Do we now have the ‘It Does Everything’ Application?

by Frank 13. October 2011 15:00

Back in 1995 I wrote a paper called ”Document Management, Records Management, Image Management Workflow Management…What? – The I.D.E.A

IDEA stood for “It Does Everything Application” and I predicted the merging of what were then disparate applications like records management, document management, imaging and workflow into a single ‘it does everything’ application. It made sense back then and it makes even more sense now because most content management vendors now have applications that encompass all of the aforementioned applications plus many more.

We have of course also followed the same path and the RecFind today is a far cry from the RecFind of 1995. Today’s version, RecFind 6, is in fact the 7th total redesign and rewrite of our iconic product. Just like the grandfather’s axe story; “the handle has been changed 6 times and the blade 4 times but it is the same axe my grandfather used  60 years ago.” It is the same RecFind just improved somewhat over time.

We have in fact moved way past the original concept of an IDEA and the current RecFind is now able to be configured by our customers to be almost any application. This is possible because of a new architecture which allows RecFind to run multiple and different applications concurrently. We believe that this is the new model for all high end information management software going forward; a significant improvement over my original IDEA paradigm.

Our customers can now leverage off a single investment (RecFind 6) to satisfy multiple application software requirements. These include Asset Management, Business Process Management, Case Management, Content Management, Contract Management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Digital Asset Management, Document Management, Document Scanning, Imaging, Enterprise Content Management, Electronic Document and Records Management (EDRMS), Email Archiving, Email Management, Help Desk, Human Resources Management, Knowledge Management (KMS), Library Management, Records Management (RMS) and Workflow.

The big difference and major improvement over past generation systems is that everything is done via a high level configuration tool, not by changing source code. This means every RecFind 6 customer in the world runs a ‘standard’ version of our software even though each customer has RecFind uniquely configured to its precise requirements. This means every customer can benefit from our regular updates and new releases and that no customer is impacted by a ‘special’ maintenance contract.

When I presented the concept of RecFind 6 to a bunch of other vendors during a round table discussion at a records management convention a few years ago they all scoffed at the idea and said it was impossible. One vendor even said they had investigated doing what we proposed but that it was impossible.

As we developers all know, nothing is impossible in IT; it just takes time and money. RecFind 6 is evidence that it can be done and I already see other vendors following our lead.

The concept of  generic application solution (which is one way of describing RecFind 6) is one that both empowers and liberates the long-suffering customer. The customer can now change anything, including the data model, reports, language and any business process without waiting on the vendor or sending the vendor money. The customer can leverage off an investment in a single product to create multiple products and realize significant savings. Surely this is the model the world wants and needs, especially in these difficult economic times we all live in?

The scourge of unscrupulous ‘automatic renewals’ via the Internet

by Frank 9. October 2011 21:53

Is it just me or have the rest of you noticed a re-emergence of this scourge?

I am not talking about the situation where the purchase form or the install program up-front asks you if you would like your maintenance or monthly product supply to be automatically renewed or not; that is fine by me and good business. I am talking about the situation where you eventually discover that you have agreed to an automatic renewal of supply or maintenance without being aware of it.

As far as I am concerned, if it can happen without you being aware of it, it is at best an unscrupulous practice and at worst it is fraud.

I don’t care if the automatic renewal condition was cunningly ‘hidden’ in the densely-packed and obtuse terms and conditions you had to say “I agree” to. I consider that excuse the refuge of scoundrels.

The scoundrels also rarely give you the opportunity to cancel an unrequested automatic renewal via the web-site; that would be too easy. They usually make you search for hours to find a phone number you can call and then you have to go through torture on an automated phone system (they hope you will give up) before you can finally speak to a human being and demand that the auto-renewal be cancelled.

My first experience with this awful form of marketing was with the original AOL email service; cancelling was a nightmare. This practice was around a long time before AOL however with the ‘book clubs’ that sent you piles of unrequested books every month and insisted that unless you returned them, you owned them and had to pay for them. Charging consumers for products or services they didn’t ask for was disreputable back
then and it is disreputable now.

Three of the products I have bought on the Internet over the last month have incorporated the invisible automatic renewal into their online sale process. I have managed to battle all three and cancel the automatic renewal but not without a reasonable degree of effort and time. None of them notified me of the automatic renewal in either the purchase process or the install process.

My theory is that this is one of the ‘innovations’ coming out of the tail-end of the GFC as companies scramble to reduce costs and increase and lock-in revenue.

The problem is how to combat this scourge; it is akin to stopping a burglar when you are way from your home. How do you stop something when you don’t know it is happening?

The best advice I can give is to be aware it is happening (more and more if my experience is anything to go by) and to refuse to do any repeat business with any company that practices this deceitful way of misappropriating your hard-earned money. I should probably start a website to name and shame the practitioners but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life fighting law suits.


Frank is a senior executive of Knowledgeone Corporation and spends a large amount of money every year via the Internet of hardware and software for our software development group. His message to vendors is that he will not deal with them if they employ hidden automatic-renewal practices.


Information Management

Forget Man Versus Wild Let’s Talk Technology Versus Communication

by Greg 3. October 2011 22:50

I like to think of myself as well travelled and on the ball, however on a recent trip to
outback Queensland in the far north of Australia my theory was well and truly put to the test.

I was involved in implementing the EDM functionality of the RecFind product for a local authority which I had worked with a number of times. Local authorities are some of my favourite sites to work with as they tend to use most components of the product.

Scanning documents was a major part of the project and during discussions a member of staff asked me could they scan dingo ears. I thought OK, easy answer to that one
as you just fold it over and flatten it out, thinking that “dog ears” are quite common on documents that have been well used.

The next question was “what about the plastic?”. Thinking that many old documents may well be in plastic covers my suggestion was that you may need to take it out of the plastic cover to scan it. A puzzled look at this point made me think about what I was suggesting so I thought I had better investigate the situation a bit further. It turned out that what I thought were “dog ears” on documents were in fact dingo ears, real dingo ears! The Council was taking part in a bounty program in which residents could bring in dingo ears to claim their bounty.

Needless to say the situation provided a few jokes during the rest of my time onsite and not one dingo ear made it through the scanner.

Dingo ears aside, the EDM project was a great success providing an easy and quick way for staff to access documents at their desk or out and about using a laptop. Use of the RecFind High Speed Scanning Module made processing large numbers of documents an easy task from the initial scanning, to staff accessing them as a fully searchable PDFs. The RecFind Button also made it possible for staff to store a wide range of documents from within the application in which it was authored, as well as email that could be captured directly from within each user’s mailbox.

Digitizing large numbers of paper documents should not be a traumatic experience. You provide the documents, we provide the expertise. And a couple of dingo ears if really desired….


NB: Greg is a long-serving member of the RecFind ‘Flying-Team’ of consultants and he spends a large part of his time on airplanes and in foreign locales savoring and enjoying the local wildlife as well as assisting our customers.


Self-registering, self-managing records, a reality or just a pipe-dream?

by Frank 28. September 2011 01:15

The records management process has been a bothersome burden since primitive man first began cutting notches in sticks and tying knots in string to record things. You can just imagine the excuses for bad record-keeping a few hundred thousand years ago.

“The dog ate the string.”

“The stick caught fire.”

Unfortunately, modern man has millions more things to manage than his ancestor and no more time (I imagine our ancestors were pretty busy just staying alive and catching food). In fact our ancestors had a few advantages. It is pretty easy and very fast to tie a knot or cut a notch and no training is required. Additionally, notches and knots are naturally multi-lingual and multi-cultural and avoid all the language difficulties we are faced with today. Knots and notches are also pretty durable (if kept away from the fire and the dog) and lend themselves to long term preservation. We on the other hand struggle with the need for initial and ongoing training and overcomplicated software and processes and paper and cardboard that disintegrates after the first serious storm cause leaks to appear in the roof.

Basically, modern man has a much more difficult job to do with harder-to-use tools. Is this what we call progress?

So, is the solution fully-automatic, self-registering, self-classifying, self-managing records? Is it possible? Do we have the technology? Do we really want to rid ourselves of this burdensome task?

In my mind the answer to all of the above questions is yes but then I do have an active imagination. I really do envision a world where the records manage themselves and all we have to do is search and find what we need. In fact, the next phase should really include some really very clever ‘push’ algorithms such that we no longer even need to search, the system correctly anticipates what we need before we need it, “Bacon and eggs for breakfast sir with a little wholemeal toast and the files on the Clark-Deakin case?”

Unfortunately I am also a software designer and developer of records management systems so when I say silly things like the above I eventually have to follow rhetoric with product.

I already have most of the core components and technology and algorithms and most are already in use, in various stages of development, in our current product range. The ‘fully-automatic’ part of the process is already evident with products like RecCapture and GEM but market acceptance of the fully-automatic paradigm is still a major problem so we have been reluctant to get too far ahead of the curve. I am prone to the disease of designing products about five years before people are ready to use them because I often let my enthusiasm and imagination over-rule a more conservative view of what the market is actually ready to accept. This is probably because:

a)      I am the owner of the company; and

b)      Designing and developing application software is still fun and exciting and even more so if you use your imagination to its full.

In subsequent blogs I will further elaborate on how this abolition of the records management burden is not only possible but probable in the near term barring a total collapse of the world financial system because Greeks don’t pay their taxes and banks give money to anyone in good times all the time hoping that the government will bail them out if it all goes belly up.



Will Developers, Corporates and Government upgrade to Windows 8?

by Frank 19. September 2011 18:05

Why would developers model their applications around the new Windows 8 platform? Wouldn’t it be much smarter for Windows developers to plan a future based on a browser platform and HTML5 (if and when the HTML5 spec is finalised and agreed?). Why sign up for more cost and more pain?

Why would any large corporate or government agency plan a future based on the Windows 8 platform? Wouldn’t it be much smarter for customers to stick with the proven XP or Windows 7 OS and make the decision to move slowly and orderly to a future web based application environment?

What is Microsoft’s value proposition with Windows 8? Why should corporates and big government stick with Windows? Why should they upgrade to Windows 8? Just because it is faster to load (and we have heard that before) or prettier is hardly enough.

It will cost corporates and government all around the world billions of dollars to upgrade to Windows 8. Has Microsoft looked at the stock market lately or the health (or otherwise) of economies all around the world? Does it think the US government or Greek government or Italian or Irish governments will be increasing their massive debts to buy and roll-out Windows 8?

With state and local government all over America laying off government workers how can they possibly justify allocating scarce funds to Microsoft instead of employees?

How about big corporates like Bank of America (about to lay off some 30,000 staff)? What about the 25 million unemployed people in the USA; where will they get the money to upgrade to Windows 8? Where is the Return On Investment (ROI)? What do the powerful US unions think about Windows 8 instead of jobs?

Maybe the fact that Microsoft is hedging its bets with HTML5 and JavaScript tells you a lot – maybe they aren’t too confident about the future of Windows either. Maybe Microsoft fully expects a paradigm shift to web-based applications and away from Windows?

Vista may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back but the GFC will certainly be the major catalyst for decisions against Windows 8.


Information Management

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