Here’s the second in our series of conversations at the recent, and very successful AIIM Forum Europe held in London in November. thedmcollaborators Editor was able to network with some of the great and the good of the Content Services sector, and we continue to share some of the fruits of our conversations with them. This week we have Dave Tyler, who of course we’re sure you will know is Editor of both Document Manager and Storage magazines.
We asked Dave to predict the shape of things to come in our market based on this uniquely well-placed viewpoint, and this is what he told us:
“Top of mind thing in this industry this year, I think, has been AI/RPA/Machine Learning. Yes, those were the trends that we were talking about as coming through say a year or more ago, agreed, but it does feel as though those technologies have moved into the broader market; they’re generally more accepted. When you see news stories on the BBC website about robotics with pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Terminator’, you know some of these concepts at least have gone mainstream.
“But whether ‘AI’ here will prove to be, say, RPA, in the sense we know it and in the sense of Alaris and such like are offering as products, is a slightly different question. I think, as with all of these technologies, there’s been this slight marketing spin put on it so that everything suddenly sounds like AI… everything sounds like robotics, whereas a lot of it really is BPM by another name.
“I think a lot of all that stuff is really process automation, which we’re very good at, and which we’ve been doing for a number of years.”
“New entrants are coming in with very specific ways of doing things: companies like UiPath, Blue Prism, and so forth are doing very well for themselves without necessarily tying into what the Document and Content Management market is doing. I think one of the things that we’re seeing now, really in the last six months or so, is a bit of an overlap between those universes, though. Firms are working together.
“There is also that regular thing where the big players look at emerging technologies and say, ‘We need to develop that internally, or we’re going to buy someone that’s very good at it.’ I think there’s going to be a record of that happening, the kind of consolidation of robotics particularly into the larger DM and CM vendors. Robotics, I think, is a major aspect of what’s going to be happening in terms of how content flows through organisations over the next few years, whether it’s still going to be called robotic process automation, or another phrase emerges is another matter entirely, so this makes a lot of sense.”
A Rose By Any Other Metadata Tag
“The other thing we are seeing is Content Services, which last year was being pitched as the ‘replacement’, if you like, for Document and Content Management. I suspect some of the pure Content Services players are still there and doing extremely well for themselves. I think some of the traditional vendors have tried to make a play into that field by slightly re-pitching and rebranding what they do, and adding a content layer above what they were doing with traditional content management.
“The problem there is that I’m not sure we’re seeing a lot of genuine success stories coming out of those yet, though, so it’ll be interesting to see, maybe by the end of next year, whether some of the pure Content players have risen to the top of that pile, and some of the traditional people might have just sat back a little bit and kind of decided to ‘stick to their knitting,’ and talk more about integration with those companies rather than trying to replace what they do.”
Through A Scanner Darkly
“Another area that I suppose I have been watching quite closely recently is the capture market. A lot of the largest scanner companies that have been quite active in the last few months, having been very quiet for a long time… I’m suddenly seeing a lot of launches coming out of a number of scanner companies, and there seems to be a shift amongst those guys towards a solutions approach (though I know we’ve heard that before!) —so rather than ‘we’re selling a scanner through a reseller’, it’s more ‘We’re selling a capture solution in partnership with these vendors’. They’re having to tweak their offerings so that it’s no longer just a hardware sell into a partner. It’s much more talking about ‘let’s do line of business integrations upfront so we’re making the scanners more intelligent to begin with in a proper sort of on-boarding way,’ and I think that’s going to make a difference.
“Actually, I think the scanner market will do well out of that, because they obviously know what they’re doing in terms of their technologies on the one hand, and I think there is a demand for that, as well as more people are becoming more conscious of the idea. It comes back to this RPA automation story; people are saying, look, we need a front end for that, an on-boarding process for that. I think in a lot of the scanner businesses there’s an opportunity there, but they need to make the solution for the offer much more intuitive, much more user-driven, and less about needing somebody who knows how scanners work and how capture works.
“You don’t need somebody who’s a capture expert anymore; you need a knowledge worker, someone sitting at their desk saying I just need to press one button and it’s going to go into the process and be kicked off.
“Yes, they’ve talked about doing that for a number of years, but I think some of the technologies I’ve seen just in the last year or so coming out of Fujitsu and Alaris particularly – I think that they are getting smarter.”
AIIM Forum Europe was held on the 19th of November, which built on 17 years of success of the previous show, AIIM Forum UK but was re-modelled for 2019 to AIIM Forum Europe
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