ECM: Keeping your eye on the big picture in the data jungle

Cleanliness is next to godliness – so far, so good. And … what does that have to do with this blog? Well, a new year is always a good time to ask yourself what market trends are out there, and how you’re going to react to them. Although all this talk about “cleanliness” sounds a little old fashioned, it turns out that according to market researchers, it’s one of the biggest IT trends for 2016. They just have a different name for it.

 

Gartner names ten trends

US research firm Gartner published a paper in which its analysts listed the ten most important strategic technology trends for the new year. Learning machines, robotics, system integration, and the diversity of devices in the Internet of Things are just some of the dominant topics – as is the question of how to clean house when it comes to data.

 

New ways to measure the digital world

Organization is becoming more and more important in today’s world. Data quantities and masses of information are piling up at dizzying speeds, produced by the growing number of smart devices. Big data isn’t called “big” for nothing. There are fundamentally new ways to measure the digital world, now that we understand the real world in such minute detail. Gartner has even introduced a new keyword into this discussion: the “Information of everything.”

 

A crucial decision: The right tools at the right time

It’s a fact: the way we administer and analyse quantities of data, then convert them into use, is what determines the success of digitalization and of most branches of industry and the economy. The topic Enterprise Content Management has taken centre stage on the corporate landscape. After all, ECMs were invented to deal with the sheer mass of information and the increasing complexity of data sets, including collecting, structuring, and storing data, then making it available to workflows and analysis tools.

 

2016 could be the year of the ECM – and of companies that put their stock in intelligent ECM solutions. This is especially true because of how attractive ECMs have become for even small companies as flexible, on-demand services. This could be the beginning of a development that will stay relevant far beyond 2016 …

The mobile ECM Suite is coming

As part of the “next generation ECM project “SPIRIT”, EASY SOFTWARE AG succeeded in entering a strategic partnership alliance with Apinauten GmbH, an innovative startup business. Headquartered in Leipzig, Germany, the “Apinauts” have been offering a “mobile back-end‐as‐a‐service” solution called “apiOmat” in the market since 2012.

 

Launch in 2016

Thanks to this partnership alliance, EASY SOFTWARE AG will already be capable in 2016 of positioning offers in the market segment “Mobile ECM Suite” through which offers emerge enabling our customers to use ECM Suite solutions, in the form of specialized apps, also while traveling. Being the first ECM Suite app, “EASY Contact Mobile” will facilitate safe, site independent access to corporate contract data.

 

Rethinking usability

As part of EASY WORLD 2014, EASY had for the first time announced developing the next ECM generation software under the project name SPIRIT. Continuing this, EASY consequently presented the first SPIRIT mobile cases at EASY WORLD 2015. As far as the new ECM generation software is concerned, the EASY specialists have been rethinking usability of software: instead of focusing only on the software’s user interfaces, EASY tackling this topic through an integrated approach.

 

ECM solutions in record time

This new ECM generation software provides so-called business modules for the technical EASY ECM services which facilitate creating ECM solutions in record time, owing to simple configuration. The fundamentals of this new platform are, on the one hand, established EASY ECM services such as Archive, Rendition, OCR, etc., and data and documents. On the other hand, SPIRIT provides a wide range of new functionality and features which, particularly in the sector of document intensive processes, allow simple and efficient action. The SPIRIT platform is based on the modular design principle using different tools.

To organize its ongoing development to be in line with market requirements and hands-on practice as much as possible, EASY offers its partners the chance to contribute their ideas and suggestions to the development platform.

 

An intensive development partnership

In addition to integrating apiOmat into the SPIRIT Microservice framework, EASY SOFTWARE AG and Apinauten GmbH have begun further collaboration. An intensive development partnership, which already started in the form of a common kick-off event in Potsdam, Germany, is emerging as part of the ongoing development of SPIRIT and apiOmat. EASY’s commitment is designed through the corresponding agreements and contracts in such a manner that nothing stands in the way of a common and successful future.

 

The Microservice approach as an “app service”

The smart solution “apiOmat” allows connecting any back-end systems with phone-based devices and wearables. For SPIRIT, apiOmat establishes the connection between the ECM Suite and phone-based devices and seamlessly integrates with the SPIRIT Microservice approach as an “app service”. Besides, apiOmat is featured in the market overview of the Gartner analysts as ranking equal with the established IBM, Microsoft, Oracle or SAP solutions. Using apiOmat enables the SPIRIT project to make an initial contribution to the ECM Suite portfolio at a significantly earlier date, i.e. about two years earlier than scheduled.

EASY Capture 5.0: more powerful than ever before

With over 3,000 installations on the market, EASY Capture has been highly successful, and is used anywhere from individual workstations to multi-national companies. With the new EASY ECM Suite release version 16.1, the solution will probably be available in March 2016. In comparison to its predecessor, EASY has finished quite a few tweaks to make Capture even more high-performing and reliable than before.

 

“Tuned up” to 64-bit

One of the most important new features is that EASY Capture Plus 5.0 is now delivered in a 64-bit version. This means the solution is extremely powerful, even with huge numbers of documents or very large documents. All components interact much more reliably with one another in a 64-bit environment, meaning users profit from full compatibility with the 64-bit version of Office. Along with this platform change, EASY exchanged SDKs and third-party software for modern applications. Finereader is available in version 11 now, as well, managing multithreading more reliably than ever before.

 

Centralized configuration and SMTP capability

There’s another great new feature: if you change a configuration, you won’t have to update all objects and applications. EASY also expanded XML import, and it’s now possible to communicate with SMTP authentication in large network environments. The days of internal accounts working without authentication through relay servers are long gone.

EASY Capture 5.0 has also refreshed the document log. In Capture, users can now follow the complete life cycle of a document in great detail. Last but not least, EASY has expanded remote queries as a tool for remote access to databanks. Besides SAP and Sharepoint, you can now access documents and Enterprise.x without detours. Extensive scripting also allows you to connect to external sources.

 

Three OCR solutions on board

Furthermore, EASY has centralized the three OCR solutions included in Capture Plus into one single engine, expanding its configuration options. Capture 5.0 can now convert documents into black and white before transferring them to the OCR solution, or convert a PDF that’s too complex into an image – including optimization and edge improvement. Also, in the capture-scan module, multiple users can work together on one stack – with each user always automatically receiving just one document at a time.

With all that’s new, EASY has held on to some proven features and to the look and feel of the previous version. Users will feel “at home” right away, even though they’ll be happy to work with a much stronger and better solution.

Creating references: Satisfaction every time

Job references are part of everyday business at any company. Frequently, however, it’s a topic no one wants to touch – writing references takes quite a bit of time. Time that doesn’t get spent on strategic tasks. However, there is a way to speed up the process enormously.

The purpose of a job reference is to provide a way to measure an employee’s individual performance. After all, skills and character, qualification and commitment vary from worker to worker. Each employee brings something different to the company, which a reference should reflect. Accordingly, writing good references takes quite a bit of effort. Nevertheless, workers who are leaving your company, especially, don’t want to wait all too long on their assessments.

 

Stumbling blocks to avoid

Many employers, however, don’t know what’s most important when creating a reference with good content and form. Plenty can go wrong when formulating ideas, creating a structure, and writing the reference – especially if the employee writes the reference himself. In short: the whole process is fairly time-consuming for both HR departments and workers. While workers might feel they’re running all over the place trying to get a reference, HR staffers might be waiting on an assessment from the boss.

 

Current studies prove the stakes are high

According to a Haufe study from 2015, 60 percent of employees wish they had technical support – as do 47 percent of managers. 30 percent of employees find legally secure, flexible text building blocks extremely important. 25 percent also see potential in using an easy to operate reference software. Managers believe the greatest potential for improvement lies in specialized software and better employee involvement.

 

Halving the effort

71 percent of respondents are still working with a word processing program. In general, using a reference creation software helps by providing unified legal and content processes. Without specialized software, creating a reference can take up to two weeks. With a specialized solution, the whole process lasts a week – half the time.

 

Good grades for employee evaluations

EASY nextPCM accelerates the entire process of reference creation. HR professionals no longer need to carefully weigh each and every word. They can create legally valid references quickly and efficiently alongside associated supervisors. To do so, the programs use pre-defined text building blocks and assessment criteria, as well as defined workflows.

The integration with SAP ERP HCM also ensures the employee’s master data transfers without a hitch, and forms a basis for the role-based authorization concept of SAP HCM. It allows HR employees to automatically ensure the protection of sensitive personal data.

 

You can learn more about the software here.

Excellent: Five stars for the EASY sales partner program

Independent consulting firm Insalcon cooperated with ChannelPartner to take a critical look at the EASY sales partner program for EASY ECM Suite. The results are impressive: EASY SOFTWARE AG was the only company to receive a second certification of excellence – a follow-up to our first certificate in 2013. With five out of five possible stars, EASY truly achieved excellent results in 2015.

Easy ECM Suite stood out particularly well in the areas of sales strategy, marketing, and sales support. Our partner portal, the EASY Extranet, and our partner onboarding also impressed EASY partners surveyed.

ECM paving the way for digitalization

From a technological standpoint, one of the biggest challenges in digitalization is in managing and using the growing flood of data. Big data is a term that’s on everyone’s lips, but concrete solutions for paperless, fully digital processes, and for managing and processing large amounts of data and documents, are usually pure ECM solutions. In this regard, well-done enterprise content management is one major part of digitalization, and definitely paves the way for it. Without digital processes, documents, and data, there’s no digital transformation. ECM brings light into the data and document jungle, a jungle getting thicker every day because of digitalization.

 

Practical example from the health insurance field

With around 825,000 individuals insured, Sanitas is one of the largest health insurance companies in Switzerland, and made the switch to a digital archive several years ago. During the course of ongoing digitalization, the insurer now wants to create a new online portal for its customers to ensure they have round-the-clock access to their policies and important documents from anywhere. Using the ECM backbone and “clean” ECM management, this was relatively simple for Sanitas. In this process, all documents are indexed and saved in a centralized manner. Sanitas also uses centralized management. They only need to create a service interface for the online portal in order to be able to give their customers access to their documents.

 

Each journey begins with the first step …

Many companies are still looking for the right business model for an ever more digitalized world. But even if this kind of business model doesn’t exist yet, it’s already possible to create the basic conditions for a successful digital transformation internally. This includes updating and preparing your company’s ECM. The age of digitalization brings with it an ever-growing flood of data, as well as increasing pressure on companies to effectively and efficiently manage information, content, and documents.

Marco Büchel-Luzi is head of the Zürich ECM teams at EASY partner ELCA. Here you can get in contact with the author on Twitter: @marconbuechel

IT solution sales: A focus on teamwork

Thomas Meysel is a Senior Manager of Partner Consulting at EASY SOFTWARE AG. In an interview with ChannelPartner, he explains how IT companies can differentiate themselves from their competition.

The IT industry is characterized by sometimes radical change, which can even directly affect sales and distribution. “We’re currently undergoing a shift from selling products to selling IT solutions” Thomas Meysel, Senior Manager of Partner Consulting at EASY says. Selling solutions isn’t an entirely new topic, although many manufacturers and system vendors have had difficulty fully making the change.

 

What’s different about selling IT solutions?

Selling IT solutions is one of the most complex jobs in the industry, since distributors have to have not only sound professional knowledge but also the ability to adapt to a wide variety of different situations. “Having to react to highly variable circumstances is one key issue,” Meysel says, “and the other is working in a team.”

Today, most IT companies’ marketing success is actually based on the interaction of many participants. Companies selling IT solutions have a clear need for responsible management. They have to form strong internal sales teams and manage an order centre for customers.

Things can get especially challenging when distributors have eight to ten projects going at the same time in acquisitions and have to orchestrate sales teams composed in very different manners, each in its own IT sales process. Thomas Meysel knows well how important mutual understanding is in leadership and in sales.

 

No more cookie-cutter solutions

When products and solutions begin to become more predictable, especially in an environment defined by document-intensive processes and enterprise content management, companies have to find decisive new ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. Sales personnel who base their arguments on products in these kinds of market environments often only focus on one distinguishing feature: price. Price, however, is not the primary criteria for most customers in making their decisions.

But well-trained IT salespeople are still able to make big-ticket sales, even in competitive environments. What do they do differently? “We’re simply better at making arguments based on use,” says EASY Partner Manager Meysel.

The argument for use sounds simple, but it does hide a danger. “If the use argument remains too generic, you won’t reach the customer on an emotional level at all,” says Oliver Wegner, Manager at evolutionplan GmbH.

 

Placing the focus on use

To make sure that doesn’t happen, you have to back up arguments on use with good analysis. Analyses need to be completed in advance as part of a needs assessment. This can be difficult for many IT distributors. They frequently ask questions that don’t delve deeply enough into the customer scenario or don’t approach discussion partners in a personal manner. The quality of the answer you receive is usually a good indicator of the quality of your question. This means that if you’re only getting surface or insufficient answers, the salesman’s questions aren’t powerful enough.

Information is an important variable in IT sales processes. “Sales teams who are successful routinely see the big picture for interested parties and customers. They close gaps in their knowledge and develop contacts in a targeted way to gain a decisive competitive advantage,” Oliver Wegner maintains.

To put it differently: Successful IT vendors use their entire expertise to provide detailed information and explanations, both for their personal success and the success of customers and prospects.

Click >here< to view the video of the complete interview with Thomas Meysel.

5. Interview ChannelPartner T. Meysel

Picture: Dr. Ronald Wiltscheck (Chefredakteur ChannelPartner)  und Thomas Meysel (re.)

From digitalization to virtual value-creation

Under the motto “From digitalization to virtual value-creation,” EASY partner Konica Minolta IT Solutions GmbH staged an exciting informational event on current developments and trends in the industry a few weeks ago. EASY SOFTWARE AG and Schleupen AG were active participants in the event, providing speeches and presentations.

Guests at the Mülheim headquarters of Konica Minolta enjoyed a variety of talks and discussions on the topic of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and document management. In their presentations and follow-up discussions, for instance, speakers answered the question of what the biggest challenges are in integrating ECM with business process solutions, and how companies can handle these. A digitalization strategy is key. It ensures that companies can use digitalized processes in the long term. Better quality information, an increase in efficiency, and stronger relationships between a company and its clients are just a few examples.

Matthias Höfelmeyer, EASY Partner Sales, provided information on successfully using ECM solutions in the digital shift in his presentation. EASY colleague Fred Klukas also showed how EASY HR 3.0 can help companies make their personnel management more efficient and more secure. A presentation on using EASY Invoice in companies, based on the example of the ESO Education Group, rounded off the one-day event.

EASY SOFTWARE AG updates its General Terms and Conditions of Business

Starting January 21st 2016, the new General Terms and Conditions of EASY Software AG apply. Each business partner and customer can view them under www.easy.de/agb. The new General Terms and Conditions apply to legal transactions that are completed with EASY as of today.

EASY Webcast: Increase productivity with SAP ERP HCM tools

As part of our webcast series, we’re teaming up with our partner Centric on January 27th, 2016 at 2:00 PM to show you how SAP tools can enormously simplify everyday work for your SAP ERP HCM.

Check and correct your master data in real time with the Master Data Audit program for SAP HCM PA/OM. This will increase your data quality in the long run. We will also present the preventative control and security system for calculating wages and salaries in SAP ERP HCM. Around 800 complex, composed rules facilitate a complete automatic review of payroll accounting – all in one compliance tool, and completely integrated into SAP ERP HCM.

With the comparison and accounting tool for all HCM data (VBT), you’ll save up to 80% of your time in creating daily real-time assessments and calculations – without programming. VBT can create reports from various sources using all available HCM data. Anywhere you usually use Query, LOA reporter, and Excel to create evaluations, you can now create combined evaluations from just one integrated tool, and even complete calculations.

Register now >here< to take part in the webcast free of charge. Please note that this information is currently available only in German language.