Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Software Storm, the MFP, and Document Management

I'd like to introduce Russ Hetzberg of PSIGEN Software Inc, as our Guest Blogger for May 2008.

The last few years have seen rapid growth in the type and quantity of software for MFPs. At the base of everything inside the MFP is the embedded real time operating system that runs on the processors. Above this you may find Java and/or .NET development platforms, interfaces to network file systems, network authentication technology, recognition technology, security technology, web servers, I/O management subsystems, and more.

All of this ‘platform enabling’ technology is enticing to independent software vendors, who have quickly added document management, print management, fax management, and more to the list of MFP software solution alternatives. These solutions deploy a variety of different architectures, from fully embedded within the MFP, to partly embedded and partly external, to fully external. The solution architecture can impact infrastructure issues as diverse as MFP performance, network security, and network bandwidth utilization.

With all of these new choices, MFP customers may feel that clear thinking about MFP software solution architecture is akin to determining the mix of software stack required for production Linux and/or Windows servers on the company network. The relevant question is how to help customers get an effective deployment in place, for a target application such as document management, in an increasingly complex software solutions landscape.

Good document management deployments for MFPs start with an accurate understanding of requirements. Adding a basic document capture and retrieval system to the printing/copying/faxing services of a few MFP devices can be easy enough. An unattended capture application can process scans received at a network folder, convert images to PDF with hidden text, and then leverage the full text OCR results to deliver retrieval using free desktop search tools. More complex document management installations may address requirements like multiple document types, capture workflow, document separation, document indexing, document quality/image pre-processing, and migration to content management systems.

The software storm for the MFP is a good thing. It has helped turn the MFP into a strategic platform for document management. And this is making the art of solution selling the key to success in this marketplace.

Russ Hertzberg has over 20 years of increasingly responsible experience with established technology providers (IBM, Novell, Scantron) and small cap/startup firms (NetSoft, PSIGEN Software, Inc). Russ has a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Brown University. He also completed the Executive Program in Management at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School.

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