but by and large it is still the same system.  In some cases, the software has been up updated only once or twice, the scanners are original, the servers and workstations in use are running older operating systems and databases and the system might still be using a juke box for archival purposes.  This is very similar to what one might call in the music business, a one-hit wonder.  If you were to ask people in the music business, they would say a one-hit wonder is a very common tale.  And, so it seems that we have the same thing happening in businesses when it comes to Enterprise Content Management.

How did we get here?

What I have observed is that enterprise content management has become pervasive; however, it is actually a series of one-hit wonders.  Meaning it is managed and implemented differently by department and/or line-of-business.  For example, the  Accounts Payable department might use the originally installed ECM system, but the Marketing department uses nested shared folders on the network that also requires one to name the files in a certain manner; the Engineering department might be using some document management module that comes with their engineering software, but for imaged engineering drawings they go to the ECM system the Accounts Payable department uses; and the sales department had their CRM software integrated with a different ECM software application that is “cloud based”, as well as, they have become masters at using their network attached multi-function printer (a.k.a. MFP) to scan-to-email and ad-hoc scanning for imaging.  And, when things don’t work as they are expected to or malfunctions, the information technology department is supposed to pick up the pieces, work some magic (and fast) and “ta-dah” everything is back in working order.

What needs to change?

So how did we get to the point where we have so many different ways to image, file, store, retrieve and process documents and content in our businesses?  More importantly, what can be done about it to improve the situation to drive out duplication, increase efficiency and lower operating costs and risks?  First of all, let’s cover how we got here or better yet, what needed to happen first keeping in mind there is no one to really blame.  A large part of why businesses have not centered their businesses on a single ECM software system is that some evolution needed to take place.  First and foremost, the ECM applications themselves had to evolve from client-server and thick clients to be being truly web-based built on Web 2.0 technology and architecture; it is important to note that not every ECM software company has taken this step.  Secondly, the internet had to become as pervasive as the telephone (land line and/or mobile) and the bandwidth to support business use.  Thirdly, the ECM applications had to become less specialized in just performing one thing, such as, imaging, web content management, digital asset management, etc.  Fourth, the computing platform from which we access the information had to become a non-factor; this means that I can access my information from any device:  a PC workstation in the office, a laptop in a hotel, a tablet device like the Apple iPad and/or a smartphones.  Lastly, the investment of ECM software systems needed to scale to based upon the size of the business to actually be affordable and cost-effective which has largely not been a reality.

A new reality is possible today!

It is from ImageSources’ collective experiences of its employees and the 17 years of being in the Enterprise Content Management business that it can confidently and successfully assist companies and organizations of all types create a new paradigm.   Simply put, we make it possible to take disparate ways and systems of managing documents and content into a single system that serves every department and line-of-business of the enterprise.  It first starts with making document capture so simple and so accessible from any device.  ILINX Capture works with any TWAIN compliant scanner and can be configured to work with virtually any network attached multi-function printer (MFP).  ILINX Capture Mobile and the ILINX Tablet make it possible to capture documents and content in the palm of your hand.  ILINX Content Store  is ideally positioned for those companies that need a complete, full functioning, user pleasing and straight-forward approach to Enterprise Content Management.  It must also have the option to be integrated with business applications (ILINX Integrate) and does not burden the IT department with system management and administration tasks.  Mainly because it is built on Microsoft’s .NET web-based architecture; therefore, updates, changes and new applications can be deployed from a single-administration console and users can receive those updates via their intranet or internet.  If the existing content, documents, images and data in your current “dot.90’s” ECM system is a concern for you, ImageSource has the services and the tools (ILINX Export) to make this all important and critical step of migrating your information into ILINX Content Store.  The remaining question that you might have is this:  is it really affordable and cost-effective to consolidate disparate ways and systems, migrate the information and implement a new ECM software system?  And my answer to that is, “ImageSource’s approach and ILINX has proven to be so for many others, I have no reason why to think the same is possible for you and your company!”