It’s been an interesting few years in the AP automation space, firstly with the shift away from on premise solutions and the journey into the cloud, and secondly with the new processes and possibilities that have opened up on the back of disruptive technology. Of course, the solutions that a technology company produces can be both the driver of new processes and a reflection of the current trends and needs it serves. As a result, a lot of agile new companies have sprung up over the last 4 or 5 years offering bespoke solutions servicing very specific needs.
For the more savvy technology companies, none of this has come as a surprise and building innovation into the roadmap has long been part of their strategic growth plan. Take Kofax for example, a company with a 30 year history in document capture and a market leader in their field, they could perhaps be forgiven for resting on their laurels and not straying from their core offering. But as the demise of companies like Kodak and Blockbuster have shown, a business model that works today is not necessarily going to continue to do so tomorrow.
What’s really interesting about Kofax, is that it’s clear from the company’s acquisitions over the last 3 or 4 years, that they’ve studied both the market and the gaps in their offering, and systematically gone out and filled them. VP Platform Product Marketing, Dermot McCauley said that was something the executive management team have been striving towards - meeting market needs through a mixture of both organic growth and acquisition.
The whole process kicked off about 3 ½ years ago with the purchase of Derry based Singularity in 2011. Singularity attracted Kofax because of the foundational nature of the product – one that was light-years ahead of the competition as well as being a leader recognised by Gartner in its Magic Quadrant reports on case management and workflow.
Of course, automating processes is only a part of the solution – organisations need better visibility of the transactional data too. So in March 2013, Kofax purchased a company called Altosoft which opened up the world of near real-time dashboards and reporting using in-memory techniques to its customer base, providing what Dermot terms “actionable insight”.
The next step on the journey was the purchase of Kapow later on in 2013, providing organisations with a means to prevent so-called “swivel chair” situations – no more time wasting and error prone cut and pasting between various desk-top applications, but smart integration using Kapow’s API capabilities.
So what remained? In September last year, Kofax bought SoftPro, bringing signature capture and verification into the mix, making straight-forward end-to-end processing more widely available and compliant. The blending of all these strategic acquisitions enhance Kofax’s flagship TotalAgility Platform by combining the capabilities for which Kofax is already renowned - capture and process management, while also including new mobile, analytics and e-signature capabilities. Applied to the AP, Procure-to-Pay and other business areas, the end result for customers is improved and faster cost savings, improved supplier relationships and better cash management.
But Kofax hasn’t stopped there. Just last month the company bought Netherlands based AIA, a customer communications management (CCM) company, in recognition of the huge growth potential of the market (the CCM market is expected to be worth $1.2bn by 2017). In doing so, the company is now able to offer solutions for what it calls “closed loop”, content-intensive customer interactions, a solution set which is likely to present opportunities for Kofax to springboard into other, related areas.
The capture market has expanded in recent years, and the industry continues to respond to the need for organisations to be flexible in their approach to business, including smarter analytics and real-time capabilities. What Kofax has done so far is a great response to that, underpinned by systematic acquisitions to shore up and add value on the capability side - and the development of a well-designed dashboards and productive interfaces on the user side. And if market validation of Kofax and its products was needed, it seems to have arrived in the form of a spectacular $1bn purchase of the company announced on April, 24th by global tech giant, Lexmark International.