Resuscitate Your Capture: Bringing New Life to Document Automation

Document Capture Automation

Adding The Next Generation of Document Capture Automation

Over the past decade, the document capture industry has become quite stagnant and ripe for disruption.   The acquisition of just about every capture company by larger, behemoth organizations has created a stagnation in innovation and a lack of modernization.   IT executives are yearning for a refresh to their legacy capture solutions, and they expect standards of the modern tech world:

  • Service/Platform based architecture
  • Web/browser-based user interfaces
  • Web services APIs
  • Cloud-enabled technologies

With that said, many organizations have made massive investments in document capture technology, and a “rip and replace” strategy comes with a serious impact to business operations.   But there can be exponential benefits to a modernization of document automation and capture technologies.  This comes from key new developments from innovative capture startups:

  • Machine Learning – in the legacy capture world, long expensive services engagements are the norm, with deep custom development and configuration.  Isn’t it 2016?  Aren’t computers supposed to take that pain away with intelligence?  In steps machine learning.  The modern capture platform provides a core learning engine that understands your documents, their layouts and data.  As you use the system, it gets smarter, improving accuracy and reducing user intervention, with a true end goal of autonomous operations.
  • Capture Web Services – providing capture functionality to any application in the organization can be a huge boost to efficiency and productivity.  Want a customer document upload page to validate the uploaded documents are of the correct type?  Need check the date of a document, or that it has been signed?  Document capture services can give your development teams a tool set they have never had in the past.
  • Document Analytics and Analysis – taking a holistic view of the whole document capture process is essential to the modern capture platform.  Seeing the document as pure words will not further understanding, nor provide additional benefit.  With a true Analytics/Analysis frame of mind, every single characteristic of the document becomes important: font, font size, location, surrounding words and overall layout (for a deep look at the facets of document analytics, see my previous post: Document Analytics and Capture ).
  • Open Architecture – Having a capture platform that has been built from the ground up with openness and extensibility  in my mind is absolutely critical.  Adding this as an afterthought creates a clunky difficult environment for developers, and leads to workarounds and lack of desired functionality.

The great benefit here, is that without a “rip and replace” event, modern capture platforms can be added as a non-disruptive, transparent automation and efficiency layer.

Capture Epi-center Solution
Modern Capture Adding Efficiency and Automation At the Epicenter

By adding a centralized capture engine, you can glean the following benefits:

  • Any scanning device becomes an input device
  • BPM and Workflow systems can take advantage of capture with minimal dev (See an example here: Notes From the Field)
  • Services like fax and email can easily be designated as a source for capture
  • Legacy capture processes with bar code sheets and manual data entry can be automated
  • Mobile devices can now leverage mobile capture SDKs and the centralized automation engine
  • Legacy ECM systems now have a new automation dimension
  • Cloud-based enterprise services can be capture-enabled

So a tech refresh on the capture front becomes a viable initial project, and current capture components can be left in place.  In this case, Ephesoft becomes a new layer of automation and a catalyst for process improvement and efficiency.

This has been a consistent theme in our experience out in the market, with existing legacy capture customers and new prospects looking for a minimal impact refresh for their ailing and aged capture infrastructures.  Thoughts?  Comments?


6 Modern Capture Platform Requirements

Document Capture Services

2.0 Document Capture Core

The document capture industry has seen a transformation over the last 3 or so years, and a migration to providing Capture as a Platform (CaaP) or Capture as a Service (CaaS).  If you look at Enterprise Capture Platforms, they typically have a core set of features that provide not only product-based functionality, but also platform APIs to integrate, extend and allow usage at the application level.  Here are critical features every platform must provide:

  1.  A Web User Interface – Let’s face it, for any application today, a fully functional web interface is an absolute requirement, and document capture is no exception.  The web provides simplicity for IT, and removes installation headaches and support pain.   It also gives end users an easy way to launch the application from anywhere, on any device.  The UI should provide not only end-user functionality, but also administrative capabilities.
  2.  Cloud and On-premise – With many organizations looking to streamline IT and move core services to the cloud, all Capture 2.0 platforms must have a true, dedicated cloud offering.  Cloud enabled platforms can provide services to other cloud-based apps (like Salesforce and O365) without alteration of on-premise security or infrastructure.
  3. A Learning Engine – the days of extensive manual configuration are long gone, and a core learning engine within the capture platform drives ease of setup, and agility when changes need to be made.  Classification of documents should be as easy as a quick drag and drop into the learning engine for auto-configuration.
  4. Extensive Web Services API – The power of any platform is to provide a standardized processing engine to perform specific related tasks.   With a capture platform, the ability to perform just about any document processing task through the API is a must.  Some examples: passing a document for classification, creating OCR text for a passed image and extracting key metadata from a document.   For an example of an extensive Capture Platform Services API, see Epehsoft’s Capture Web Services.
  5. Mobile Client and SDK – with the rise of mobile, there is demand within organizations to enable mobile solutions.  Any capture platform should have a mobile client, as well as an extensive SDK, including on-board OCR capabilities.
  6. Analytics Engine and BI – Going beyond the basics of reporting, document analytics a new hot topic within the capture industry.  How can you parse your unstructured document repositories, and extract meaning from all types of files?  The answer is document analytics.  Your capture platform should have all the plumbing for analytics, or have an add-on engine to enable this area of functionality.

Obviously, there are many more areas we could cover: Linux and Windows support, clustering capabilities, and on and on.  But in my opinion, these core areas are a must.  Thoughts?  Did I miss any?