The Laserfiche user conference held its main event at the Long Beach, California aquarium. I will try to refrain from making obvious jokes about this. I did make every effort to avoid walking past the fish tanks and lagoons with my Halibut dinner (the shark lagoon is pretty good). The Mayor of Long Beach gave Nien-Ling an award celebrating 20 years in business. Nien-Ling Wacker is the founder and chief inspiration for the company. I will credit her with defining the SMB market for ECM. The governor also gave an award, although the Terminator could not make the event.
Despite a name that combines two obsolete technologies, Laserfiche continues to grow. This year 600 customers, 200 VARs and 200 employees pushed this event to the 1000 people milestone.
Laserfiche takes a "less is more" philosophy and still focuses on eliminating file cabinets, being easy to use, and most importantly — affordable. This year version 8 is out and emphasizes a records management module and stronger workflow as well as embraces a more open approach. The key to their success seems to be responsive support and taking care of the little things that help ECM adoption, such as synchronizing CD volumes or a simple integration with the Goldmine contact management system. Their "code library" has hundreds of these utilities that handle often overlooked but critical tasks.
Nien-Ling Wacker referred to the big players coming into the market as "boys" with LaserFiche being "adults." Several case studies were presented where some of those "boys" implemented overly complex systems at great expense only to be thrown out for a system that did not require teams of consultants.
Laserfiche has grown revenues consistently and has been profitable now for years. I spoke with many of their customers and one thing is constant: They are trying to buy solutions that solve basic records management and paper-related problems. And most care little about who is buying who — and even less about whether an ECM provider is part of a big company positioning for infrastructure or a medium size pure play emphasizing applications and vertical markets. These buyers are focused on the thousands of business processes that need help managing content, migrating from paper to electronic, and applying higher levels of automation. There is plenty to do for everyone and firms that focus on what customers need will continue to prosper.