You might think summer would be a good time to give acquisitions a break – to let things settle a bit. But the pace of key acquisitions continues and many deserve comment. Datacap, as we all know, is not new to IBM having many – probably 20 – joint customers. This helps shore up IBM's already packed ECM portfolio – which depended for capture on Kofax – and other partners like Datacap. The original capture assets, acquired with FileNet, were adequate but lacked forms processing and a distributed capture strategy. This acquisition plugs those gaps but more importantly provides a needed platform to overlay IBM's suite of analytics products to improve business processes with metadata extraction, document classification, and ultimately to bring text analytics to transactional business processes. Advanced capture will also help IBM in advancing areas of dynamic case management and medical records.
Forms capture technology to enhance scanning, OCR, and workflow has evolved to where the basic scan and OCR, covered well by FileNet's existing capture, is just not enough . The leaders Kofax and Captiva and emerging players like Brainware have strong forms processing credentials and now IBM can provide its own capabilities. Basically, extracting information from an image is greatly improved with forms processing. When a document enters the system, a key field, such as PO number, is used to identify a template for that document. That template will have preconfigured zones that the recognition software will be pointed to for extraction. Accuracy of OCR is improved. The templates can be predefined based on testing in deployment. However, more advanced systems allow dynamic learning – an area IBM can advance with analytic capabilities. Datacap has not been overly impressive in this regard, but IBM's analytics can help complete the picture. Forrester believes that soon analytics will support extraction of meaning from documents, but they need strong capture for this to succeed. So this is not good news for Kofax – that will over time see the IBM channel diminish – and EMC loses a bit of differentiation against the IBM P8 suite. A good move by IBM, and congratulations to Datacap. And please – let's keep the consolidations down until summer winds down.