Kurzweil, the Wisdom of Harvey Spencer, & Kofax TA 7.0

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A couple weeks ago at Kodak Alaris’ excellent Global Directions 13 Conference, noted futurist and technology author Ray Kurzweil gave the keynote. As I noted earlier, he totally delivered on the hype, and gave an excellent talk discussing everything from his roots in the document imaging industry to how and why we are going to live much longer in the near future. The main theme of his talk was how information technology grows at an exponential, and not a linear, speed. This causes people to underestimate the improvements that will be made a few years down the road, and as a result, the effect these improvements will have on our lives.

Related to this, Kurzweil noted that people developing technology products need to be working on stuff that makes sense three to four years down the road. This made me reflect on the Harvey Spencer Associates’ conference I had attended two weeks earlier. At the HSA conferences, Harvey likes to push the envelope of the capture industry. In fact, he will often have speakers that make you think, what the heck does this have to do with the market? This year, in fact, there were a couple speakers that focused on voice technology, which, aside from Nuance, wouldn’t seem to affect anyone in the capture market. But, when you consider Kurzweil’s sentiments, maybe it will.

For some perspective, I took a look at the agenda for the second HSA Capture conference, held in 2006. One of the sessions was “Check 21 and its Impact on the Convergence of Document and Transaction Processing.” I remember telling Harvey at the time, I really didn’t see the connection between payments and document processing. But, low and behold, some seven years later, at IOFM Payments Summit I attended recently, the convergence of documents and payments processing was one of the major themes.

Of course, Windows Vista was also a topic on the agenda at HSA Capture 2006, so you can’t win them all, but, I think it’s safe to say, in line with Kurzweil’s strategy, looking ahead a few years when developing new technology is important, because it helps get you to market ahead of the competition, who can follow, but will have a tough time unseating an established leader. SharePoint 2007 was another topic discussed at HSA 2006, and by that time KnowledgeLake already had an established, if small, capture-to-SharePoint practice. As Spencer’s vision of the influence of SharePoint proved correct, and it spread as a popular ECM repository, KnoweldgeLake blossomed from a start-up to a major player in our industry, while other vendors scrambled to catch up.

Which all brings us to Kofax’s announcement today of Total Agility 7, a platform for implementing smart process applications (SPA). Kofax first unveiled its SPA strategy about a year ago. At the time I wondered what the heck they were talking about. Kofax’s CMO Martyn Christian (who left the company about a month ago), however, did a pretty good job tying SPAs to the newly defined “first-mile” of business processes and the strategy started to make sense, but I was still wondering how Kofax planned to address it. Well, Total Agility 7, which has apparently (per Kurzweil’s advice) been in the works for several years and some $125 million worth of acquisition and R&D investment, makes it all clear. Basically, it’s a Web-based (eventually cloud-based) platform with all the tools needed to create SPAs.

I’ll expound more on this in my next premium issue of DIR, as Kofax CTO Anthony Macciola gave me a great interview on the details of TA 7. In brief, it combines Kofax’s existing capture technology, with its internally developed mobile tools, with the technology from the acquisitions Kofax has made over the past few years, and puts in all in a Webified, cloud-ready environment that appears ready to address what Kofax hopes is an emerging market for SPA solutions.

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