IBM Snags OCR Leader Datacap
August 16, 2010 Alex Woodie
IBM‘s spending spree continued last week with two more acquisitions, including the purchase of Datacap, a leader in optical character recognition (OCR) technology. Big Blue has big plans for Datacap, which will become the centerpiece of IBM’s entire document capture strategy and bolster its records management offerings, particularly for customers in heavily regulated and paper-intensive industries like healthcare, government, and financial services.
Datacap had developed a niche for itself with Taskmaster, its flagship suite of Windows-based document capture and forms processing software. The Tarrytown, New York-based company boasts of Taskmaster’s capability to recognize and extract any kind of data, including structured data that’s fairly predictable, such as a tax return, as well as unstructured and highly variable data, such as invoices.
Beyond OCR, which is a mature and crowded field, the real benefit of Taskmaster is its capability to categorize and index data, and prepare it for the next business process in the customer’s workflow, such as entering an order in an ERP system or archiving a document in an enterprise content management (ECM) system.
Datacap claims Taskmaster can capture and categorize data accurately, quickly, and affordably, which is critical in high-volume environments typical of Datacap’s target market of Fortune 1000 companies. Considering the old “pick two” rule (where a customer can choose from having something done cheap, having it done well, or having it done fast, but never all three at one time), IBM’s acquisition provides some validation of Datacap’s capabilities in all three departments.
“We’ve chosen to make Datacap’s approach the foundation of IBM’s document capture strategy,” IBM vice president of ECM Ron Ercanbrack says in a press release. “Datacap’s approach to image capture, using sophisticated business rules management, sets it above the rest in the industry and provides the most complementary capabilities for IBM.”
Taskmaster already serves as a front-end to FileNet, IBM’s flagship ECM product. IBM will continue using Taskmaster in proven applications, like medical claim processing, invoice processing, loan processing, medical records capture, and tax return processing.
The fact that Datacap’s software has already been integrated and used with IBM systems, including the IBM i platform, also weighed in favor of the acquisition. IBM says it will preserve investments that Datacap’s client and partners have made to integrate Datacap products into existing systems.
This means the Datacap partnerships of at least two IBM i ISVs–RJS Software Systems and inFORM Decisions–will continue for the foreseeable future. RJS has been a Datacap reseller for years, while inFORM Decisions just recently rolled out an OEM version of a Taskmaster product that works with its IBM i-based content management system.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. IBM says Datacap, which was founded in 1988, has more than 200 customers, including prominent organizations like the Chicago Department of Public Health, BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona, and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.