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PDF – The Answer for Document Sharing in a WFH World? Interview with Foxit’s Kai Wille

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As the pandemic reworks how and where we work, one thing is clear — being able to simply and easily share digital documents is a critical piece of digital transformation efforts. It needs to be simple and streamlined.

It’s often not.

We spoke with Kai Wille, Foxit Software’s Director of Strategic Alliances, about this and other trends — including the possibility of the return of “dumb” terminals.

This is the second of three sponsor interviews (read/watch P3iD here and TWAIN, also with Kevin Neal of P3iD/TWAIN Board Member, here) that we recorded at Capture Conference 2021.

Also, for the record, we removed our masks for the interview to ensure clear audio. Covid protocols were in place at the venue.

You can watch the interview and/or read the transcript below the video.

Bryant Duhon, Editor-in-Chief of DIR, and Kai Wille, Foxit Software’s Director of Strategic Alliances

Duhon: Kai, nice to meet you in person finally after all these years. This is the first one of these so thank you for being a willing victim. So let’s start off with the first question, which I should know by now, but what are some of the important problems related capture your customers experience?

Wille: What we find is that the pandemic has sort of restructured the way people think about uh digital transformation, such a buzzword right? But we feel that the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the need for organizations to get rid of all of their paper, especially in the healthcare industry.

No one wants to pass paper around anymore. So that means that organizations are just getting every document from third parties in some digital form. That means a great diversity of documents that it has no control over anymore – lots of different file formats and people doing whatever they’re going to do. Meaning taking photos of documents using their mobile device or their copy machine at 600 dpi in color – giving you monster size documents giving you corrupted documents when they use their own tools. Or just file formats that you might have never seen before.

So that ultimately results in people getting files that won’t display correctly, won’t display at all or not open at all, or just take forever to open because, well, they’re huge. Ultimately that means business processes getting stuck. Capture processes getting stuck. And it’s amazing how much capture software’s still out there today that actually doesn’t do very well when it comes to throwing a great diversity of different document types and file formats at them.

Duhon: Let me go off script a little bit because you mentioned that word “digital transformation.” I’ve noted this a couple of couple of times in the newsletter – that’s such a nebulous term and it’s such a vast term. From Foxit Software’s standpoint, how do you view that phrase since it means a million things to a million people?

Wille: For us, ultimately, it means that people are trying to be more efficient about the business processes that they deal with every day. We still see lots and lots of people coming in leveraging our technology to finally get rid of good old paper forms and just turn it into a pdf form. Or stopping the mailing and Fedexing of contracts around to digitally sign those contracts. Those are just two examples that we see a lot.

I think people would be much further along, but it turns out that’s not the case. Some of the IDC stats show that 65% of organizations right here in North America are not far along in that digital transformation process so there’s a monster sized opportunity for companies to help with digital transformation. Even with simple things like helping people edit PDFs to make a nice digital form or digital signatures and many other things.

Duhon: I like the first way you phrased it, that was interesting. Back to the script, so to speak. I know this isn’t a traditional conference or trade show, but

what will you be speaking to our attendees about [tonight and] tomorrow?

Wille: You know Foxit is a PDF document solutions company. Everything we do is focused on helping organizations do more with their documents. So we have desktop applications such as a traditional PDF editor. We have software development toolkits that can let you do anything you could imagine to a PDF file on any operating system, any device, or in the browser. And we have mass document conversion and compression servers that are really all meant to help people address these problems that we’ve been talking about.

So part of it is really to do more such as that digital signature or to normalize those business processes by standardizing all the documents as they come into the company to PDF. Or PDF to make them all searchable because most business solutions today deal just fine with the PDF file. It’s all the other file formats that get difficult and it’s the poorly created PDF files that also cause problems. So that ability to normalize is a common theme and a major issue.

Duhon: So final question and an easy one for me to ask and maybe a fun one for you to answer. Where do you see the industry going in 18 to 24 months? What do you think will be the same and what will be different?

Wille: You know, we see two trends. I mean both trends are well known, and we see them continuing. So the first one is digitizing things. We think that everybody’s going to be looking to digitize more. That means either getting rid of, you know, analog processes that might have involved paper or to simply automate business processes.

The second aspect is really the ability to do what you want to do from wherever you are and whatever device you are on. For the traditional desktop, that means it will go away. Every desktop is going to be a cloud desktop down the road managed by a professional managed service provider who can do it right. Especially when you look at the SMB market, there’s a lot of players out there, where the owner of your barber shop or your dentist they don’t know anything about it so they’re going to just say you know what all the PCs that we have let’s take them in the cloud. That way we focus on our business instead of focusing on IT security and things like that.

That means everyone needs to be able to be able to address and use documents wherever they are on whatever device they are on. So the ability to create efficient documents that are easy to work with in any environment is going to be a critical component for the next years to come.

Duhon: I’m not an expert on this, but it’s almost like a return to dumb terminals from when PCs first came out like years ago or something.

Wille: I think of that as well, yes. In a previous life I actually worked for a company that produced multi-user multitasking operating systems for dumb terminals. I see it going that way except the dumb terminal is your iPad, your laptop, or whatever device you happen to be carrying around with you that connects to a highly secured managed environment where things are taken care of for you so that you can focus on your job and someone else can focus on making sure that it’s efficient and secure.

Duhon: Well fantastic. Thank you very much, Kai.

Wille: You’re very welcome. Thanks for having us.

Interested in learning more about Foxit? You can contact Kai:

And don’t forget about Capture Conference 2022, September 7 & 8! It’s never too early to start thinking about attending the event for industry insiders. Click here for more information about the event.

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