The Kofax journey
I have been working with Kofax for nearly 15 years now and over that time I have seen them develop from the de facto market leader in OCR and data capture, get lost in the wilder lands of Business Process Management and RPA, and now starting to carve out their niche in workflow automation. To me, the journey is just like that of a Butterfly!
Most Butterflies have three phases (OK four if you include the egg but that does not work in my analogy OK!) and I believe Kofax has been on a similar journey.
As a Caterpillar, Kofax was the scanning and OCR King or Queen. Bundled with just about every scanner, Kofax could turn a piece of paper into a digital image that was about as good as you were going to get. Small file size, image perfected, OCR ready and turned into your perfect format. On top of this the very hungry Caterpillar, ‘ate’ documents all day long and year after year got better AI, Algorithms, and techniques to turn those documents into digital data that could be ingested into an organisation’s back-end IT systems. There were lots of tools that could OCR but for many the acronym meant Occasionally Correct Recognition where as Kofax had multiple OCR engines and dozens of specialist techniques to find the real information hidden in OCR gibberish.
The next stage of a butterfly's life cycle takes place inside a chrysalis. To the outside world it may not look like much is happening, but on the inside, there are incredible processes occurring in this motionless casement. The caterpillar will break down entirely on a cellular level, and then reorganise itself into a new form.
You see, during this time, Kofax acquired new companies with amazing capabilities, a low code dynamic workflow engine, one of the most mature and scalable RPA tools, a digital signature platform and an in memory BI tool that could go toe to toe with the best in the market.
A few years ago, I wrote a very excited article about how I believed Kofax was the Swiss Army Knife of automation. Here in one platform were the key tools you needed to automate information intensive workflows. But there was a problem with this approach. When you just needed a screwdriver, you reached for a screwdriver and sometimes a proper pair of scissors are just better that those found on a penknife. So, it was with technology buyers. When you wanted RPA for example, you looked at the market and saw Kofax who might be in the top 2 or 3 but you went with what everyone was telling you was the best. Later on, you can worry about how that might scale or integrate with all the other tools needed to achieve true digital transformation. Buy in haste, repent at leisure.
Of course, inside the chrysalis Kofax was reorganising at the cellular level but to the outside it wasn’t always apparent where the beauty was.
What I saw at the 2021 Kofax Accelerate annual conference was a glimpse of the beautiful butterfly that is emerging from all the internal changes. We saw a single, integrated automation platform that not only harnesses all the capabilities of the Kofax product suite, but in a very mature move, Kofax have made this open and allows you to embed other tools you may have already invested in. So, if you have chosen another RPA tool, no problem this can be called or pushed to just as easily as the internal Kofax one. To me, Kofax have created the best of many tools and integrated them together into a single solution that can achieve so much for an organisation. A big, beautiful technology butterfly!
But what does this mean to customers?
At the Accelerate 2021 conference, we heard from Global Banks, Insurers, Manufacturers and many other industries how they were using this platform to transform their organisations at scale.
We heard how the low-code, no-code approach was allowing citizen developers to redefine how better outcomes are rolled out. No longer are you tied to the traditional bottleneck of what your IT department can deliver but every department either customer-facing, or back office, can design and deliver automation at scale. It was powerful stuff.
What kept hitting me as I listened to these organisations talking about their successful projects was that they were achieving this because they had a single tool that they themselves could deliver results with.
No longer was Kofax a swiss army knife that has lots of capabilities, but you wouldn’t reach for any one of them by choice.
In fact, the opposite view was being told. That in going out to market and having one tool for BPM and another for OCR and a different one for RPA was creating an internal nightmare of integration and there was no way a citizen developer could learn 6 or seven different technologies. Then IT would have to integrate all these separate tools into their hundreds of back-end systems and as any one of these tools got updated there would be a continual headache of migration and regression testing and internal re-education. Many of these organisations had tried this approach in the past but abandoned it as they just couldn’t scale without a single platform.
The only industry that wins when you have lots of disparate tools to achieve automation, are the system integrators. They will earn billions from your confusion. It is interesting to see what tools they recommend, a single platform that is quick to deliver and you build out your own automations? or lots of separate tools that each take months and years for them to deploy, integrate and then need updating before you can even get to use them. Call me cynical but why would Turkeys vote for Christmas? “Buy this tool and you won’t need us at all - you can do it all yourself!”.
Of course, the market will decide if this is a winning approach and only then will we be able to tell if Kofax have found their own “Blue Ocean”. After nearly 10 years of metamorphosis many of my customers still call their Kofax implementation the “OCR project”!
Six Million Dollar Man or Frankenstein, you choose ...
So, I guess you have a choice. When I grew up there was a hero on TV called the Six Million Dollar Man. He was the best fusion of technology and human. Just like Kofax he had a bionic eye that can see the world better than you can. Kofax can read paper documents, emails, portals, websites, application screens, uploads, web bots and even reach out to mobile phones and look through their cameras to name but a few options and use AI, ML and NLP to quickly understand what it sees and what is needing to be done. Then our TV Hero had bionic arms and legs to do things quicker and better than you could, which of course Kofax with its process orchestration and automation tools can also do.
Or you could approach automation like Dr. Frankenstein and cobble together lots of separate body parts, try and stitch them together and use an unbelievable amount of energy to build a monster.
Want to know more?
Twofold Ltd assists businesses to overcome these challenges with our range of mailroom equipment and software solutions. From mailroom equipment, scanning and capture, to document management and full digital transformation, contact us via the form here, or give the team a call on 0118 951 9800.