While the cloud ECM market seems to be maturing nicely, cloud capture is still in its nascent stages. At the recent Harvey Spencer Associates Capture Conference, HSA VP of Research Mike Spang estimated that in 2016, cloud sales made up about 4% of the document capture market’s $3.6 billion in revenue. Still, that represented 150% growth from the previous year.
A good bulk of this revenue seems to be coming from ECM vendors like DocuWare, which offer cloud capture to complement their cloud-based ECM. However, within the past couple years, we’ve seen a slew of dedicated capture ISVs make cloud plays as well. The latest is KnowledgeLake. At September’s Microsoft Ignite Conference in Orlando, the PFU America subsidiary launched its cloud capture platform.
The first product available on the KnowledgeLake Cloud, the capture platform is basically KnowledgeLake Capture Server Professional running in Azure. At its heart, Capture Server Pro is PaperStream Server, a browser-based capture application originally brought to market by KnowledgeLake’s sister company Fujitsu Computer Products of America [see DIR 3/18/16]. Last summer, it was announced that KnowledgeLake had taken over development of the product.
“We showcased Capture Server Pro at the Ignite event last year,” said Jason Burian, director of product management for KnowledgeLake. “It’s typically installed on premises and sold through a perpetual licensing model. Because we focused on building the software the right way from the beginning, it’s always been cloud ready. So, customers that wanted to run it on Azure, AWS, or a virtual machine have always had the option of doing that. But, it required some IT investment on the part of the customers as well as setting up their own hosting environment.
“The next logical step for us was launching a SaaS version, which is what we’ve done on the KnowledgeLake Cloud. The capture service has the same features and functions as our on premises software, it’s just running in an Azure data center that we manage. The customer doesn’t have to worry about operating systems, installations, or IT support.”
KnowledgeLake, which has a rich history of image-enabling SharePoint installations, has leveraged its relationship with Microsoft to set up its cloud. “The KnowledgeLake Cloud is a new platform for delivering our software,” said Burian. “We will continue to support on premises implementations for customers who want to own a version of the software.
“We feel Microsoft has the best cloud story in the world. For people who have security questions, we can tell them that Microsoft spends more on security than anybody in the world. We also do our own testing and security audits. We can give customers assurance that their documents come into our cloud, a capture process is executed, and they ultimately end up in their repository.”
As you’d expect, the KnowledgeLake Cloud capture service enables a connection to Microsoft repositories SharePoint, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business. In addition, there are out-of-the-box integrations (no pun intended) to Box, Egnyte (an EFSS for business service), and AODocs (a document management application that can be integrated with Google Docs). The KLake cloud capture service can also release into file shares.
The same instance of the service can be easily configured to release into multiple destinations. “As AIIM studies have shown, many users have multiple places where they store documents,” said Burian. “And the user doesn’t even have to know where a document is ultimately going. The administrator sets up the processes.”
KnowledgeLake’s capture service is able to automatically ingest meta data fields used by destination repositories and utilize them in an indexing step. “One advantage to using our capture service on the front end of an application like Box is that it can be leveraged to implement some of robust indexing features that ECM users expect but are lacking in Box,” said Burian. “This includes options like marking a field as required, utilizing database looks-ups, and attaching drop-down lists.”
KnowledgeLake announced the Box integration as last month’s BoxWorks event, which featured some 8,000 attendees and was held in San Francisco. Burian noted that KnowledgeLake can also potentially do custom integration for customers and that it will continue to expand its software’s capabilities. “If someone is already utilizing a cloud repository, it’s natural for them to look at cloud capture,” said Burian. “However, creating cloud integrations is not quite as simple and straight forward as on premises connections. There is an extra layer of complexity because you have to make sure the cloud systems can talk to each other.”
Forging a new trail
The KnowledgeLake cloud capture service can be used to enable multi-channel input from sources like MFPs, TWAIN scanners, e-mails, fax servers, and mobile devices. The Web-based interface, presented in HTML 5, enables users to drag-and-drop digital content submissions from desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Once an image is uploaded it can be cleaned up and processed utilizing Fujitsu’s PaperStream IP technology. Full-text OCR can also be applied, and images can be output as TIFFs or PDFs.
This can all be set up through a drag-and-drop GUI interface. “We’ve introduced some usability enhancements specific to the cloud to make it easier for people to get started,” said Burian. “This includes a robust set of training and onboarding tools. We are offering white glove support even to our free trial users. We are here to make sure our customers are successful with our software.”
When users download a free trial, they are given an estimate of how much a paid subscription would cost. “Pricing is based on a combination of document volumes and the number of users,” said Burian. “We eventually plan to offer some sort of feature packs divided into tiers like standard, professional, and enterprise. Right now, we are trying to keep it as simple as possible to create a lower barrier to entry.”
One challenge historically associated with cloud-based capture is the processor intensive nature of it. “We have a strong relationship with Microsoft,” noted Burian. “We have ways to ensure that our cloud service is always up and that we can meet the expectations that our customers have, while still controlling costs. Our expectations are that our customers’ capture experiences should be the same no matter what deployment option they choose. There will be no degradation related to going with the cloud.”
In addition, Burian noted that KnowledgeLake is excited about being able to increase the frequency of its technology refreshes for cloud users. “Instead of doing two major feature releases per year like you see with most on premises capture applications, we can deliver exciting new capabilities to our customers every month.”
KnowledgeLake VP of Marketing Alayne Pregeant, who has a strong resume marketing on-premises capture applications, is now challenged with bringing a cloud capture service to market. KnowledgeLake has launched online and social media initiatives to help it drive free trials. “So far, we are finding more success with leads born digitally vs. prospects we meet face-to-face at an event,” noted Pregeant.
The ISV is working with both Box and Microsoft to get its capture service into their online marketplaces. “There is a lot more to come related to the KnowledgeLake Cloud,” noted Bernie Schweiss, KnowledgeLake’s CEO. “We will have more announcements forthcoming.”