The Worldwide IBM ECM Community
Gaye Watanabe 270002ME82 firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  education datacap content demo ecm training navigator youtube with ibm 297 Visits
Gaye Watanabe 270002ME82 email@example.com Tags:  ibm education training demo interface navigator datacap ecm 291 Visits
Scott Blau 270004N498 firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  mobile scanning datacap chicken pox scott processing capture blau forms ocr 3 Comments 3,400 Visits
I have been involved in document capture for 26 years - since well before it was even called "capture." I am often asked about how I came to found Datacap. So taking advantage of my impending exit from the stage (read on for more!), I thought I would share some background on the founding of Datacap as the first true document capture software company.
Scott - @CaptureGuru
Scott Blau 270004N498 email@example.com Tags:  scott blau classification mobile datacap #datacap distributed document ocr scan capture #capture 3,743 Visits
As a continuation from my previous post, here are some fundamental questions to ask yourself - and others - as you embark on a distributed capture endeavor:
An intuitive user-interface is essential to facilitate distributed capture. Typically, the people receiving documents are customer-facing, not dedicated and trained capture operators. The solution should provide a clear and simple series of steps to that assure a legible document image…
A poor image quality or, worse, partially-captured document, will quickly undermine the benefits of distributed capture, especially downstream when it comes time to extract data with optical character recognition (OCR). This is where most mobile telephone cameras struggle to create high enough quality images to avoid laborious manual effort later in the process. For a step up in quality, select a portable scanner – some are no larger than a thick ruler – that attaches to a laptop or mobile device.
The first, most important, piece of information about any scan, is the identity of the document itself. Is it an application, a claim, a change-of-address, etc? That question might be answered by manual input from the person who scanned or took the picture of the document, but it also might be automated through automatic document classification. Remember, your mobile and distributed workforce are not trained capture professionals, so take a belt and suspenders strategy on this one…
Determining the accuracy of content extracted from a document is of prime importance. Whether the extraction is manual, or automated with OCR, you need a set of checks and balances to assure users that the solution can be relied upon. For example, if the software is uncertain, how does it notify a user, and which user is it that gets notified?
The security of data is essential to consider, especially when handling customer or other sensitive data. Distributed capture must be considered moving capture into high-risk environments. Make sure you understand what the risk exposure is if a mobile device is lost or stolen in the field.
The speed at which the captured document is transferred from the mobile device to your repository or LOB system determines the speed at which it can be processed by the application. The old saying, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” comes into play here. If there is, in fact, a bandwidth limitation for remote users, then the advantages of capturing remotely may be lost in the transfer.
There are always exceptions and how you manage them is the test of a capture system. Can you add attachments? Can you add a new document you weren’t expecting? Can you annotate a document or route it to a supervisor for review? The closer you are to the customer, the more exceptions you will encounter, so make sure you have the flexibility to handle the unexpected.
In most cases, a mobile capture solution will both archive the document images, and route them into a line of business system – as fast as possible for customer satisfaction. For example, an invoice, resume, or contract will be sent to the ERP system. An insurance claim will be forwarded for adjudication. A loan application may link to a case management system, where underwriters will review. A medical document will be appended to the patient’s electronic health record. Make sure your distributed capture system can connect to your business systems and deliver image and data seamlessly.
After all these years in the capture business, I thought things had settled down. People have been saying that document capture is a “mature” technology. And, of course, it is, but the world is changing around us, creating new opportunities. So don’t be shy: if you see a way to shorten the cycles, to deliver better customer service, to improve vendor relations, or to change just about any existing process by capturing documents sooner at distributed/remote locations, then take advantage of the opportunity. Just ask the right questions - and get credible answers – as you navigate to a successful implementation.
Note: An earlier version of this post appeared in April 2013 on John Mancini's Digital Landfill blog.
Follow me on Twitter @CaptureGuru
Scott Blau 270004N498 firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  scott scanner capture mfp datacap blau mobile distributed 2,357 Visits
It’s a given: the sooner you convert a paper document into an electronic image, the faster, more accurately, and less expensively you process it. Obvious though it may have been, over the 20+ years I’ve been in this business it’s not been an easy insight to act upon.
In the era of MFPs (multifunction peripherals), mobile phones and mobile data plans, it’s easy to forget how tentative data connectivity was even a short time ago. Even in a commercial setting, banks with branches, insurers with independent brokers, in fact, any organization with far-flung activities, all had big concerns about wide-area bandwidth. Scanning of documents and sending them “over the wire” from remote locations was seen as a luxury.
That perspective is changing – fast.
Converting a paper document to digital image as soon as the document is received, or even created, is a strategy now within reach of most organizations, in most parts of the world. It's called distributed document capture. It’s different from the old model of centralized capture, where everything is sent to a central processing center.
The good news is that there are now low-cost desktop scanners, mobile scanners, multi-function peripherals (MFPs), and more than a billion smart phones worldwide that can operate as a capture device. The bad news is that it’s not so simple as simply snapping a photo to be successful with distributed capture. Before you invest in a solution, you need to prepare yourself by asking some key questions... I'm putting some together to share with you in my next post.
Follow me on Twitter @CaptureGuru
Scott Blau 270004N498 email@example.com Tags:  imaging capture datacap mfp blau time mobile coca-cola real ecm iod scott 5,258 Visits
It's time to start planning your agenda for Information On Demand 2013 - aka "IOD," in Las Vegas. Whether you are in IT, Operations, or Finance, IOD is a great networking opportunity: meet with peers, industry experts, and influence the architects of your current solutions. Choose between business, technical, and leadership training sessions, or use the event to expand your understanding of Business Analytics, other Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies, and Information Management. There are also special events with todays thought leaders. You will be encouraged to “Think Big,” but maybe just as important, you can also learn how to “Think Fast.”
The main reason to go to IOD? Capture, of course! We're putting the focus on capture in the context of "real-time imaging." What's real-time? That's the time you - and your customers - expect things to happen when they have a smartphone in their hands. Mobile is coming to capture very quickly now. Don't believe me, then come to IOD to see for yourself. We'll be showing that and related distributed/branch capture capabilities and solutions. You'll see what is available today... and if you pay close attention, we'll give you a sneak peak at the future!
Here are some specific real-time imaging sessions to pencil into your agenda... and there are more to come!
Also, be sure to take advantage of the once-a-year opportunity to meet 1:1 with IBM executives, subject matter experts and innovative IBM Business Partners. I'll be there, but you an also talk strategy with other ECM imaging business leaders, such as Brent Bussell, Feri Clayton,Brian Phelps, and Rick Gawronski. Or take a deep dive in to Document Imaging and Capture with experts from our product and technical teams, including Tom Stuart, Ben Antin, Jim Reimer, Charles Wiecha, Bud Paton and Noel Kropf.
For ongoing IOD updates, follow me on Twitter @CaptureGuru.
Scott Blau 270004N498 firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  india entry data ocr #capture datacap blau scott capture ecm 2,273 Visits
I'm just back from a trip to India. Until fairly recently, I would never have imagined significant opportunity for document capture in the very place where outsourcing of data entry has been most successful. That's relevant to the document capture business because when a document is "captured" two things happen:
Even banks with far-flung operations and massive workforces are exploring ways to automate aspects of the document capture process: the volumes of documents to be captured are staggering once a bank wades into the world of branch capture. (My thoughts on how branch capture is technically something new in document capture: http://ibm.co/13i74bl.) Automation not only reduces costs, but speeds up the process, ultimately helping improve customer services… and most importantly, customer satisfaction. (And if you are skeptical that customer satisfaction is the underlying benefit of document capture, let me try to convince you: http://ibm.co/10bwmsJ.)
Put another way, in large-scale document capture operations, there is a premium on reducing complexity, including the number of people involved. Globally, the Holy Grail is to grow the number of documents being captured, while meeting that growing need with existing staff.
From my perspective, document capture has come of age when it is being adopted globally, even in markets traditionally noted for the low cost of labor.
To continue the conversation, connect with me on Twitter @captureguru.
Scott Blau 270004N498 email@example.com Tags:  watson blau scott datacap jeopardy capture ecm ocr 3 Comments 5,057 Visits
4 Non-Trivial Questions to Ask before Committing to Production Document Capture
In late 2009 and I got a call from the brother of a good friend. He was a researcher at IBM's Watson Labs - soon to became famous for the "Watson" artificial intelligence engine that spectacularly beat the top humans on the trivia game-show, Jeopardy!
My friend was trying to solve a problem and thought that my company, Datacap (the acquisition of Datacap by IBM was not even on the horizon at this point), could help, since we specialized in optical character recognition (OCR) and related document capture technologies.
I said, "great, let me ask you 3 or 4 questions about what you are trying to do:
1) What is the volume of documents/pages/images you need to process per day, week, month, or year?
2) What data do you need to extract from those pages, any special considerations to take into account?
3) Are the pages consistent in format, variable, something in between?"
He said he had 5000 pages. Clearly to him that was a big number, but he was a bit deflated when I asked, "is that per day?" In the production document capture business, it is definitely common that a volume like that may be literally processed "before breakfast."
But 5000 pages were all he had. Not every day or week, or even every month, just once. I was a little skeptical, but I wanted to learn more.
He needed to extract information from an English language pronunciation guide. He wanted to read the word to be pronounced, and then the linguistically precise definition of the pronunciation, including diacritical marks (accents) commonly used in those definitions. In other words, this was not just straight English language OCR. My skepticism increased.
I wasn't surprised when I next learned that the pages were not at all consistent, that the definitions for a specific word could wrap from one page to the next, or that the pages to be scanned were in bound books...
That was it. Did he really expect to use a production capture product to process - one time - 5000 pages with specialized text and words on them and no fixed format? Well, yes, he did. He had a real challenge and his expectation was not unreasonable... it just is not what production document capture is about.
Those three questions can help anyone quickly assess a document capture problem. In this case, the answer was simple, but perhaps wrong. I advised him that it would not be economically feasible for him to invest in production document capture, but in giving that answer I missed a great opportunity.
Turns out I should have asked a 4th question, "why do you need to read a pronunciation guide?"
I learned later that my friend was working on a major artificial intelligence project, one that would need a computer capable of blurting out words under extreme time pressure. He was, in fact, working on giving "Watson" a voice. It was that voice, having been trained to enunciate thousands of words, that went on prime time to beat the best human players at a live game of Jeopardy!
He eventually used a desktop OCR program and a lot of patience to translate the pronunciation guide from paper to something Watson could understand. Although my 3 questions helped me quickly assess the value of the opportunity, by skipping the 4th question, I missed the opportunity to brag how Datacap helped to give Watson a voice!
Is production document capture and imaging right for you? Click here to learn more on using capture solutions.
Deepthi Nagarajan 270005NCRR DEEPTNAG@IN.IBM.COM Tags:  document datacap intelligent capture scott documents scan imaging 1,549 Visits
Blog Post by Scott Blau,WW Director of Document Capture,IBM ECM
Historians and anthropologists debate the topic of “when did intelligent life on earth start?” But I sometimes wonder just how intelligent we are when I see the nutty things that humans do. I certainly scratch my head at the way we sometimes make our lives so hard for ourselves in the way we structure our activities.
Is it really intelligent to pave over so much of the earth? Are we being smart not putting more effort into alternative energy sources? And on a much more immediate level, is it really so intelligent of us to continue to be swapping paper documents and filing them in filing cabinets, or even printing an email… so it can be sent down the hall to be scanned?
It is probably a “no” to each of those questions.
I’m not an expert on ecology or sustainability, but I’ve been around the document capture space for long enough to know that there still is a lot of room for us to get smarter. One of the ways of doing that is to stop thinking about document capture in isolation, separately from the storage and retrieval of images after they’ve been captured.
When I first started out in document capture in the late 1980s, it made some sense to think about scanning a document, extracting information from it and then forgetting about the image altogether. But with advances in network bandwidth, storage, and database technologies, it’s rare these days that anyone scans without saving images. And that’s smart.
But to squirrel away those images where they may not be easily found, are not properly indexed, or are unconnected to business processes, isn’t particularly clever either. And certainly processes which cause electronic documents to slip back to paper (through printing) only to be scanned again is on the dumb side of the scale.
Intelligent Imaging is about bringing to bear all the capabilities that have developed over the last 20 or 30 years to take documents, whether they are originally electronic or paper, extract information from them, make them available, and, finally, tie them into useful business processes.
Here’s a man-in-front-of-a-whiteboard video where I explain more about intelligent imaging – all in under seven minutes.
Blog post by
Admittedly, capturing invoices automatically is not as exciting as riding Disneyworld’s Space Mountain roller coaster ride, but it’s not as scary either. Why? Because you have more control. When you ride Space Mountain, you are strapped in like a piece of luggage and you spend half the time in the dark. IBM Datacap Taskmaster Accounts Payable puts the operator in the driver’s seat with lots of tools – available at a single click – and you’re never in the dark.
Leveraging IBM’s Intelligent imaging approach, Datacap enables operators to view scans, faxes, emails and email attachments all in the same format, so it doesn’t matter how your department receives invoices. As you can see in this quick demo Taskmaster extracts data automatically, applies the vendor ID, and enables matching against purchase order line items, so you can help facilitate a three-way match in SAP or Oracle. And watch how easy it is to receive a new invoice and set it up – without building templates or programming.
So here’s a proposal: automate invoice processing with Datacap to cut your invoice processing time and cost in half, and then, with the extra time you have back, you can make plans to fly to Orlando and wait in line for Space Mountain.