Kofax has finally unveiled TotalAgility 7.0, a unified platform for the development and deployment of smart process applications. The platform is the culmination of four years’ work, US$ 125 million in investment, and a rethink of how we manage agile, dynamic and mobile business in the face of changing enterprise work cultures.
Just before the launch we sat down with David Lewis, Vice President of Product Development, at Kofax to find out about the new release and what is driving Kofax’s focus on the development of smart process applications.
Business Interactions in Mobile World
Like many areas of IT, the way we do business has been severely disrupted by the emergence of technologies that make workers mobile. More importantly, Lewis says, it has changed the way we approach work and how work gets done.
The technology has changed the way we interact between people – smartphones, tablets and other mobile enabling technologies. We now want to be able to do business from the location we are at, and at a given moment. We want to do it there, and we want to do it now."
While the physical impacts of this are clear -- less people in the enterprise, more people on the road -- it is also having a profound effect on how we interact with other business people, our productivity, and the technologies we need to meet productivity targets.
However, while there is nothing particularly ground breaking here, he says, what is striking is that even among vendors that are producing mobile technologies, little thought has actually gone into the implications of this:
Vendors really need to understand the way people are changing and how they want to interact. Indeed, business has become a series of interactive conversations, between organizations and their customers, suppliers and even employees… We believe that companies that get this relationship right, that understand this relationship, will come out on top. Those that don’t are going to have to learn to adapt, or close up."
Enterprise Systems of Record
It is this new, emerging work dynamic that is the driving force behind the development of TotalAgility 7.0. The new solution is a response to those enterprises that have invested heavily in the applications that are at the core of this new working environment, in particular systems of record like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and even Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems.
While vendors have been optimizing these systems of records since 2000, and have made them as efficient as possible, the new working dynamic is changing the way enterprises should be looking at this.
The systems of record are only as good as the information that gets into them. However, the changing landscape of mobility has changed this considerably as information lands in those systems in many different ways… these systems of records now need to adapt to information coming from social networks, web portals, smart devices and many others."
On top of this, there is the problem of processes and how the information that feeds into these enterprise systems are added to different enterprise processes.
Lewis says that while this is an important problem across the entire work spectrum, the very first of those processes, where information is taken into the enterprise in the first place, is the most important.
…we believe that it is absolutely critical that enterprises are outstanding in the first of those process, where customer facing and intensive interactions can be slow, clumsy and prone to errors… and that’s what we call the First Mile challenge... it’s the first mile of your interactions with customers, and is typified by intensive information exchange..."
Kofax TotalAgility 7.0
TotalAgility 7.0 is Kofax’s response to this challenge. The goal, Lewis says, was to create a platform that took all these considerations on board and enabled users to build out solutions that would tie all these elements together.
In practical terms this means providing a platform that offers a combination of capture, business process management (BPM), dynamic case management (DCM), data integration, analytics and mobile capabilities on a single, unified platform.
If that sounds like a substantial platform, it’s probably because it is, and a lot more more too. The original concept was developed more than 4 years ago and has seen substantial work done on Kofax’s own products, as well as bringing in other products from the outside through acquisitions, particularly the acquisition of Singularity.
The result has been US$ 125 million in investment and research to provide what Kofax describes as “the essential link” between an organization’s systems of engagement and systems of record.
What Kofax developed in v7.0 is a browser-based platform with a service orientated architecture, and a whole bunch of different licensing models, including an on-premises version, and a multi-tenant cloud-based version hosted on Azure.
Whatever way you go, ultimately the result is “agile” business that responds to customer needs quickly and efficiently without have to alter, or modify, their existing ERP, CRM, ECM, line of business and other enterprise software applications.
If the commercial potential approach to the development of smart process applications is not yet clear, then it should become so very soon. According to research carried out by Forrester for Kofax in December last year the market for these products will grow from US$ 0.6 billion in 2012 to US$ 3.9 billion in 2016, which represents an annual compound growth rate of close to 60%.
Limited as the market may be at the moment, with figures like this, it's certain to start attracting a lot of interest soon. If Kofax is getting the jump on competitors here, it won’t be long before we see a lot more jostling for market position.