Magazine Article | November 30, 2006

Documents In, Data Out

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, November 2006

The two thought leadership articles presented in this supplement may, on the surface, appear to be at opposite ends of the ECM (enterprise content management) spectrum. The first covers the basics of selecting the right scanner for your document imaging needs, while the other tackles the more complex subject of transforming and sharing document data via SOA (service-oriented architecture). So why then are these two topics presented together as an educational resource for you and your business? The answer is simple — both deal with a different stage of document transformation and together illustrate how ECM technology deployment is rapidly evolving.

While electronically capturing documents using a scanning device is still the first step in document transformation, the value of simply storing these images in isolated repositories is diminishing. Sure, reduced physical storage costs and accelerated access to documents are still benefits to be gained through a simple scan and archive model, but many more can be realized by actually sharing these images and the data they contain with other business applications. This is where SOA is having a major impact.

It used to be that sharing document data required extensive customized programming between the ECM repository and each business or legacy application. These programming efforts are time-consuming, costly, and specific to the two platforms being integrated. With SOA, each application on a network and their individual functionalities are set up as Web services that can freely provide data to or receive data from another. This not only makes integrating internal software assets easier, it also allows data to be shared with SOA platforms outside the four walls of an organization.

While businesses commonly integrated their imaging and ECM platforms with other applications in the past, it was often a highly involved project that occurred after an initial archival system was already established. The emergence of SOA is shortening the time between when document images are captured and when that data can be shared. This is making it possible for businesses like yours to eliminate document silos and begin using your document data to automate data entry, workflows, and business processes at the same time your scanners are initially installed.