Harvey Spencer Associates (HSA) will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Capture Conference. The event is being held Sept. 3-4, once again at the Glen Cove Mansion on Long Island, which has been the site since the event was launched in 2005. From humble beginnings with representatives from somewhere around 30 companies, the conference has grown to reach annual attendance of close to the site capacity of approximately 100 people—typically including high-level representatives from several of the top capture hardware and software vendors around the world.

“It’s very interesting if you look back at where we were when we started the conference to see how far we’ve come,” noted Harvey Spencer, the principal of HSA. “Ten years ago, we were almost solely focused on batch scanning, forms processing, and some payments and remittance. There was no mobile capture. The cloud didn’t exist. Social media and big data were not talked about.”

At the first conference (which was promoted by Dave Wood), Spencer did the bulk of the presenting with three guest speakers and a panel (on capturing with MFPs vs. dedicated scanners) moderated by DIR editor Ralph Gammon. This year’s agenda includes eight guest speakers (including Gammon) and one presentation by Spencer with the help of Mike Spang who joined HSA last year. Erin Dempsey, formerly of Wood Associates, now does a great job with event promotion.

“When we launched the conference we thought of it partly as a recruiting tool,” Spencer told DIR. “We thought that the audience would be made up mostly of people who were not HSA clients, so they wouldn’t be familiar with my work. Much to my amazement, a large number of clients showed up.”

To address this Spencer began introducing more content not included in his regular reports. This content has been presented by guest speakers with knowledge on a wide range of topics. “From the beginning, one focus has been regulations that impact the industry,” Spencer said. “We’ve had talks on topics like Check 21, Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, and XBRL. I also try and have someone present on a geography that people might be interested in expanding into [India, Russia, Brazil, etc.], as well as have an end user give their perspective.

“When the presentations focus on technology, I try to concentrate on peripheral topics that are important for capture vendors to be aware of. For example, we started talking about mobile capture very early on and it has now evolved to where it’s mainstream. And we’ve had a couple of presentations on semantic understanding and now that is starting to manifest itself in the market. We also had presentations on topics like procure-to-pay and SharePoint before they started affecting the capture market. Of course, we had a Microsoft person come and talk about XPS, so not everything is going to work out.”

Two of the cutting edge technology topics on this year’s agenda include “Photo and Video Understanding: Augmented Reality Used in Transactional Information” and “CEM: Moving Capture to Real Time to Better Service Customer Needs.” The first topic is indicative of capture’s expanding number of input channels—note that the conference originally was called “Document Capture” which in recent years has evolved into the wider encompassing “Capture.” The second topic covers the continuing integration of capture with other business applications.

Spencer noted that both trends related to these topics have contributed to driving up the average sales price of capture over the past 10 years. “The traditional view of capture has been that it is used for document batches with some automated indexing,” he said. “Sales for this type of capture have typically gone through a VAR channel and are often under $10,000 for software. Some sales to service bureaus might have a much higher priced hardware component, but the software has still been pretty cheap. There are still some ISVs operating in this market.

“Historically, the forms processing space has had a much higher value, mostly because the data being extracted has higher value and it has to be extracted accurately. With hardware, these form processing solutions often have sold for well over $100,000, with the software element likely being $80,000 or more

“As the IDR market emerged, we began to see solutions such as invoice processing integrated with ERP and mortgage processing with auto-classification. These systems are selling for much higher prices than simple scanning solutions. The bottom line is that the cost of capture technology has increased with the complexity and points of integration.

“I also think that as capture moves beyond ‘paper scanning’ into things like understanding e-mail, the price increases. People value ‘electronic processes,’ even conversion, higher than paper conversion processes.”

CEM stands for “customer engagement management” and Spencer views it as the next frontier for capture integration. “Most CEM vendors come from the call center world,” he said. “But the market is really a merger of call center and case management software.

“Where capture comes into to play is through its ability to apply real-time understanding to multiple input channels. If you can analyze the semantics of customer correspondence as it streams in, you can control the dialogue. It’s beyond what interactive voice response offers. Michael McBrien, the principal at Merlion Consulting, will present a session on opportunities for capture vendors in the CEM market.”
The Photo and Video Understanding session will be presented by Christopher Surdak of HP Autonomy. “What I find exciting in this area is the ability to do something like lift up the hood on your car and take a video of the engine that can be used to determine what is the matter, and then potentially launch a workflow to ship the correct part to you,” said Spencer. “I think this is an intriguing alternative to working with static documents. It has great applicability in areas like insurance claims.”

A complete conference agenda is available online: http://www.hsassocs.com/capture/conference-seminar-agenda/. And yes, DIR Editor Gammon will once again review the news of the past year (well, actually the past 10 years in a special anniversary edition) as well as make predictions for the future.

Developing a capture network
As much as the sessions, networking is a big draw for the HSA Capture Conference. “A lot of the same people come back every year for this purpose,” noted Spencer. “When you get away from a sales environment, oftentimes the discussions are very frank. Everybody talks about the industry. I’d say networking is half the conference.

“Over the years, our conference has led to several OEM deals. And from what I understand, ODT got sold to Captaris [at the 2007 event].”

Spencer feels the venue is also part of the attraction. “The mansion is small enough so that we can pretty much take over the place,” he said. “And it’s far enough away from New York City that people don’t get distracted, but close enough that we can leverage the transportation infrastructure. Also, people can make appointments in the city before or after the event.”

Spencer concluded that both the industry and his event have come a long way since 2005. “I think capture is mainstream now and when we started it wasn’t,” he said. “It was a little backwater application that only involved scanning paper. Some people still regard it as that, but as you can see from the evolution of our agenda, it is definitely changing.”

As usual, the event will kick-off with a reception and networking dinner on Wednesday evening, followed by a full-day of sessions (with some breaks) on Thursday. A special lobster bake will be included as part of the Thursday night “Meet the Speakers” festivities. Hope to see you there.

For more information: http://www.hsassocs.com/capture/