Friday, October 30, 2009

Countering the Content Conundrum

Posted by Mark Brousseau

In the article below, Bruce Sharpe of JustSystems takes structured content to the enterprise, showing how it can solve problems most people didn’t know could be fixed, problems that we all have if we work with content.

Have you ever spent hours poring over a document to ensure accuracy and inclusion of all edits made to earlier versions? Have you — or has your company — ever suffered consequences from taking content written for an internal audience and using it for sales or marketing — without thoroughly vetting it for external use?

No matter the department — HR, sales, marketing, legal, administration, etc. — many of you find that kind of content pain to be an unavoidable fact of work life, standard operating procedure. Unaware of a better way to create and manage content, you suck it up. Well, you can stop sucking because there is a better way, and that way is structured content — documents that have been chunked into meaningful component parts and tagged in a systematic fashion.

While it remains one of the best-kept enterprise secrets, structured content has long proven its value in technical communications where it mitigates risks, reduces costs, and increases revenues. Better still, the road to mature, standards-based structured content has been paved by organizations such as IBM and OASIS and standards such as DITA. Now, it’s time for other enterprise functions to realize the same benefits associated with structured content.

In brief, structured content brings organization and automation to content. Structured content lets content creators efficiently create, collaborate, manage and reuse high volumes of information, which can be repurposed into the languages and formats your customers demand.

The result? Organizations accelerate the cost-effective delivery of accurate information products — whether those products are for internal or external consumption, e.g., sales RFPs, marketing brochures, HR forms, legal contracts or any other department’s content.

So, what does structured content look like in the enterprise? It depends where you look.

In research & development, you can use structured content to create and manage engineering documents, technical publications, and strategy and planning documents. Here, structured content can help increase revenues by improving the ability of key employees, partners and vendors to share and discover documents, resulting in faster time to market for new products.

Meanwhile, costs can be reduced through content repurposing and reuse, which eliminates the duplication and re-creation of existing content. And structured content can mitigate R&D risk, for instance, helping companies avoid noncompliance, and improve customer satisfaction by ensuring the consistent use of authoritative content in product documentation.

In manufacturing, contracts, manufacturing operations, standard operating procedures and regulated documents all benefit from structured content. Revenue growth can come from streamlined creation of contracts and agreements, ultimately accelerating time to revenue. Cost reductions may be seen in reduced rework, recall and aftermarket service costs otherwise caused by inaccurate information in manufacturing documents. Risk can be mitigated by reducing the risk of inaccurate or inconsistent contracts, and by reducing the risk of human error associated with reviewing one-of-a-kind, complex legal documents.

In sales and marketing, structured content can be applied to sales and marketing collateral as well as contact center documents. The revenue opportunities in the sales and marketing department include developing a reusable library of proven RFPs and content to improve win rates. That reusable library also helps to reduce the costs of goods sold by reducing the time and costs associated with developing proposals and business correspondence. Predefined, reusable content components with approved language and standard terms and conditions mitigate risks by ensuring the accuracy of contracts and legally binding agreements.

In service and support, you can use structured content for maintenance and repair, technical support and training documents. To increase revenues, you could increase aftermarket sales through maintenance and repair operations supported with structured content. Cost reductions may be realized through content reuse, which reduces editorial and publishing costs. Structured content helps mitigate the risk of noncompliance and potentially catastrophic equipment failure by ensuring personnel have consistent, up-to-date maintenance and repair information.

In corporate administration, structured content can benefit legal and regulatory, human resources, and finance and operations documents. Revenue growth can come from improving the ability to discover patents and IP documentation for ongoing growth and protection of revenue streams. Cost savings may be realized by reducing redundant editorial and publishing costs, which lowers the cost of publishing and maintaining standard documents. Finally, structured content can help reduce the risks of errors during the review process and through regulatory filings, demonstrating that you have compliance policies in place.

Clearly, these are just a few of many examples in which structured content can benefit the organization. The important takeaway is that you don’t have to live with your current content conundrums. You can relieve the pain and realize significant advantages by embracing structured content, in whatever department you happen to work.

Dr. Bruce Sharpe brings over 25 years of technology leadership experience to JustSystems, including founding XMetaL and HoTMetaL content creation solutions. He held senior technical management positions at MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, Advanced Gravis, SoftQuad Software, Corel, and Blast Radius before successfully bringing XMetaL to JustSystems. Learn more about JustSystems at and contact Bruce at

Thursday, October 29, 2009

iPhone App for Car Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Mercedes-Benz launched an iPhone application that allows customers to make a car payment, calculate the amount needed to pay off the loan, locate dealers and find customer service numbers. The Mercedes-Benz website describes it as the "coolest way to make a payment."

Some people might hear this news and think "we better do something with mobile", but Forrester Research recommends that companies use the POST (People Objective Strategy Technology) method to determine which technologies they deploy. The POST method starts with the P, understanding the People that the company serves and how they use their mobile devices. People fall into six major categories in terms of mobile phone usage. Nineteen percent (Inactives) do not own a mobile phone, 35 percent (Talkers) only use the voice features of their mobile phone and 13 percent (Communicators) use no data service other than text messaging. The next three categories use more features of their mobile phones; categories do overlap. 19 percent (Connectors) send or receive email on their mobile phones but use the mobile Internet less than weekly. Twenty percent (Entertainers) stream music or video and purchase music over their mobile phones. Twelve percent (SuperConnecteds) use the mobile Internet and log onto social networking sites from their mobile phones at least once a week.

Forrester Research says that after they understand the people they are serving, companies can then set their Objectives and determine what Strategy will accomplish their objectives. The final step is then to choose the technology that will enable the company to meet their strategy. The technology decision comes last in the process, not first, warns Forrester.

What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Enterprises Continue to Invest in Social Media

Posted by Mark Brousseau

A second annual survey of companies sponsoring online communities shows signs of increasing maturation as enterprises continue to invest in social media tools and online communities.

According to the survey, conducted by Deloitte, Beeline Labs and the Society for New Communications Research, 94 percent of the respondents indicated that they plan to maintain or increase investment in their communities, while only six percent plan to decrease investment.

However, while enterprises are effectively using these tools to engage with customers, partners and employees for brand discussions and idea generation, the survey also indicates that organizations continue to struggle with harnessing social media’s full potential.

The “2009 Tribalization of Business Survey” evaluates the perceived potential of online communities and identifies how enterprises believe they may better leverage them. The survey measured the responses of over 400 companies, including Fortune 100 organizations, which have created and maintain online communities today. The communities ranged from fewer than 100 members to more than one million members.

“Despite risks associated with participating in online communities, the internal costs of community formation and management, and the fact that we are in the midst of a profound recession, organizations’ continued and enhanced investment in online communities underscores the perceived potential for the value that they may provide to the enterprise,” said Ed Moran, director of product innovation, Deloitte Services LP. “Social media and communities are expected to continue to play a significant role in the way in which companies are interacting with employees, customers, partners and the larger business ecosystem, thereby redefining the very edge of the corporation.”

Of the companies surveyed, a majority agreed that increasing word-of-mouth (38 percent), customer loyalty (34 percent) and brand awareness (30 percent) continue to be the top business objectives of online communities, followed by idea generation (29 percent) and improved customer support quality (23 percent). However, in the majority of companies surveyed, marketing continues to be the primary driver of online communities, resulting in a significant gap between community goals and the organizations’ capability to fully leverage these communities on an enterprise wide basis.

Market Shows Signs of Maturation
Several data points indicate continued maturation of the enterprise’s use of communities and social media. For instance, this year’s survey pointed to an evolution in the way in which companies are tracking and engaging with both active and inactive members. While the number of active users and their level of participation have been considered the top measures of success for an online community, this year survey respondents are paying close attention to non-active users or “lurkers” – people who observe the community, but don’t participate in the discussion.

Thirty-two percent of respondents are capturing data on how these individuals derive value from the community.

Additionally, 20 percent of survey respondents have set up formal “ambassador” programs, which give outsiders preferential treatment in return for being more active in the community.

Thirty-nine percent of the survey respondents also indicated that more full-time people are being deployed to manage the communities.

“While we are seeing signs of maturation in this year's study, there are still plenty of companies who do not realize the power of communities, and others who have not yet figured out the proper approach for leveraging communities as part of their business,” said Francois Gossieaux, partner with Beeline Labs and a senior fellow with the Society of New Communications Research. “Businesses are truly become social again, and companies should look to leverage the collective wisdom of their employees, customers and partners in order to innovate faster, reduce costs, and bolster their bottom lines.”

Rethinking Community Success
According to the survey, the biggest obstacles to creating a successful community – getting people to join (24 percent), stay engaged (30 percent) and keep returning (21 percent) – can be easily remedied through partnering and new management practices. The study indicates that very few companies, however, are taking the steps necessary to overcome these challenges.

While 58 percent of respondents evaluated partnering with existing communities, complementary vendors or end users when developing their community, 55 percent of the companies that evaluated a partnership did not actually partner.

Furthermore, the survey also revealed significant gaps between community goals (such as generating word of mouth, customer loyalty and brand awareness) and how success is being measured. The top two analytics for measuring success are the number of active users (34 percent) and how often people post/comment (32 percent), indicating that participation is still considered to be the biggest measure of success. Potentially more useful analytics, however, such as increase in search engine rank and citations/links on other sites, are less often utilized, highlighting a mismatch between the desired outcome and how that outcome is measured.

“To realize the full benefit of social media and online communities, business leaders must move beyond viewing them as “bolt-ons” to their corporations,” added Moran. “Companies need to integrate the new information flows associated with the communities with those that already exist within their companies. New management strategies and practices will be critical, including redefining the scope and role of alliances as well as the overall boundary of corporations.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Healthcare System Automates AP

By Mark Brousseau

Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) has improved the productivity of its invoice processing by 12 percent by implementing a data capture solution from Kofax, Beverly A. Carling, manager, accounts payable at CHW, said yesterday at Transform 2009, the Kofax Annual Conference, held October 21-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, in San Diego. What’s more, Carling expects productivity to climb further as the organization becomes more experienced with the automated invoice technology. “We are projecting a productivity gain of 25 percent in 2010 compared to 2008,” Carling told attendees.

With the Kofax solution, CHW’s validators can now process 2,100 invoices per day, Carling said. “That’s a lot of transactions,” she said, adding that the organization now has an average of 1-2 days of unprocessed invoices in the queue – far below industry average for AP departments.

CHW is a healthcare system comprised of 41 acute care hospitals and approximately 20 health-related affiliated corporations located in California, Arizona and Nevada.

CHW implemented Kofax Advanced Data Capture earlier this year. It also uses ProcessFlow to manage AP work queues. The implementation of the Kofax technology came as CHW was consolidating its 30 invoice processing facilities, which processed about 1.6 million invoices a year (about a third of which are handled electronically), into two centers located in Sacramento and Phoenix. At the end of the transition, CHW’s invoice volume rose to 1.7 million invoices annually.

“Our goal was to build an AP center of excellence,” Carling said.

The Kofax solution is delivering data capture read accuracy of 80 to 85 percent, Carling explained. “We’re still experiencing some false positives, but we have an action plan in place to address that,” Carling said. “I’m expecting that we’re going to see results of 95 percent.” To eliminate some manual processes, CHW has 75 different AP companies set up in its system – providing the ability to read the name on an invoice and convert it into an AP number. About 65 percent of CHW’s total invoice volume is processed through data capture. “Data capture has helped us standardize what we are putting into the system and reduce the number of manual errors that we may have.” Carling said.

CHW’s results are even more impressive when you consider the complexity of invoice processing. The organization has tens of thousands of vendors, Carling said, and there is no standard of how vendors present the data. “And we don’t really have any leverage to dictate how data is presented.”

But the results are impressive. And additional savings may lie ahead.

“We haven’t been on data capture very long,” Carling said. “We continue to do issues tracking, mostly on the false positive side, and look for ways to improve the quality of the data capture.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kofax Targets Transactional Capture Market

By Mark Brousseau

Watch out ReadSoft – Kofax is coming for you.

“We are second in the transactional capture market, and we intend to be No. 1,” Alan Kerr, the company’s executive vice president of field operations, said during a presentation this morning at Transform 2009, the Kofax Annual Conference, scheduled for October 21-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. “This is where we are going. Everything we do is focused on that.”

Currently, Kofax enjoys a 9 percent market share in the transactional capture market, Kerr said – trailing only ReadSoft. Kofax leads the “All Capture” and “Image Capture” market segments.

Kerr said Kofax continues to spend “a lot of money” on research on development around document-driven business process automation. “We are enterprise ready. This is a consistent, well thought out, deliverable strategy. It’s not a vendor trying to cobble something together,” Kerr told attendees.

It’s little wonder that Kofax would set its sights on the transactional capture market. Kerr noted an IDC study predicting that the document capture market will continue to be one of the stronger growth areas of the content management market over the next five years. He added that despite talk about the “paperless office,” 75 percent of companies use mostly paper-based accounts payable processing. “These solutions are becoming increasingly mission-critical to the enterprises that use them,” he said.

“We’re looking at 9.6 percent growth for the market in which we operate,” Kerr explained. “This is a $2 billion market, driven by the real desire and thirst by end users to automate these processes.”

But even bigger opportunities may lie ahead.

“Just as forms processing and document capture came together to form a more robust market, we think capture will merge with business process automation to form a more robust market,” Kofax CEO Reynolds C. Bish said today. Anticipating this trend, Kofax has changed is corporate mission statement to: “Be the leading provider of document-driven business process automation solutions.”

“This is recognition of the dynamics of the market,” Bish said. “The more we thought about what we did, the more we realized that is was business process automation in a document driven application.”

Kerr describes Kofax as, “the on-ramp to automating business processes.”

Kofax’s biggest -- and most strategic -- move into the transactional capture market was its acquisition this year of 170 Systems, Inc., which expanded Kofax’s vision to include process automation, Bish told attendees this morning. “It was a very important transaction for us in a number of ways.”

“In the invoice processing market, we were at a competitive disadvantage because ReadSoft had the ability provide the complete solution that users were looking for,” Bish said. “We were unable to do that. We had to partner with several vendors.” By acquiring 170 Systems, Kofax can “deliver the complete solution end users expect and desire from a single point of procurement. It addresses a competitive weakness. And it positions us for leadership in the growing invoice processing market.”

Bish noted that most Kofax customers don’t have an invoice processing workflow solution, so Kofax has the opportunity to “take the 170 product and sell it to those customers.” Kerr added that invoice processing represents a “big opportunity” as a large and growing segment of the capture market.

Kofax acquired 170 Systems, Bish said, because it was an acknowledged leader of a manageable size and it supported both SAP and Oracle PeopleSoft. “It also had a flexible platform for automating other financial processes,” he said. “Our plan is to use their platform for other vertical markets.”

In the next nine to 12 months, Kofax will use the 170 Systems platform as a foundation to build a document-driven business process automation solution that breaks down the traditional boundaries between Kofax products – offering a turnkey transactional capture framework for any vertical. For instance, the solution will offer integrated administration and a new pricing model. “The devil is in the details, but this will be a more thoughtful integration,” said Kofax CTO Anthony Macciola.

Macciola said he’s not aware of any other solution on the market that is as packaged or as scalable as the platform that Kofax is building. “The 170 Systems infrastructure is very enterprise-oriented.”

“This is a very natural evolution for us,” Bish said. “If we’re capturing the document, why shouldn’t we look at, see what data we can glean from it, and then put it in front of a C-level executive?”

Kofax Direct Sales Take Off

By Mark Brousseau

Kofax is achieving significant “accelerating” growth with its two year-old direct sales initiative, Alan Kerr, the company’s executive vice president of field operations said during a general session this morning at Transform 2009, the Kofax Annual Conference, scheduled for October 21-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

Shortly after Reynolds C. Bish joined Kofax at CEO nearly two years ago, the company began to move away from a purely channel-centric sales model, where it avoided direct engagement of customers. While the channel-centric sales model served Kofax well for many years, some large organizations around the world said they would rather have a direct relationship with Kofax, Bish said. So the company adopted a hybrid go-to-market model that uses both direct and indirect channels.

Now, “the business is exploding,” Kerr told the mix of Kofax business partners and end-users.

In the first half of Kofax’s fiscal year 2009, direct sales represented 14 percent of its software license revenues, Kerr said. In the second half of the company’s fiscal year 2009, direct sales doubled to 28 percent of its software license revenues. Looking ahead, Kerr said direct sales should represent 48 percent of the company’s software license revenues in the first quarter of its 2010 fiscal year.

“Do not misinterpret this,” Kerr said. “There is growth with our partner channel. We are selling to end-users who weren’t part of it.” Some end-users refused to buy through partners, Kerr said.

Bish told attendees that the company is executing on its hybrid go-to-market strategy "without encountering any major channel conflict. I think I can count on one hand the number of times we've had a conflict, and to the best of my knowledge, they have all been resolved amicably."

Kerr emphasized that Kofax continues to invest in its strategic relationships. “We continue to invest in technology vendors,” he said. “We have a comprehensive, global, world-class set of partner programs.”

Attendance Up At Kofax Transform

By Mark Brousseau

At a time when reduced travel budgets are negatively impacting many conferences and other industry events, attendance at Transform 2009, the Kofax Annual Conference, scheduled for October 21-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, in San Diego, is up about 30 percent compared to 2008, Alan Kerr the company’s executive vice president of field operations said during a session to kick-off the event.

With a theme of “The Need for Speed,” this year’s Transform event opened with a video montage blending the Kofax value proposition, heart-thumping music, and images of race cars, military jet planes and race horses.

Kerr told attendees that this year’s Transform event for the Americas attracted 425 attendees; 278 of the delegates represent Kofax business partners and 147 are from end-user organizations. “Unlike previous Transform events, this year’s conference is both an end user and partner event. In previous years, we were focused primarily on partners,” Andrew Pery, chief marketing officer at Kofax said during a press briefing last night. “We now have a good balance between partners and users.”

To ensure the event appealed to both partners and users, Pery said Kofax worked hard to develop an agenda that includes a broad range of product and industry sessions, as well as certification classes by AIIM and IOMA. “We’re trying to deliver value beyond product information,” Pery explained.

Some 392 attendees at this year’s Transform event are from the United States, 12 are from Canada, two are from Mexico and two are from South America, Kerr said. Approximately 20 of the users come from the user base of 170 Systems, which Kofax recently acquired. The event also has guests from Indonesia, India, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. Kofax will host a Transform event in Berlin, Germany, October 26-27 for partners and users from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Attendance at that event also is expected to be up, Pery said.

Transform sponsors include Fujitsu (the Platinum sponsor for the event), Canon, Bowe Bell+Howell, HP, Epson America, OPEX Corporation, A2iA, Computing System Innovations (CSI), FileBound, Ricoh, ibml, Therefore, AdvancedCaptureTeam, and Panasonic.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Your Information Secure?

By Mark Brousseau

The records management industry has entered into a new era where organizations need to place a much greater emphasis on securing their electronic information, says Steve Adams, senior records analyst for the National Archives and Records Administration. “We’ve got to change our mindset. We’ve got to become more suspicious,” Adams said during a presentation last week at the 54th annual ARMA International Conference and Expo, in Orlando’s World Center Marriott in Florida.

“The more we get into technology, the more vulnerable we have become,” Adams told attendees, adding that “Microsoft software is so vulnerable to cyber attacks that it is not even funny.”

Adams noted a Gartner study predicting that 30 percent of enterprises using wireless LANs will experience serious security exposure. Adams said over known 200 malicious software programs have been developed for this very purpose. What’s more, a survey by the Computer Security Institute found that 85 percent of computers have been damaged by cyber attacks – despite the fact that 89 percent of these computers had firewalls and 60 percent had intrusion detection. “The really frightening part is that 60 percent of these breaches were from inside the organization,” Adams said.

Sound security practices protect electronic information by preventing, detecting and responding to cyber attacks and other data breaches, Adams told the three dozen people in attendance.

One challenge to good information security is some common myths. These include the notion that:

... Anti-virus software and firewalls are 100 percent effective
... Once software is installed, you don’t have to worry about it again
... There is nothing important on your computer, so you don’t have to worry about it
... Attackers only target rich people
... When computers slow down, it means they are getting old

To help secure your electronic information, Adams provided the following strategies:

... Maintain and use anti-virus software (“But too much or the wrong kind can also cause problems,” Adams said)
... Install a firewall
... Regularly scan for Spyware
... Keep your operating software up to date
... Remove unused software programs
... Follow good security practices
... Be careful what Web sites you visit
...Turn your computer off when you’re not using it
... Never leave your computer unattended at an airport or other public place

Adams said companies should also use good password protocols – requiring staff to use at least eight characters (which take longer to crack) and change their passwords often. And nobody should be exempt from the policy; Adams said senior managers are the worst offenders of password policies.

Organizations should also be mindful of thumb drives, Adams said. While they are excellent tools for transporting information, they also can get through most metal detectors undetected – providing a vehicle for crooks to get information out of your organization without anyone ever noticing, he said.

“We’ve got to have good strategies for how we protect our information,” Adams concluded.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Webb Edwards to Deliver Keynote Address at Kofax's Transform Event

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Webb Edwards, one of the nation’s preeminent banking technology leaders and experts, will provide a keynote presentation at Kofax’s Transform 2009 Americas event on October 22 in San Diego, CA. I will be blogging throughout the Kofax event.

Formerly Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo Services, the technology and operations subsidiary of Wells Fargo, Webb is recognized nationally as a leading authority on technology strategies in both back and front office enterprise environments that span infrastructure, mainstream business applications development, payment systems, ATM services, risk management and data architecture. He currently advises and consults with organizations concerning their strategies in these and other areas.

“Webb brings a practical perspective on how organizations can realize increased operational efficiency, improved competitive agility and foster better customer satisfaction by automating labor intensive and error prone document driven business processes. As such, he’ll provide invaluable insights to Transform attendees,” said Reynolds C. Bish, Chief Executive Officer at Kofax.

Bish and Alan Kerr, Executive Vice President of Field Operations, will also provide keynote presentations that highlight and explain Kofax’s strategic initiatives designed to help customers and partners realize more value from the company’s product portfolio, including those arising from the recent acquisition of 170 Systems. Transform 2009 will also showcase industry specific case studies and presentations from over 20 major customers that span financial services, insurance, healthcare, government, manufacturing and high technology.

Transform 2009 Americas will be held October 21-22 in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel. Major sponsors include Fujitsu, Ricoh, HP, Canon, Computing System Innovations (CSI), Panasonic, Bowe Bell Howell, Opex, FileBound, ibml, Advanced Capture Team, Therefore and A2iA.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

News from the ARMA Conference: Saturday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Vital Path Announces Migration Center for the Desktop

At the ARMA Conference, Vital Path announced Migration Center as the newest addition to its lineup of content migration and integration solutions. Migration Center is a desktop solution designed to solve the majority of content migration needs. For more complicated and larger migration projects (over 50 Gigabytes) companies can upgrade to Migration Center Enterprise or the full PathBuilder Server based product.

Migration Center enables end users to migrate their content without the need to hire expensive consultants or have programming experience. Migration Center’s intuitive interface provides easy attribute mapping and dashboard reporting for the most basic user.

Migration Center is designed to provide a complete migration solution, without professional services for eRoom, SharePoint, Livelink, Hummingbird, Documentum, Docushare and File Shares.
Migration Center allows users to map custom attributes and types, migrate users, groups, and permissions, and apply data transformations to metadata values.

Pricing for the solution starts at $2495.

In other Vital Path news, the company's president Jay Rothe, was featured on a panel discussion at the 54th Annual ARMA Conference. The session, part of the Exclusively IT track, was entitled “A Holistic Approach to Enterprise Solutions: How can RIM, IT and Business Process Work in Tandem to Adopt a Solution?”

The discussion focused on the challenge of managing multiple records repositories across enterprises, which is often inconsistent and incomplete, further complicated by a tedious discovery process for each application. The panelists offered enterprise solutions that meet these challenges, and talked about tools available to help and ease the process.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

News from the ARMA Conference: Friday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

ZL to Present E-Discovery and Archiving Best Practices

ZL Technologies, Inc., will showcase its Unified Archive platform and present two seminars at LIT-Con, the Legal information Technology Conference, co-presented by ARMA International and ILTA, Oct. 15-16, at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

ZL President & CEO Kon Leong, will conduct two seminars to educate attendees on how to recognize the emerging differentiators between archiving and e-discovery solutions.

... “Large Enterprise Email Archiving Projects Often Fail. Find Out Why” -- Friday, Oct. 16, 2:30 – 3:45 p.m, Expo Floor, Room 1230.Electronically stored information (ESI) archiving is still a nascent field that is expanding in scope and functionality. Most early adopters were compelled to abandon legacy solutions unable to accommodate an expanding set of challenging requirements. This seminar examines several key breaking points of archiving solutions, enabling decision makers to identify the criteria necessary for successful archiving deployments.

... “E-Discovery: Why Most Enterprise Implementations Fail To Make the Grade” -- Friday, Oct. 16, 10:30 a.m. – noon, Palms Ballroom, Canary 3.In the enterprise, archiving as a proactive approach to E-Discovery typically involves billions of documents. Without a unified approach to archiving, E-Discovery searches take hours or days to complete. This seminar will explain why and how E-Discovery software fails to serve its intended purpose, introducing legal professionals to the technological pitfalls of E-Discovery across the enterprise.

Laserfiche Presents Transparent Records Management

Laserfiche is showcasing transparent records management at ARMA International’s 54th Annual Conference & Expo at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

“Laserfiche Records Management Edition (RME) reduces costs, improves accountability and enhances security,” said Margaret Anderson, Certified Records Manager for Collin County, Texas.

Laserfiche says its transparent records management enables records managers to manage multiple software applications, multiple departments’ information requirements and multiple records series and retention schedules without raising costs or disrupting everyday work processes.

Laserfiche Senior Vice President Chris Wacker added, “Laserfiche RME improves adherence to a records management plan with the functionality users appreciate, uniting document management and DoD 5015.2-certified records management in a single platform.”

Collin County’s Anderson presented a session titled, “Implementing an Electronic Document & Records Management Project," to help participants assess the document management needs of their organizations and teach best practice tips for simplifying records management implementations. She outlined the critical steps for planning the implementation and integration of an electronic records system.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

News from the ARMA Conference: Thursday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Canon U.S.A. demonstrates its image capture technologies

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is showcasing its high-speed scanning devices at the 54th ARMA International Conference and Expo in Orlando. Also at this year’s show, Canon is offering a sneak preview of its newest imageFORMULA models -- the imageFORMULA P-150 Personal Scanner and imageFORMULA DR-2020U Universal Workgroup Scanner.

“As a recognized leader in scanning and image capture technologies, Canon is committed to providing advanced solutions to meet the needs of customers in all working environments,” said Jim Rosetta, vice president and general manager, Imaging Systems Group, Canon U.S.A. “Maintaining precise, accurate and organized records is an essential business practice that all companies must implement, and throughout this show, Canon will show how its leading technologies can help streamline the record-management process.”

Helping to address the ever-evolving and growing needs of managing information, files and records in the workplace, Canon will exhibit how its leading and award-winning image capture devices will assist organizations in developing and implementing a more streamlined, efficient method for records management. Products on display at the show include:

… imageFORMULA P-150 Personal Scanner
… imageFORMULA DR-2020U Universal Workgroup Scanner
… imageFORMULA DR-6010C Departmental Scanner
… imageFORMULA DR-7550C Production Scanner
… imageFORMULA DR-X10C Production Scanner
… imageFORMULA ScanFront 220P Network Scanner

At ARMA, Canon will have two solution software vendors, FileBound and I.R.I.S. Professional Solutions on display in its booth. FileBound will be showing its Filebound AP software, which streamlines accounts payable processes, running in conjunction with a customized Canon ScanFront 220P Network Scanner. I.R.I.S. will be showing its IRISPowerscan production scanning and OCR solution, running with a Canon DR-X10C Production Scanner.

Kodak showcases solutions that capture and preserve critical documents

Kodak’s experts will provide live document imaging product demonstrations in booth # 911 throughout ARMA ‘09, from Oct. 15-17 in Orlando.

According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, businesses and organizations in the United States contribute to the annual growth of more than 4 trillion paper documents in existence. A call for stronger compliance and disaster recovery strategies increases the urgency for electronic records solutions to replace paper-based processes. Kodak’s technology and its network of value-added resellers (VARs) help various organizations establish a digital document infrastructure to preserve information for maximum accuracy and accessibility. Existing users include NASA, the GSA, the Massachusetts State Registry of Deeds, and other local and state government agencies.

“More than ever, it’s important to recognize the critical role that electronic information plays in advancing the capabilities of a business or organization,” said Roger Markham, Product and Channel Marketing Manager, US&C, Document Imaging, Kodak’s Business Solutions and Services Group. “The combined ability to preserve these digital records over a long period of time, as well as access to information on-demand, establishes a very strong foundation.”

Kodak’s says its booth showcases the advantages of combining capture hardware and software technology to help to create an effective capture and preservation platform. For example, KODAK Capture Pro Software, v 2.0, a software application with open compatibility for third-party scanners, as well as Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), makes it easier to input, validate and populate index fields. Kodak will demonstrate the software with its KODAK i780 Scanner and KODAK i1860 Scanner. Kodak will also display Capture Pro Software with a BÖWE BELL + HOWELL Ngenuity Scanner. BÖWE BELL + HOWELL Scanners are now a part of Kodak.

Archiving capabilities of the new KODAK i9600 Series Application Software will be demonstrated with the KODAK i750 Scanner, a hybrid capture and preservation solution that converts digital files such as PDF, PDF/A and MICROSOFT WORD documents to microfilm archival storage. The KODAK i9600 Series Application Software integrates seamlessly with virtually any scanner, the vendor says, making it easy for channel partners to customize solutions that meet long term (>500 years) regulatory and compliance requirements, without concern of system or software obsolescence. This makes it an ideal archiving partner for any digital storage system.

Kodak will also demonstrate its KODAK Scan Station 500 and KODAK i1320 Plus Scanner. The Scan Station 500, a networked scanner device, will be on display with a new user-friendly keyboard that extends the scanner’s ability to quickly and easily share digital information from a single machine. Other capabilities include its exclusive Voice Attachment feature that allows users to send digital files with an audio message. The KODAK i1320 Plus Scanner will demonstrate Kodak’s Smart Touch feature, which allows document sharing and distribution with the press of a single button.

“Kodak’s broad portfolio of capture hardware and software allows us to create scalable solutions that include hybrid capabilities for film-based archiving, as well as digital access,” said Robert Breslawski, ImageLink Media and Equipment Portfolio Manager, Document Imaging, Kodak’s Business Solutions and Services Group. “Kodak continues to work with its channel partners to help customers strengthen their capabilities for enhancing control over critical information from paper-based documents.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

News from the ARMA Conference: Wednesday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Some headlines from the ARMA Conference at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, FL:

BancTec Showcases Document Management and Business Process Outsourcing Solutions

BancTec is showcasing its document processing and business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions at the 54th annual ARMA International Conference and Expo.

"BancTec has helped thousands of clients in more than 50 countries simplify the management of their information, business processes and technology infrastructure," said Chuck Corbin, chief marketing officer, BancTec. "Our innovative mix of hardware, software and services helps companies automate complex, high-volume, data-intensive business processes, and we look forward to sharing this message with an important audience at the ARMA International Conference and Expo."

Featured at the ARMA conference will be BancTec's IntelliScan XDS, a multi-application, high-speed and mixed document processing scanner, which can capture and output images up to 550 pages per minute at 200 dpi.

For organizations interested in achieving bottom-line improvements without making large capital investments, BancTec will highlight its BPO capabilities. From AP invoice processing to healthcare revenue cycle management, BancTec BPO solutions help organizations lower operating costs, improve information access and reduce business risk.

Finally, BancTec will discuss its CenterVision solution, which converges departmental capture applications and complex mailroom centers onto a common platform.

Oce Business Services Highlights Records Management Solutions

Oce Business Services will highlight its records management solutions at the ARMA International Conference & Expo. The company will also address topics covered at the show that include paper and electronic records, compliance, document imaging, and records management best practices.

At this year's conference, taking place October 15 - 18 at the Orlando World Center Marriott, experts from Oce will be on hand to help organizations and records management professionals better understand the challenges they face in safely navigating the evolving records landscape.

Scheduled presentations by Oce executives include the following:

… Robert Milburn, Esq., Director of Discovery Solutions, Oce Business Services, and Jean Ciura, Ph.D., ermM, CRM, President, JMC Management Consulting, will co-facilitate an Education Session on developing a legal hold strategy (October 15th, 8:00 - 9:30 AM, room Crystal H). The session will spotlight topics that include identifying the components of a compliant legal hold program, becoming conversant on recent trends in the law and practice of electronic discovery, and exploring technology and process solutions for all phases of the EDRM model.

… Cheryl Young, CDIA+, Records and Information Solutions Architect, Oce Business Services, will participate as a panelist in an Exclusively IT Session moderated by Debra Logan, Vice President, Gartner Research (October 15th, 2:00 - 3:15 PM, Expo Floor, room 1230). This session will focus on the topic: "Outsourcing Electronic Records Storage and Disposition: What to Consider with an Outside Provider."

Pitney Bowes Touts Records & Information Management Expertise

Underscoring the complexities of mitigating risk and achieving compliance in businesses today, Pitney Bowes Management Services, Inc. (PBMS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Pitney Bowes Inc., will showcase its records and information management (RIM) solutions at ARMA ’09.

Pitney Bowes will exhibit at Booth #1016.

At ARMA, the leading industry trade show for records management, Pitney Bowes RIM specialists will provide information on how companies can take control of their information lifecycle by:

… Developing programs to address regulatory concerns,
… Designing and implementing processes to support legal initiatives,
… Creating procedures to support balancing electronic and physical document management needs,
… Standardizing, overseeing and coordinating dynamic enterprise information processes.

“The proliferation of mergers and acquisitions, along with growing regulatory compliance needs are just some of the factors that are driving businesses to consider their records management needs now more than ever before,” said Betty McAlvany, certified records manager and director of product development for RIM at PBMS. “Our team will demonstrate how companies can integrate use of their current records management systems with best practice protocols and new technology to achieve greater efficiency and accountability. We also will discuss how our proven methodologies can improve the quality of business processes, identify future program component enhancements, and provide guidance for regulatory compliance,” she added.

Pitney Bowes RIM experts will also lead a learning session entitled, “Reactive vs Proactive Records Management: What Do You Mean It Is “Only” a Box Project,” on October 16th at 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Small Businesses Fear Health Care Reform Will Bring Increased Costs, Complexity

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Nine out of 10 small business owners say it is important that health care reform offer choices in plans but many worry that change will bring increased costs (71 percent) and unnecessary complexity (56 percent), according to a survey TriNet recently conducted of more than 200 small businesses across the country.

“Health care is already a significant expense for small business owners,” said Burton M. Goldfield, TriNet’s president and CEO. “These results confirm what we hear from our small businesses clients: entrepreneurs want choices when it comes to health care programs, but their success will be hampered if reform results in annual double-digit cost increases and administrative nightmares that divert their focus from growth and revenue.”

TriNet, which releases human resources surveys on a quarterly basis to gauge trends among small businesses, learned that nearly 63 percent of the respondents said their health care costs rose between 6 percent and 20 percent in the last year. Of the respondents (90 percent) who pay at least a portion of health care premiums for their employees, 76 percent said health care insurance consumes between 1 percent and 10 percent of business revenues with 15 percent saying health care costs 11 to 20 percent of total revenues.

Among those respondents who think the costs of health care will increase with reform, 44 percent indicated they might reduce the level of benefits coverage to offset the added costs. The next largest group of respondents said they would look to reduce employee salaries and wages (21 percent) or staff levels (20 percent) to cover additional expenses.

When asked who should pay for health care insurance for employees of small businesses, 56 percent said it should be split between employers and employees, while 30 percent believe the government should also share the burden with employers and employees. If the government were to play a role in providing assistance to small businesses, 44 percent would like to receive tax credits for their business while 30 percent would prefer subsidies for a portion of the costs.

While 90 percent said they want a choice in plans, respondents were divided on what options reform should offer; 34 percent think options should include preferred provider organizations (PPOs) while 22 percent want universal programs run by the government and funded by business and personal income taxes.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Succession Planning Strategies

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Transferring the Reins: Ensure Smooth Succession Planning in Times of Change

By Laurel B. Sanders, Optical Image Technology (

Grooming new leaders is challenging. Increasingly it’s causing corporate unease. Executives nationwide are bracing for an unprecedented exodus of experienced leaders. Unfortunately, most aren’t prepared for the impending knowledge loss. Unique conditions are creating anxiety:

... Droves of Baby Boomers leaving the workplace.
... Downsizing and corporate realignments.
... Significant merger and acquisition activity.
... Younger managers favoring career paths over long-term corporate loyalty.

The current corporate landscape is comprised of 78% professional, administrative, technical, and clerical professions.1In federal agencies alone, 70% of senior managers will be eligible to retire by 2010.2 The corporate picture is similar.

Soon, masses of knowledge workers will reach the revolving doors. Before they do, we must establish systems to share institutional knowledge with future leaders and ensure the continuity our businesses need to succeed. If we don’t help our future leaders to fully understand the ‘what,’ ‘when,’ ‘where,’ ‘how,’ and ‘why’ of the businesses they will direct, costly mistakes will be made. Transferring knowledge is vital.

Tools for change
Business process management (BPM) software is a powerful tool for smooth succession planning. Rules-based software lets you standardize, streamline, and automate routine processes; ensure authorized persons can access work and related files; and provide needed guidance to complete tasks. BPM tackles the challenges of a mobile workforce, managing information efficiently and filling potential gaps between outgoing and incoming leaders and their staff.

1.Enforce organizational hierarchies
As part of an enterprise content management (ECM) system, BPM follows pre-established hierarchies for document approval, signing, and more. New leaders don’t have to worry about anyone overlooking policies, approvals, or required signatures. The watchful eyes of BPM ensure policies are enforced.

2. Ensure processing consistency
BPM syncs business rules with stored document information to automatically prioritize projects, collect approvals, process exceptions appropriately, and more. Intuitive user interfaces simplify task fulfillment, providing instructions at every turn.

3. Assign user rights appropriately
BPM follows institutional rules for file access, giving workers appropriate permissions as they carry out assigned tasks. By pre-determining which workers are authorized to access, annotate, forward, or otherwise interact with documents, customers are treated fairly and consistently. Work moves forward quickly.

4.Leverage information enterprise-wide
It takes time to comprehend the unique interrelationship of business processes when employees assume new positions. BPM respects institutional rules, securely pushing and pulling information across the enterprise wherever it’s useful ― accounting to HR, claims to policy servicing, contracts to payroll ― and maximizing information usefulness.

5.Address performance weaknesses
Productivity reporting gives managers valuable insight into incoming requests and employee output. Work is allocated or reassigned according to workload, project priority, absenteeism, and more. Leaders gain needed agility and can respond appropriately to changing conditions.

Plan for success
Long-term success requires careful planning. Avert future chaos and disaster by starting your knowledge transfer now. The approaching exodus can’t be stopped, but by putting the systems and information in place that your future leaders will need, you can ensure a smooth transition. Your company will be positioned to thrive in the face of change.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics website,
2 HR Magazine, December 2007, “Plugging the Boomer Drain.”

News from the AFP Conference: Tuesday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Bottomline Enhances Global Cash Management Platform

Today at the AFP Annual Conference in San Francisco, Bottomline Technologies announced new functionality for its WebSeries Global Cash Management platform, enabling banks to leverage industry standard messages for faster, more efficient cash reporting.

Through these new cash reporting capabilities, banks can send account statements and advices to corporate clients and correspondent banks. As the demand for real-time reporting among corporates and financial institutions continues to increase, WebSeries’ new functionality, which includes Nostro reporting, allows bank admin users to quickly and easily configure clients to receive statements and advices as needs and business requirements evolve.

“By leveraging industry standard messages, banks can quickly overcome many of the difficulties associated with efficient cash reporting. These new reporting capabilities are another example of Bottomline’s continuing commitment to helping banking customers support the needs of corporate clients through innovative features and functionality,” said Eric Campbell, Chief Technology Officer of Bottomline Technologies.

Corporate Treasuries Not Prepared for Unexpected Market Events

Posted by Mark Brousseau

At the AFP Conference in San Francisco today, Wall Street Systems (Wallstreet) released the survey findings of 46 of the leading US-headquartered Fortune 500 multinational corporate treasuries.

The top concerns were Counterparty Risk, 87% of respondents, and Cash Flow Forecasting with 28%. Startlingly, nearly 90% of corporate treasuries reported they still use manual processes such as spreadsheets to manage counterparty risk and cash flow forecasting. This means they are without the real-time view and information needed in uncertain environments. In the wake of the recent market collapse, manual processes are no longer acceptable for corporate treasury functions, according to survey respondents.

To further exacerbate the problem, Treasurers have traditionally relied on the credit rating agencies to provide their only measure of credit risk. Without question they can no longer rely on ratings as the only determinate of risk, and as a consequence they have cut their more risky exposures and moved to specific counterparties the government would view as ‘too big to fail’.

Treasurers are now in need of other tools to help them view and manage their counterparty exposure and ensure the group’s liquidity across the organisation, such as an integrated treasury management system – providing a real time view of exposure and liquidity on demand.

Mark Lewis, Director, Corporate Treasury, Wall Street Systems said: "Today the cost of making an investment in real time treasury technology, does not compare with the size of a possible loss caused by a failed counterparty. The opportunity to unwind the exposure prior to the failure could save the company millions, and is an essential point for proving the business case to the board."

The survey reveals that the once-accepted practice of spreadsheet management and other manual methods is no longer sufficient in today’s marketplace. Where treasury technology was once the provenance of mere cost savings, it is now required to provide an early warning system in the event of a market event and address shareholder demand and protect against large-scale failure.

CFOs and Treasurers Maintain Recessionary View

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Even as the U.S. economy has exhibited signs of stability in recent months, financial professionals have not seen solid evidence that business conditions have turned the corner.

The vast majority of attendees to the annual conference of the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) believe the U.S. economy remains in a recession, despite indications of economic growth in the third quarter. Their uncertain outlook for near-term business conditions parallels expectations that their organizations will not resume hiring or capital spending, which they had halted over the past year, according to an on-site survey conducted yesterday.

Just 11 percent of responding conference attendees -- which include CFOs, treasurers and other treasury and finance executives representing companies of a median size of $1.5 billion in annual revenues -- believe that the U.S. economy is out of the recession. The outlook for the near-term is not much more optimistic. Just 20 percent of survey respondents believe the recession will end before of the year while 69 percent expect the recession will continue well into 2010.

"AFP members have played a critical role in maintaining the financial stability of their organizations through the recession," said Jim Kaitz, president and CEO of AFP. "As we look ahead, AFP will continue to work with policymakers to ensure that financial regulatory reform is balanced and represents the needs of financial professionals. We are confident that responsible regulation will foster stable and secure financial markets."

Asked whether their organizations would be apt to increase or decrease payrolls in the next six months, nearly two-thirds of financial professionals say they expect to maintain payrolls at current levels. Of those responding, 22 percent expect company payrolls to shrink further while just 14 percent anticipate that their organization will resume hiring over the next six months.

Similarly, the overwhelming majority of survey respondents expect to either maintain or further cut capital spending over the next six months. Just 21 percent of financial professionals anticipate their organization will increase capital spending in the coming months.

As employment and capital spending have stabilized, so has their companies' access to capital. More than half of respondents indicate that their organizations' access to capital stabilized over the past six months. Further, the area where capital access may have improved is among companies that have utilized the debt markets -- 31 percent of organizations have had improved access to debt markets over the past six months. Access to banking lending has improved for 22 percent of respondents while a similar percentage report improvements in raising capital in the equity markets.

When asked about the greatest risk to their organization's ability to prosper in 2010, financial professionals were most likely to identify one of two threats: failure of consumer demand to materialize (30 percent) and the possibility of a double dip recession (28 percent). Consistent with the reported stability in capital markets above, only 12 percent of survey respondents see a loss of access to capital as the greatest risk to their organization.

Monday, October 5, 2009

News from the AFP Conference: Monday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Garda Cash Logistics Offers “Virtual Vaults”

At the AFP Annual Conference in San Francisco today, Garda Cash Logistics announced it is partnering with Bluepoint Solutions to deliver image-based cash vault processing, including image capture and image exchange of deposits and payments.

“With the advent of Check 21, we realized we could offer our clients a cost-effective solution to help expand their footprints and reduce costs,” said Patricia Marr, Vice President of Product Management at Garda. “By expanding our existing vault services to include image-based cash logistic services, our clients can effectively capture and exchange images received through Garda’s vault network, significantly accelerating deposit capture, posting and presentment. Working with Bluepoint, vaults can now be accessed electronically.”

Working with Bluepoint, Garda’s virtual vaults have the capability to immediately scan, process and balance mixed deposits of both cash and check documents. In addition to check processing, Bluepoint supports the image capture of paper tickets used to issue credit for cash deposits or cash adjustments, giving Garda the ability to provide direct billing data to banks. Garda’s centralized deposit balancing process captures, truncates, balances and adjusts check deposits for each of its customers. Check images are then formatted as X9.37 files for posting or bank-to-bank image exchange. Managed in an ASP environment, Bluepoint manages and corrects any exceptions to immediately adjust and balance the received deposit. Within the vault checks are scanned and the images are sent to Bluepoint’s centralized server where items are repaired if needed and then immediately balanced. The consolidation of the check processing in an ASP environment enables highly trained personnel to manage this functionality – enabling the vaults to stay in balance.

“In today’s uncertain financial environment, a bank cannot afford to lose sight of its core competencies – growing its deposit base and improving customer service,” said Hal Tilbury, president and CEO of Bluepoint Solutions. “Garda’s image-based virtual vault solution enables financial institutions to increase funds availability, expand geographically and more accurately manage deposits – all without adding additional resources. Specifically, this service helps banks attract and better serve commercial customers.”

US Dataworks Showcases Enterprise Payments Platform

US Dataworks is showcasing its enterprise payments platform, Clearingworks, this week at the AFP Annual Conference.

By using Clearingworks to automate multi-channel transaction processing and clearing, US Dataworks says organizations can significantly improve operational efficiency, reduce cost and more effectively manage converging paper-based and electronic payments processes -- all key requirements in our challenging economy.

Visitors to the US Dataworks expo booth (No. 314) can meet company representatives and see an overview of Clearingworks, including its components for ACH, WEB, Tel and remittance processing, check processing, payments decisioning, and returns management.

"US Dataworks' enterprise payments platform is flexible, enables continuous change and provides financial institutions and service bureaus with the infrastructure to better manage their entire transaction environment," commented US Dataworks President and COO Mario Villarreal. "Banks and billers currently face tremendous pressures to upgrade their payments platforms to handle the ever-expanding variety of emerging payment channels, all under limited budgets. The good news is that Clearingworks is a proven solution to simplify complex payment collections processing and reduce costs."

"US Dataworks is uniquely positioned to help banks, billers and service providers reduce payments processing and clearing costs and improve operational efficiency," said Villarreal. "No other company has the full range of capabilities that banks and billers need to streamline the entire transaction lifecycle, including payments processing, check processing, payments, remote deposit capture, payments decisioning and routing, and returns management."

3i Infotech, Regulus and J&B Showcase Revenue Chain Solutions

3i Infotech, Regulus Group and J&B Software are demonstrating how to uncover total cost of ownership savings within the corporate revenue chain at the AFP Annual Conference in San Francisco this week. The companies are exhibiting their billing, remittance processing, imaging, remote capture, electronic deposit and other products and services at the show.

By taking a consultative approach to evaluating a company’s cash collection processes, 3i Infotech says its companies not only uncover areas of inefficiency and cost savings, but deliver solutions for all parts of the entire revenue chain, whether the need is for outsourced, in-house, hybrid or managed solutions. And since these solutions come from a single vendor, management is simplified and management expenses are greatly reduced, 3i Infotech says.

“Because of the importance of the revenue cycle process to an organization, many companies become so focused on their day-to-day treasury operations that they often miss the savings opportunities in front of them,” said Kathy Hamburger, CEO and president of 3i Infotech, North America. “3i Infotech delivers a full suite of revenue chain solutions, not just one or two pieces, so we understand that the impact of the end-to-end revenue chain extends well beyond the treasury department to include finance, marketing, customer service and more. We help companies find ways to improve processes and reduce total cost of ownership from the production floor to the executive suite.”

News from the AFP Conference: Sunday

A roundup of the news from the AFP Conference today:

City of Los Angeles Wins AFP Pinnacle Grand Prize

The City of Los Angeles won the 2009 Pinnacle Award Grand Prize for excellence in treasury and finance at AFP's Annual Conference today. An independent panel of eight judges declared the Office of the Treasurer of Los Angeles had the superior entry out of a record number of submissions.

The Los Angeles Office of the Treasurer:

… Updated its 30-year-old system and reduced unidentified deposits from 1,220 to fewer than 20 per month;

… Automated general ledger posting, resulting in the reduction of 107 FTE hours per week;
Realized annual float savings of $1.13 million from implementation of four controlled disbursement accounts; and

… Decreased compensating balances with an associated increase in return on investment of $4 million.

"AFP is extremely proud to honor the City of Los Angeles as the 2009 Pinnacle Award Grand Prize winner," said Jim Kaitz, president and chief executive officer of AFP. "Despite seemingly insurmountable external and internal challenges, the City of Los Angeles transformed its treasury and finance operations to benefit residents by more efficiently handling taxpayer revenue -- and leading the treasury and finance industry in the process."

Judges were impressed by the sheer scope of the project: Los Angeles reengineered entire processes and systems while winning buy-in from multiple city agencies and political figures.

For winning the AFP Pinnacle Grand Prize, the City of Los Angeles receives a $10,000 donation from Wells Fargo to the charity of its choice. Los Angeles will donate the award to Angel's Flight for runaway and homeless youth, run by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles. The center is a refuge for runaway teens, most of whom are fleeing abusive families. Teens are welcomed with shelter, food, clothing, mental health care, counseling and education. The program includes a drop-in center and an outreach component, and reaches at least 3,000 adolescents a year.

BancTec Showcases Solutions at AFP Annual Conference

BancTec is highlighting its capabilities in accounts payable automation, digital mailroom and business process outsourcing (BPO) at the AFP Annual Conference.

"Many of the world's largest organizations utilize BancTec solutions to improve their internal operations and generate bottom-line cost savings," said Chuck Corbin, chief marketing officer, BancTec. "From helping organizations capture, deliver and manage their inbound communications more effectively, to improving accounts payable operations, we have enabled clients across the globe to simplify the management of their information, business processes and technology infrastructure. We look forward to interacting, and sharing our message with, the corporate treasury and financial management professionals at the AFP Annual Conference."

BancTec's CenterVision solution converges departmental capture applications and complex mailroom centers onto a common platform. BancTec says the CenterVision solution helps organizations speed up the delivery of business-critical information, streamline existing document processes, and more easily adapt to changing business requirements.

BancTec says its AP Master accounts payable automation solution enables enterprises to significantly lower the processing cost per invoice and gain improved financial management. AP Master can cut down the time, man hours and financial resources associated with the hassles and headaches of back-office AP processing, allowing organizations to focus more attention on pressing business challenges.

UMB Financial Executives to Speak at AFP Annual Conference

Michael Hagedorn, chief financial officer of UMB Financial Corporation will speak at the AFP Annual Conference this week.

Hagedorn will present “Exploring Shakespeare: A modern day economic tragic comedy” on Wednesday, October 7, from 8 – 9 a.m. in room 220. The presentation offers his professional insight into the actions the government is taking to correct the downturn of the economy, the choices businesses are facing and the financial decisions we make collectively as a society.

Hagedorn has more than 20 years of experience in the financial world. His responsibilities include corporate and regional finance, audit, compliance, regulatory reporting, strategic planning, management reporting, properties and enterprise project management.

Additionally, Dennis Triplett, CEO of UMB Healthcare Services, a division of UMB Financial Corporation, will speak at the AFP Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The presentation will take place on Monday, October 5, from 4 – 5 p.m. in room 236. Triplett will be co-presenting with Chris Ryan, chief strategy and marketing officer at SHPS, a leading provider of health improvement and health benefits solutions. The presentation, “Health Care Dilemma: Individual Responsibility, Social Good or Entitlement?” will address current health care reform proposals as well as health care consumerism.

Triplett has more than 27 years of experience in the banking industry. He oversees UMB’s strategic direction in healthcare banking and manages the sales and marketing activities, as well as product development and relationship management. In addition to his role at UMB, Triplett also serves as chairman of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation and chairman of the America’s Health Insurance Plan’s HSA Leadership Council.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Debunking the "Myth" of SOA

Posted by Mark Brousseau

For every one of those people though, there will be another who has said ‘yes’ to a concept, swept along on an irresistible wave of technical wizardry and promises. Being able to see through some of the IT hype must be a constant challenge for senior decision-makers. One such area where the hype would appear to be winning may be Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) — as Jerry Iacouzzi of KPMG’s Advisory practice explains.

SOA in its current form has been with us for about four years and the hype surrounding it has turned SOA into one of the key buzzwords around the IT industry. Is the hype really merited? I would say it is not.

SOA is touted as the solution to the problems which arise within modern businesses which have evolved on the back of numerous different IT systems and applications. Its advocates claim that SOA is the way of wresting back control; of better aligning the business and its IT set-up and creating a more flexible IT infrastructure.I’m not so sure. I’m yet to see many businesses extracting any real value from an SOA installation. I don’t immediately perceive what potential benefits there are and what is quite telling is that there are very few people out there with deep experience in the concept of SOA.

Therefore, I cannot get away from the fact that SOA appears to exhibit almost all of the signs of a typically over-hyped IT concept. However, the way in which some senior people are excitedly talking about what SOA can achieve for their business makes me think that the hype may be working. I believe this is the IT equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes, with people falling over themselves to say how good it looks.Don’t get me wrong; the basic SOA premise is a good one. It takes all the technology currently in play in one business and aims to pull it together on one single enterprise-wide platform. It overcomes the issues arising from a heterogeneous IT approach (multiple applications spreads across multiple platforms) by creating a single, homogeneous IT platform. With many businesses currently struggling with so many segregated silos of IT architecture, hosting applications which perform vital tasks but which are completely divorced from each other, who wouldn’t be interested in consolidating all that into one single framework?

But is that what’s really on offer? I would suggest that it doesn’t really provide a single IT platform. Rather it links existing applications together in a way which neatly hides the interfaces from the end-user. For sure, it has proved handy in terms of streamlining applications and processes but passing it off as some sort of architectural panacea which can solve all a company’s application-related issues seems somewhat wide of the mark to me.

All of which brings me back to the age-old problem of cutting through the hype and debunking the popular IT myths. This is, in my opinion, a classic example of the ‘tech-speak’ gaining the upper hand over more measured, strategic, commercial reasoning. The SOA debate should be focused on the strategic vision for IT architecture, not about blinding people with technical wizardry, positioning SOA as some form of silver bullet solution to the complexity of modern day IT.

Looking at it dispassionately, SOA should have been hamstrung somewhat by the very vague manner in which it is inevitably discussed. Dig beneath the surface hype and it is actually quite hard to properly define what it does or what is needed to make it work properly. Despite this, businesses seem to be signing up in their droves.

The SOA technology is maturing and — in time — should become more effective and reach the point at which its value can be more easily identifiable. Until then, it is little more than window dressing for rather more mundane tasks which I.T. teams can already undertake perfectly competently.It is the man of the moment though. Many businesses realized that something needed to change before the issues arising from their IT architecture simply overwhelmed them. SOA conveniently filled that demand gap — but it left many people thinking that the problems were solved.

What should actually be happening is that they should be thinking more strategically about their IT architecture requirements or about the governance and control issues which arise from an SOA installation. To do that though, people will need to see through the SOA hype first.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Posted by Mark Brousseau

With widespread acceptance that deficiency in risk management was a leading contributor to the credit crisis, these could be happy days for Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and its advocates. With that new-found popularity will come accountability though; a request that ERM proves its real worth. Ascribing a quantifiable value to ERM may be difficult – but not impossible as Mike Nolan of KPMG’s Advisory practice explains.

As a concept, Enterprise Risk Management has now been with us for some time yet the concerns over how to quantify its effectiveness refuse to disappear.

Many people have become accustomed to judging ERM in qualitative, ‘softer’ terms. In this regard, it’s hard to argue against its effectiveness, resulting as it does in enhanced risk identification and prioritization, a common risk language, improved risk and controls optimization, better risk monitoring and reporting as well as contributing to strengthening risk governance and culture.

However, in today’s currently cost-obsessed environment, assessment against intangible KPIs is unlikely to satisfy those business leaders intent on gauging exactly what the return on investment is; what value their current — or proposed — ERM program generates.

As more companies consider implementing ERM as a way of avoiding the risk management failures which precipitated the current crisis, the good news is that I believe ERM is quantifiable.Such quantification may not be easy; there’s no single formula and the results may not even be perfect — but surely this is preferable to the insistence that ERM can only be measured qualitatively. Such a reassurance might just convince a few more skeptics to head down the ERM route.

If you think about what ERM delivers, there are actually plenty of quantifiable outputs; decreased variability in financial results for example, as well as reduced hedging, insurance and capital costs. These equate directly to improved cash flow which, when coupled with a reduced discount rate (arising from reduced earnings volatility and an improved reputation within the investment community), results in enhanced company value. The metrics are there; it’s just a question of turning them into a final assessment which quantifies that all-important return on investment.

Let’s consider those metrics more closely, starting with capital costs first. With rating agencies paying increasing attention to companies’ ERM frameworks, deficiencies or over-performance in this area can be equated to a quantifiable impact on a company’s ability to access capital and on the cost of capital. Secondly, hard cost savings can be delivered by an ERM program which streamlines existing risk efforts and highlights redundant and inefficient risk activities (e.g. identification / assessment, aggregation and validation processes). Again, another quantifiable metric.

Insurance and hedging costs can be the most tangible cost elements in managing specific risks. ERM can help to optimize and reduce these costs by more clearly identifying underlying risk exposures, existing offsets and potential redundancies and inefficiencies.

Estimating earnings variability may be a complex task but can feasibly be undertaken both before and after ERM risk mitigation activities in order to demonstrate the impact and value of the ERM program.

Harder to quantify are the investment opportunities which can arise from ERM implementation but this does not mean the potential ‘up-side’ of ERM should simply be ignored. ERM enables companies to make smarter, proactive decisions, based on a better understanding of their current risk profile and their appetite for taking onboard more risk in pursuit of competitive advantage.

ERM is about optimizing risk in accordance with your risk tolerances and setting limits; not simply minimizing risk. Applying a risk lens and risk metrics to a business opportunity, in addition to the growth metric analysis, is likely to result in improved investment decisions. ERM can assist in identifying opportunistic areas of your business that would benefit from investment.

When thought of in these terms, the value of ERM looks far more quantifiable than has often been perceived. There is no simple formula for generating that final value but it should be an aggregate of performance in the areas mentioned above.

For too long, ERM has been considered solely in compliance terms, perceived similarly to existing internal audit, legal, environmental and finance compliance activities. Its presence was designed to assuage risk concerns from external stakeholders, directors and ratings agencies alike. It should now be seen in a more proactive light.

The credit crisis has refocused attention on to this area of business. ERM’s ‘standing’ in the risk world may have gone up but, with all expenditure now scrutinized down to the last dollar, it will have to properly prove its worth; something which it has traditionally struggled to do.

Thankfully, it may not prove as difficult a task as some would have us believe.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Banks Target Gen Y

Posted by Mark Brousseau

After failing to develop strong relationships with older consumers, banks are now turning to Generation Y -- with its emerging demand for banking products -- as a source of growth in a weak economy. In addition, banks have an opportunity to start fresh and avoid the relationship sins they have committed in the past. Gen Yers' trust in banks is slipping, however. Only 14 percent of Gen Yers report that their trust in their primary bank has increased over the past year, while 22 percent say that their trust level has decreased over that time frame.

"Banks must avoid alienating Gen Yers as they did older consumers," says Ron Shevlin, senior analyst with Aite Group and author of this report. "Building strong banking relationships with Gen Yers involves getting them engaged with their financial lives and financial providers. Social networks and the online channel will be insufficient in accomplishing this. The tactics and strategies for winning Gen Yers' business must be cross-channel and even cross-family."

What do you think? Post your comments below.