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Continuing its run on acquisitions -- even if breaking the recent mould of buying to expand its analytics business -- IBM (news, site) has just announced the acquisition of document capture vendor Datacap.

Typically, terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition will add new technology that will enable users to extract data from structured and unstructured formats, including information from tax returns, invoices and other forms, as well as email and PowerPoint presentations.

If the acquisition comes as a bit of a surprise, the surprise is probably justified in that at least some of Datacap’s (news, site) capabilities overlap with those provided by FileNet, IBM's enterprise content management software.

Document Capture Strategy

However, IBM has said that it intends to make Datacap “the foundation of IBM's document capture strategy” as its “approach to image capture, using sophisticated business rules management, sets it above the rest in the industry and provides the most complementary capabilities for IBM.”

A tacit admission that it is unhappy with FileNet’s capture abilities or not, IBM says the new addition also has an eye to compliance requirements.

Datacap's Taskmaster

Datacap's Taskmaster capture platform provides for the scanning and indexing of document images directly into content management software as well as automatically capturing data from documents.

Using a library that includes hundreds of script-based rules to capture and classify documents, Datacap's current version can capture information from structured, variable or unstructured forms.

All information captured with Datacap can then be subject to business process management software, which FileNet also provides, so that data captured even from unstructured sources will be subjected to business rules-based automation from start to finish.

Not only will Datacap manage the increasing document loads across large businesses, but it will also provide a solution that assists compliance with burgeoning regulatory requirements by ingesting documents and loading them into business processes quickly.

Datacap’s Bonuses

Of course, with the acquisition IBM is also buying a considerable client portfolio of over 200 heavy-weights including the Dow Jones, Goodyear and a long list of federal and state organizations, many in the health and finance sectors.

Another point of interest is that while IBM and Datacap have been partners for 15 years, Datacap has also established partnerships with a number of companies that compete with IBM in the ECM space, particularly companies like Oracle, Open Text and EMC.

And finally, while Datacap will be directly integrated with IBM's enterprise content management business, it should also add to the business analytics division too as the more information ingested, the better the analytics.