Visiting Docville – October 2014

Now already a tradition we just had the fifth meeting of Docville in Brussels this week. Docville is a networking & exchange initiative for executives from the international Information Management ecosystem (Capture, ECM, BPM, BI and BPO), organized and facilitated by Michael Ziegler. Docville now has more than 1100 members on LinkedIn. This group connects regularly to exchange their experiences on advances in technology and the trends in the market. This year Skilja for the first time was one of the sponsors of the event.

As usual the discussions, held at roundtables, were divided between market, marketing aspects and technical topics. For me – as a techie – the most relevant discussions were held around:

  • Smart Process Apps (SPA) and intelligent BPMS (iBPMS)– are they really the savior for the future?

  • Next Generation Document Service BPOs- From Back-File Conversion to Lucrative Document Process Automation

  • AP Automation in the Cloud –now that this is a reality, what are the challenges?

  • Moving from On-Premise Software to Cloud Services: The Impact on the IM-Software Vendors’ Business

  • Mobile Apps, Devices and Content in a Mobile Work Environment

  • The Changing Face of Document Capture and the Value Proposition

  • Auto-Classification Demystified or The End of Manual Indexing

As you can easily see the hot topics are (surprise!) mobile/cloud and document automation. The latter you might remember was also reflected in my recent post “Technology Everywhere” that featured a corresponding Gartner study.

Interestingly enough nobody was really interested in AP automation any more. In fact some of the participants actually didn’t even want to discuss it or use it as an example. Not because it is not big business opportunity – but because it is now self evident. It is clear that it can be done, how it is done and who is doing it. What a development over the last five years! Of course now everybody is looking for a similar opportunity to package a solution. The hot candidate is HR.

Especially the BPOs are looking for new opportunities to create new offerings for their customer and in general to convert themselves from scan services to real business process outsourcers. Everybody wants to go up the value chain. And with the maturing software this is possible – remains to convince the customers.

Auto-Classification and automation was discussed widely with a general agreement that we are entering main stream with this technology. After the pioneering years (starting 15 years ago) it is now generally accepted that human cognitive tasks can and should be automated. And not only in mailroom automation but in a variety of other areas where our software can take over the categorization and decision making. And it was agreed that this is best provided on a component level by specialized plugins from technology providers, so the vendors can focus on the actual solutions for their customers. Very similar to the way OCR has evolved just 10 years earlier.

Another interesting aspect was the discussion about cloud enablement. The acceptance of cloud services in Europe seems to be close to zero. Whether this is due to security concerns or fears of data loss nobody knows for sure. But you need to be cloud enabled as a vendor (checkbox feature) – even if nobody then buys it. The Nordic countries seem to be more willing to use the new offering. Also customers obviously still want to buy the software (CAPEX) instead of renting it (OPEX). Also surprising but came out as the result of a quick survey we did. This shows nicely how different the view of analysts can be from the actual reality. Although we all expect that the big move to the cloud can happen every day….

You can probably remember more than one event where the most valuable (and pleasant!) moments occurred during  conversations with other attendees during short coffee and lunch breaks, or post-schedule drinks. In these interactions sometimes the most valuable information and opinions are gained and exchanged. This is especially true for Docville where these conversations continued over good food and drinks until late in the night in the bar in Brussels.

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