When technology is constantly changing, how do you choose the best solution to meet your company’s present and future needs?
For example, companies might be hesitant to adopt cloud technology, and even if it does, its employees might be sticking to the older, familiar platforms. Additionally, mobile devices, such as the tablet and iPads, and social media are rapidly changing the expectations and habits of customers.
Through knowledge sharing, iPad usage, and expert customer service, technology enterprises are constantly trying to help businesses build confidence in new technology to ultimately mitigate inefficiencies and earn a competitive edge.
These challenges, along with the latest tools and technologies for enterprise content management, will be highlighted at info360 2012 (June 12–14; Javits Center, New York City).
Making New Habits Through New Technology
Changing habits can be difficult for both the company and its individual employees. A major initiative is helping businesses with a seamless transition into cloud technology by educating them on their options and creating a custom solution for their needs.
Cloud9 Real Time is an application hosting company that builds dynamic virtual servers to host applications, data and users in one central location. Attending conferences is vital for cloud computing companies, as education is the first step to understanding how the cloud can help your business. “We travel to conferences and offer educational presentations to inform business owners and managers on cloud technology,” explains Kacee Johnson, Executive Vice President of Cloud9 Real Time (San Diego, CA; Booth #754), which specializes in cloud-hosted financial applications. “Once we help decision makers understand cloud technology, it’s easier to get over old mentalities.”
Cloud9 Real Time’s booth will focus on its latest technology, Simply Cloud9, which eliminates the need for a connection manager to log into a platform. Simply Cloud9 allows clients to embed a login page directly on their website for users to access their cloud applications, branding the client’s name and moving more traffic to its website. Simply Cloud9 is built on the foundation of all Microsoft 2008 R2 technology and offers clients increased security with 256-bit encryption through portal login.
“With Simply Cloud9, you don’t need to buy the hardware, Windows Server License or Office. You provide the license numbers for your third-party applications and we take care of the rest,” Johnson remarks, pointing out the savings for companies.
Johnson has observed that some industries, such as legal, are more familiar than others with cloud technology. “It’s really just a matter of helping them implement what works best for their business to solve their individual needs while saving them money.”
Data safety is also an issue for companies. Cloud9 Real Time also offers a disaster-recovery plan, including automatic offsite back-ups, which Johnson emphasizes is safer than the common practice of keeping an on-site server and back-up storage unit in the same room. “What if there was a break in or a fire?” says Johnson. “Both systems would be lost. For those who are uneasy with letting their server out of their sight, I like to use the analogy of ‘do you still keep your money under your mattress?’ It’s a question of whether your valuable data is safer in your office or in a secure and vetted data center.”
Regarding security, Cloud9 Real Time has enterprise-level physical as well as software infrastructures that a small to medium-size business owner could not replicate without a huge investment. Businesses of all verticals have different data retention requirements, and many are considered permanent—the liability is on the company, so a disaster recovery plan, as well as verified backups, is critical. On top of that, the cost to store these physical files can mount quickly, another benefit, Johnson adds, of moving to the cloud. “We can set up and maintain their whole server and electronic storage for less, shifting their focus from IT to billable hours and their own revenue-producing business.”
Across multiple vertical industries, companies are still debating whether to maintain their internal IT departments or outsource to external experts. “It depends on how far along companies are accepting cloud services. It’s about their comfort level with outsourcing technology and letting it leave their hands on some level,” says Chris Schwab, SharePoint Engineering Director for Fpweb.net (St Louis, MO; Booth #635).
Noting that the health-care and finance industries have always been ahead of the curve, Schwab explains that “there’s no jumping feet first into cloud. Companies are developing a hybrid solution by keeping their existing legacy systems in house for the time being. It’s a dipping your toe in the water approach, which is a good way to pilot a first trip into cloud technology.”
Schwab points out that another trend is the redefinition of the company’s internal IT role, evolving from technical work into a more holistic role combining both business and technical knowledge. “Leaving the down and dirty technical aspects of SharePoint to external experts like Fpweb.net allows companies to focus more on the business side of SharePoint,” he says.
SharePoint hosting eliminates the need to bring internal security teams into the network, allowing companies to save money on IT. Additionally, Fpweb.net specializes in data monitoring and is completely focused on SharePoint from top to bottom. “It’s our company culture—even down to reception, customer care and marketing—everyone knows SharePoint. We focus on one thing and do it very well.”
So once a company has invested in SharePoint technology, how do they convince their employees to use it? Colligo Networks, Inc. (Vancouver, Canada; Booth #634), builds a suite of products that assist companies in driving user adoption. “People are used to collaborating with just email and Outlook,” says Trevor Dyck, Director of Product Development. “We bring SharePoint directly into the Outlook interface, so users can access and interact with SharePoint via an application they’re already comfortable with using.”
Dyck notes that the consumerization of IT can also aid SharePoint adoption. “People are used to having the latest and greatest technology, like iPads, in their personal lives, and they expect to be able to use them at work too,” explains Dyck. “Additionally, companies often supply their employees with iPads; it’s a device people love. So we introduced SharePoint into the iPad environment—it gets people excited about using SharePoint as well.”
Because companies have already made the investment in SharePoint, they are looking to use it for more things, like records management. Dyck has observed that SharePoint’s popularity is increasing in regulated industries where records management is vital, such as communications, oil and gas, government, construction, and utilities.
The legal industry is particularly opportune to taking advantage of SharePoint. “Law firms are rather information-centric and document-heavy businesses but still have old document management systems in place,” Dyck said. To capitalize on this opportunity, Colligo is currently developing a SharePoint-based bundle specifically designed for law firms and legal departments that want to switch to SharePoint as a client/matter-centric legal document management system (DMS).
An early version of Colligo’s legal DMS is being used by Microsoft’s legal department for email management. “We’re a Microsoft ISV partner and Microsoft is one of our reference customers. Microsoft routinely brings us into opportunities where a customer requires Colligo’s email and document management solutions for SharePoint.”
Technology on the Go
LEAD Technologies, Inc., (Charlotte, NC; Booth #335), whose LEADTOOLS imaging SDKs specialize in raster, document, medical, multimedia, vector and Internet imaging, is targeting its newest technology toward web and mobile-application developers. LEAD Technologies is focusing on the prevalence of mobile devices, particularly important to the medical field. “We see a lot of doctors and nurses running around with iPads to look at DICOM images and access their PACS,” said Greg Ross, Technical Marketing Engineer. “And our technology meets the need for mobile devices to display and process medical images on the go.”
LEAD recently launched two new HTML5 products—one for document and another for medical—to extend imaging technology across multiple platforms and mobile devices via HTML5, RESTful Web Services. Though a web-based application primarily designed for mobile devices, it is also useful on laptop or desktop systems using HTML5-enabled browsers.
In addition to the recent HTML5 products, LEAD is producing additional products to develop LEADTOOLS Anywhere. Targeted for the third quarter of 2012, LEADTOOLS will contain a new set of native libraries for iOS, Android and WinRT that include a comprehensive set of LEADTOOLS features, such as image formats and processing, OCR, PDF, DICOM, and PACS.
In addition to the document and medical fields, the military surveillance industry is another vertical market focus for LEAD Technologies. Remote-controlled planes, such as UAVs, equipped with video streaming technology are becoming more prevalent. LEAD Technologies provides the tools required to create ground stations that accurately decode, play and record these video streams without lag, providing soldiers the life-saving edge in surveillance they need.
ProfitStars, a Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., Company (Allen, Texas; Booth #453), has created an application for companies to leverage consumer use of mobile technology. The new Synergy Isign provides its customers with the means to sign electronic documents on an iPad, giving companies the option of taking the electronic signing process to the customer, instead of requiring the signor to be present at the institution.
Like most companies, ProfitStars recognizes the rapidly evolving customer base. “Customers of today aren’t like the customers of 10 or 15 years ago, with social media being what it is,” says Gene Hasker, Synergy Product Manager for ProfitStars. “Gen X and Y’ers aren’t going to banks and credit unions—they go to ATM machines. The Isign gets employees outside the building to where their customers are so he or she can sign the documents right from home.”
ProfitStars also provides Esign web, which allows customers to sign anything anywhere in the world where the Internet is available. Hasker uses the military as an example, where one spouse is home and the other is overseas. The Esign expedites the process and allows the deployed spouse to be part of transactions. The family doesn’t have to deal with Power of Attorney and it lets the distanced family member feel like part of something even if thousands of miles away.
Companies that use the Esign experience a direct benefit in that it eliminates the time and resources required to scan or copy paper documents that require signatures or initials. Esign also cuts down on costs through shipping and significantly reduces delays in the existing process.
Hasker says that the issue is no longer new users becoming comfortable with technology. “The issue now is upfront cost and framing it in the terms of how much companies will save in five years’ time. The Isign eliminates the cost of printing, faxing, scanning and indexing.” An additional savings is no longer needing to replace Topaz signature pads.
He notes that though the financial industry is the quickest to adopt this new technology, it will swiftly penetrate multiple verticals. This includes a mining client that uses the Isign instead of physical documents to keep track of trucks that enter the mine. “With what you can do with devices today, it’s all about seeing change coming and trying to meet that change. Companies that don’t adapt to these changes will see their business taken from them by those that do.”
The constantly changing landscape of enterprise content management continues to challenge companies. As a result, technology enterprises seek ways to educate their potential clients to guide them in making the correct decisions and encourage employees to use new tools. At info360 2012, both sides of the divide, technology enterprises and the vertical industries they serve, will converge to discuss and provide solutions.
info360 is the longest-running and most comprehensive event focused on providing actionable advice for information management. This annual event attracts business professionals and executive management seeking the latest technologies to capture, manage, share and store documents and digital content to support business processes, comply with governmental regulations, drive down costs and gain the competitive-edge technologies needed to put intelligence behind your information.
For nearly 10 years, info360 has been co-located with the ON DEMAND Conference & Expo. Together, info360 and ON DEMAND is the largest enterprise IT event in North America, representing the synergy of content and data throughout the information lifecycle—from creation to delivery and output.
Photo courtesy of ollesvensson