The CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany last month was literally awesome – a huge show. CeBIT is German for Centre of Office Automation and Information Technology and Telecommunication. DataMaster’s interest was primarily in the ECM hall (one of 23, each the size of a national exhibition), and this was nearly a mile’s walk from the entry point!
The first stand was the Brother stand. Imagine our surprise to see none less than Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, giving a speech from the Brother podium. It’s hard to imagine a political leader in another country giving a show like CeBIT such a priority – nor appearing with so little apparent security. She always visits CeBIT. This year the Swiss PM was with her. In 2015 she had “Dave” with her. However, apart from the most senior European politician, a top-of-the-range BMW sports car, and some gadgets (see photo) the Brother stand was a little lightweight compared to the rest of the ECM hall. You can only make an A4 MFP look so good, no matter how many paper trays it stands on. Clearly their DocuForm partners were the highlight of the Brother stand, and Ingo Alex’s enthusiasm for Mercury PDL translations and global print driver mappers was unmatched elsewhere.
Just like Mrs Merkel, we visited the other halls to view latest developments in the Internet of Things, the truly immense SalesForce presence, to stare in awe at Huawei and in wonder at the efforts being made to target public sector budgets. Plus Bratwürste, of course.
It took two days just to visit all the stands in the ECM Hall. Konica Minolta’s stand presented their ECM solutions, both their partners’ and those developed by Konica Minolta in-house. New for us was the provision of cloud-based IT service management. Lending credibility to the notion of selecting your printer manufacturer as a source of business software applications, two cloud-based IT Service Management solutions were on display, outsourcing server and application monitoring and management, and outsourcing mobile device management. This latter service is available from the new bizhub Evolution platform. Bizhub Evolution offers an impressive range of services, some free, some not, including automatic translation. Coffee service provision was also available from a simple touch of the bizhub C308 interface. Perhaps more valuably in the longer term, invoice recognition (based on ABBYY OCR) and route to Cloud DMS (with index data in xml) is downloadable from bizhub Evolution, as is Markomi. Markomi is a partner service, providing access to cross-platform marketing (emails, vouchers, confirmation management) – which has arrived in the office automation world from the PP Web2Print world. windream, long-term ECM partner for Konica Minolta, had their own stand. windream is simple, fully featured and has three strengths: they’ve been doing this a long time; they have their own patented Windows integration; but above all, it’s so easy to use. Every app at a show ought to appear easy to use, but here at DataMaster, we do know what we’re looking at. As the sales person said to me, “I’ve never sold a training day.”
Kyocera’s acquisition of Ceyoniq has given them a powerful ECM app, n-scale “information platform”. We will see this rolled out to other countries in the coming months. n-scale has editions aimed specifically at HR, CRM and contract management, to name but a few – all of which can integrate into ERP and other existing infrastructures. The n-scale business process map is holistic to say the least, a sight to behold.
It was surprising not to see other MFP manufacturers exploiting such an office-automation business show. Has the opportunity to use business process apps to sell copiers slipped through the equipment manufacturer’s fingers? Here is quick summary of the highlights from the software developers, few of whom see the copier interface as a key input station.
ELO had a large stand at CeBIT. Highlights of ELO 10.5 were the ease of invoice zone finding and “context zooming”.
Drivve have been working directly with OKI to develop an app for the latter’s new software platform. Watch this space!
A highlight of our trip was to meet Enno Lückel, who helped make Autostore the powerful and efficient tool it was. Enno is now VP of Ephesoft, and had just spoken at the CeBIT conference on how document input is now the domain of the mobile device, and indeed that “MFPs and scanners belong in museums.” In person, he is even more frank. Suffice to say, Ephesoft have no plans to look at MFP software platforms. Interestingly, Ephesoft enterprise 4.0 is sold simply per server CPU, regardless of usership and document store volumes.
Konica Minolta’s software development partner D.velop (no relation to Develop, the Konica Minolta MFP brand) had upwards of 50 ECM solutions on show, and a really cool stand set out like bar booths, each with a screen. Every time we passed the stand, intimate demonstrations were ongoing. The D.velop stand, like the M-Files stand, was all but paper-free. This is the object of the exercise, after all.
LoboDMS, WMD, Agorum, and RDS were all interesting ECM apps, many still based on Sharepoint. These are smaller developers who have carved out niches in specific markets, such as banking, or by virtue of their geography. We will certainly be in touch with JobRouter, for example. There were other exhibitors in the PDF/A management sphere, and we should just highlight Callas validation and the Kendox digital signature system. We should mention Versatio, among the legacy-to-PCL converters.
WideTEK was a suprise, mainly because it was the first time we had heard of them despite the fact that they had a huge stand. WideTEK make really big scanners: up to 48 inches wide (1220mm)! Their 36-inch (915mm) dual-head scanner can scan both sides of a sheet of newspaper at 600 dpi in under 4 seconds.
Finally, Optimal Systems, and particularly the Insiders capture component. We are indebted to Himanshu Saxena for his able demonstration of their wealth of quasi-semantic intelligent email response management and other related systems. Others would sell this as semantic analysis – it kind of is. Powerful analysis of subject and context, and automatic routing AND replying based on the context of content: really neat. This is what ECM will be about in future years, and other developers should be extolling these virtues.
Our next huge show will be DRUPA in Duesseldorf in late May. We may take our hiking boots for this one.
All of the solutions above are on Your DMO solutions and on Printer-Benchmark.com/Solutions - or they will be as soon as we have had our analyses approved by the developers.