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Content and Document Management Choices

Investing in a management solution for your content and document assets can make or break a company. We investigate options from some of the market’s top vendors.

By Cheryl Dangel Cullen

If you can’t find a document, it isn’t of much value. That’s the problem with today’s world of digital files. While we would once purge documents from overstuffed file cabinets on a regular basis, we now tend to keep digital files because they occupy intangible space on a server, hard drive, or CD. The problem is, we often discover it is easier to find a needle in a haystack than a document from among the hundreds of thousands of files we’ve stored away.

In the first of this three-part series, we defined content management (CM) and outlined the benefits of investing in a system that makes storing and retrieving documents easy. In part two of this series, we’re taking a look at some of the top content management programs on the market, what they offer in comparison to the competition, and what it costs to get organized.

Development Tools
If your goal is to develop a specialized document input system that uses the whole range of features offered by an optical character recognition (OCR) system, such as ABBYY USA’s FineReader 6.0 Corporate Edition, then you may want to consider FineReader 6.0 Scripting Edition. This development tool allows users to communicate with a FineReader 6.0 application via the automation application programming interface (API). This interface allows the developer to use FineReader 7.0 Corporate Edition as an automation component, i.e. integrate it into his or her own Windows applications as automation clients and control it. [FIG 1-ABBYY Interface Corp]

ABBYY USA bills its FineReader Engine 7.0 Software Development Kit (SDK) as the next generation tool kit for integrating ABBYY OCR, ICR, OMR, and barcode recognition technologies into Windows applications.

In addition to core platform enhancements to overall accuracy, document analysis, and export functions, FineReader Engine 7.0 adds sophisticated new modules for recognition of ancient and historical texts, PDF files, invoices, barcodes, and Asian characters.

"The FineReader line of award-winning OCR products offers superior accuracy and impeccable format retention. FineReader Scripting Edition is a unique product that offers open API and allows IT professionals to customize and integrate FineReader OCR into existing document management systems with a few lines of code," says Dean Tang, president and CEO, ABBYY USA.

FineReader Engine SDK is a recognition tool kit that offers a complete set of recognition technologies including OCR, ICR, OMR, and barcode recognition. It also includes Japanese and Chinese OCR, and a component designed to recognize 19th century fractor print. Version 7.0 offers a modular approach that allows developers the option to select the recognition components to meet varying recognition needs.

ABBYY USA works in the government, education, legal, financial and banking, and business markets serving such clients as Kofax, Cardiff, Legato, Optika, and Notable Solutions, Inc. FineReader Scripting Edition starts at $2000 and FineReader Engine pricing starts at $4500, plus run-times.

Document and Digital Asset Management
The Documentum Enterprise Document Management and Digital Asset Management solution is part of Documentum 5, the company’s leading enterprise content management (ECM) platform. Documentum 5 supports document management, Web CM, digital asset management, records management, collaboration, and compliance.

"Documentum provides a single, unified unstructured content infrastructure, able to handle all content types with rich, intelligent services. The intelligence with which Documentum handles the varied content types sets its solution apart," says Naomi Miller, director, enterprise document management product marketing, Documentum.

"A key competitive strength for Documentum is the breadth and depth of its enterprise content management (ECM) offering—document, Web content, digital asset management and collaboration—in a single, integrated platform. The Documentum ECM platform enables the creation, management, delivery, sharing, and archiving of all types of content, from documents, email, instant messages, and chat to Web pages, XML files, and rich media. The breadth of Documentum’s current solutions enables it to provide the content management backbone within an organization, while also supplying vertical solution expertise required by most industries."

Documentum’s customers are among the largest and most familiar companies in the world including Bechtel, Corporate Express, Eastman Kodak, the Environmental Protection Agency, Food & Drug Administration, Ford Motor Company, and Nestlé. The company serves customers across all markets, with significant market presence within the automotive/transportation, discrete manufacturing, financial services, government, high-tech, life sciences, media and entertainment, publishing, and process industries.

An in-house implementation can start at $100K and go up to several million dollars. "It depends on the company’s needs and whether they are interested in just a Web content management solution or a complete enterprise content management strategy for managing all unstructured content across the entire company," says Miller. If that’s too much for your budget, Documentum offers an ASP version of its collaboration product, Documentum eRoom, which is based on the number of users and starts at $599 per month. 

In-House or ASP? "In general, an ASP solution offers lower up-front cost. Customers can get up and running pretty quickly without the investment in hardware and IT staff," says Miller. "However, implementing an ASP solution can result in less flexibility in addressing custom needs since they typically have to adhere to a pretty standard, out-of-the box solution in order to manage costs. In-house solutions provide more control and flexibility in terms of custom business requirements."

Content Management
The IBM Content Manager family of products provides a foundation for managing, accessing, and integrating critical business information on demand. It lets users integrate all forms of content—document, Web, image, rich media—across diverse business processes and applications.

"IBM DB2 Content Manager integrates with existing hardware and software investments, both IBM and non-IBM, enabling customers to leverage common infrastructure, achieve a lower cost of ownership, and deliver new, powerful information and services to customers, partners, and employees where and when needed," says Debra Taufen, director of marketing, IBM DB2 Content Management.

"Unlike any other ECM vendor, IBM extends its lead in content management by delivering the most comprehensive, integrated set of software offerings to manage all forms of information across the enterprise and link it to core processes, including document management, Web application integration, Web content publishing and portals, regulatory compliance, information and email archiving, rich media, and more," Taufen says. "As confirmed by multiple analysts, including Gartner and Ovum, IBM is the market leader in ECM. IBM delivers the most comprehensive, integrated and truly end-to-end ECM solution in the industry."

"IBM’s Content Management portfolio is the only ECM offering that can leverage the entire IBM portfolio of products, including WebSphere Portal and MQ software, Lotus collaboration tools, and Tivoli storage management, hardware, and services, delivering a total solution to meet customer needs. IBM is the only vendor than can help organizations manage the full information lifecycle including document and records management, email, collaboration, privacy, digital rights, archiving, and storage," Taufen adds.

The National Geographic Society, CNN, Ogilvy & Mather, YWCA, New York State Lottery, and Bell Canada are among 10,000 organizations worldwide in a variety of industries including insurance, government, finance, and media and entertainment that rely on IBM's ECM technology. IBM says that its content management technology helps companies improve efficiencies, transform operations to better serve customers, and lower the total cost of computing, but won’t disclose actual costs to get up and running.

Flexible Publishing Tools
Object Publishing Software offers a suite of products within ObjectPublisher that includes ObjectPublisher Content Management System, which provides fast, easy, and flexible management of highly granular product data. It features Internet-based authoring, user-defined attributes, multiple hierarchies, data scrubbing tools, and export to XML and other formats.

The suite also features ObjectPublisher Catalog-on-Demand, a simple but powerful Web-based tool for non-technical users that allows creation of custom catalogs in a variety of formats and with any combination of products, and ObjectPublisher FreeDesign, a Web-based XTension to QuarkXPress for producing business and consumer catalogs, flyers, brochures, and other data-rich publications of any complexity and layout. "Productivity is increased ten times the first time, and 100 times subsequent times," says Tim Hennings, president, Object Publisher Software, Inc.

"Our focus is on managing and publishing attribute-rich content for catalogs, directories, flyers, direct mail, and other market-oriented publications. Unlike other content management solutions, our focus is on print publishing and ease of deployment," says Hennings.

Features that Object Publisher says it offers that the competition does not include choice of hosted or licensed software, a focus on attribute-rich product information, support for ready-to-publish printed output, super-fast deployment—one hour for simple, one day for complex—powerful import/export, low startup cost, pay-as-you-go, and a ten year track record of profitability and stability.

Companies sold on Object Publishing Software’s benefits include 3M, Alcatel, an undisclosed top financial institution, a premier provider of credit cards, and various distribution buying groups. "Our primary focus is manufacturing and distribution. We also serve the financial services market, universities, directory publishers, and others," Hennings says.

All Object Publisher products are available through a hosted ASP or a license. The least expensive route is with an ASP, which will cost $10,000 to start, plus $1,000 to $3,000 per month thereafter. The fee to license the program runs between $50,000 to $300,000, depending on the configuration and other requirements.

A hosted ASP is, "ten times less expensive," says Hennings, citing that there is no system software to install, there are lower staff requirements, it is easier to troubleshoot, and enhancements and updates are much easier and faster. "One very interesting intangible is that it encourages a partnership between the vendor and the customer, because compensation is based on usage. So the more closely the two are working together, the more likely it is that the system will be used to its potential," he adds.

One negative is, "You’re dependent on your Internet connection. But you’re dependent on this anyway," Hennings says.

If you choose to have an in-house license, the primary advantage, according to Hennings is that you still have the software even if the vendor becomes unstable or has operating problems, financial or otherwise. The downfall is it requires a huge up-front investment, ongoing maintenance, staff requirements, training, and support

Internet Publishing Tools
The Publicus Online Publishing System Release 5.3 from SAXoTECH is a modular, extensible system for publishing news and advertising content on the Internet. It is designed to help media companies easily manage and deliver content to their readers in a variety of electronic formats. It was built from the ground up as an XML-based, 100 percent Web native, or hosted, system, and with it, SAXoTECH has created a wide range of enterprise content delivery applications.

"Our system is designed specifically to meet the online content management needs of the newspaper industry—particular vertical market," says Robert A. Laszlo, vice president of marketing, SAXoTECH, Inc. "Newspapers need a dynamic system that is capable of handling almost continuous content publishing, a very large library of existing published material—hundreds of new stories per day—at a very high volume of page displays. They also want to be able to build sites and share content fairly easily with a minimal online technical staff. So far, no other vendor can offer this kind of solution to the newspaper industry."

SAXoTECH markets its products to newspapers and trade magazines doing online publishing. Among its top customers are The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group, which consists of 15 newspapers owned by The New York Times, the Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts, The Blade in Ohio, CanadaEast.com, CareerBeacon.com in Canada, and Reno.com.

SAXoTECH offers both an ASP-hosted solution or the client can host the system in-house. Price depends on the size of the newspaper’s audience. "Our hosting service offers a pretty significant cost-savings over internal hosting, thanks to the economy of scale that we have," says Laszlo. "We are hosting a significant number of newspaper sites today."

Web Layout Publishing Tools
The Gutenberg Publishing System from Seattle Publishing, Inc., utilizes a database for the management, editing, proofing, and flowing of formatted product data into page layout programs or to the Web. With Gutenberg, there are several modules for support and delivery of content: the Catalog module, Sales Flyer module, Web site module, Intranet module, and CD module.

"Unlike the majority of our competitors who have taken a Web-centric approach to content management, including bi-directional data flow between the database and the page layout application, the methodology behind Gutenberg is based on 30 years of publishing experience," says Jay Stilwell project director, Seattle Publishing, Inc. "Our development process combines time-tested publishing traditions with the latest technology. We believe that page design flexibility is one of the most important factors. Instead of creating an inflexible page design by applying data tags to the page design layout, the user can re-flow data into the page layout with little impact to the production and design process."

"The Gutenberg Publishing System focuses on the greatest problem most companies face when producing publications, Web sites, or sales flyers—locating, organizing, and editing the content," explains Paul Clark, developer, Seattle Publishing, Inc. "A lot of our competitors have built proprietary software solutions, whereas our focus is to use existing applications to create CMS software. Also, as a full-service publishing company we offer additional outsourcing services, such as data integration, editing, proofing, project management, and final publication production, which many of our clients choose to utilize so that can focus on their core business functions."

Seattle Publishing markets its system to B2B and B2C catalogers, newspapers, and business directories. Topping its client list is Costco Wholesale, Gensco-Albina, Broadcast Supply Worldwide, African American Business Directory, and Bicycle Paper.

The Gutenberg Publishing System with the catalog module will cost $50,000 for the licensed version. An ASP-hosted version of the same system is $35,000. Additional modules are extra.

An in-house hosted license will give you company-wide system integration with system access speed, according to Stilwell. Conversely, a Web-hosted ASP is less expensive. It lets you outsource system maintenance, gives the ability to work beyond the internal IS department, requires less staff, and provides opportunities for outsourcing additional services.

Workgroup Document and Content Management
DocuShare 3.1, Xerox’s Web-based document and CM software, provides workgroup and enterprise customers enhanced document workflow and collaboration capabilities. Built on a Java platform, DocuShare 3.1 supports additional software plug-ins and add-on components for designing, monitoring, and reporting vertical workflows; creating and sharing Web pages; and creating customized DocuShare work environments.

Imaging and Repository Services, is a cost-effective method from Xerox Global Services for capture, conversion, and online digital storage of all document types, digital images, and related data streams.

These services help clients reduce costs associated with staffing and off-site storage, enhance customer service, retain critical information, and safeguard mission-critical documents from the negative effects of time, exposure and loss. Added security functions through Xerox Global Services’ digital repository allow companies to track usage of information.

Client Account Lifecycle Management is another feature that offers centralized, off-site conversion of paper originals to digital format and enables users to view, edit, approve and track documents. Xerox-hosted, Web-based document and CM repositories allow businesses to meet regulatory and legal requirements related to client accounts and investment decisions.

"Since we evaluate the entire workflow of an organization, Xerox Global Services often partners with other vendors in the services space to offer the best solutions," says Larry Wash, vice president, Managed Services Operations, Xerox Global Services.

"A key offering unique to Xerox Global Services is the ability to host and manage document and content management systems on a global basis. Clients do not have to build/buy, integrate, or manage the various technologies and processes that enable enterprise document and content management. Rather, they can leverage our global data centers, designed specifically to host and manage document and content management repositories."

"Xerox offers one of the most cost-effective, easy to use and flexible document management solutions on the market," says Colman Murphy, product manager for Xerox DocuShare. "DocuShare can be downloaded from the Web and operated in as little as an hour. Document management programs such as Canon’s ImageWARE and Ricoh’s eCabinet are hardware-based and cannot be used as standalone solutions. DocuShare can operate as a standalone document and content management program, and also be integrated with Xerox multifunction devices for a complete imaging solution."

Xerox serves clients in healthcare, insurance and financial services, the public sector, manufacturing, retailing, banking and investments, as well as high-tech and communications. Customers include Dillard’s, Kaiser Permanente, Raytheon, Tulane University, and Stevens Healthcare.

The cost to implement programs from Xerox Global Services varies depending on the complexity of the application and the type of process to be improved. The cost for getting on board with Xerox DocuShare is much more specific. The entry-level list price for a complete DocuShare system with ten seats is $4,045, and a 100-seat system is $9,995. Existing DocuShare 3.0 customers with a support agreement can upgrade to DocuShare 3.1 at no charge. Add-on components are sold separately and start at $12,500. "This pricing model allows users to have an affordable method of scaling the product as their business grows," says Murphy.

The advantages of going in-house include the ability to leverage fixed infrastructure and investments and keep content and infrastructure within their environment, according to Wash. The cons, he mentions, include the costs of maintaining a staff to support the software and associated infrastructure; the capital expense to procure the requisite hardware, software, and other infrastructure; and the inflexibility of upgrading the infrastructure to benefit from technology/software upgrades. "Organizations are generally stuck with using the system(s) for the depreciation period," he adds. Plus users, "must maintain a knowledge-base of in-house resources to maintain and support the applications and respective processes."

Those who opt to have their system hosted by an ASP don’t require any capital investment for hardware, software, and infrastructure. There’s no need to invest in in-house staff to manage and support the applications, environment, and processes; users pay as a utility for what they use/need; and they have the ability to refresh applications and infrastructure as technology improves.

On the negative side, all their content and documents are managed off-site and as already stated, the costs are much higher with outsourcing.

For a look into the future of CM, look for part three of this series that will look at where content and document management tools will be in five years.

Mar2004, Digital Publishing Solutions

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