I found myself in a sea of 30,000 other people last week at Dreamforce. The conference was truly unlike any other tech event as it isn’t often that you see President Bill Clinton and Stevie Wonder take the stage. However, beyond having star power at the event, the topics were timely, the discussions were interesting, and the SMBs shift towards the cloud was prominent.
Amongst other announcements during his keynote address, Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of salesforce.com, referenced an application that HR employees can use to access a backend database by scanning a barcode. Of course, the ABBYY folks’ ears perked up when we heard this, not only because of its relevance to capture, but also because of the growth opportunity that this one application displayed within the SMB. This was just a barcode scanner; imagine the possibilities that full capture technologies have to offer for SMBs. As interesting as this mention was in Marc’s address, even more interesting to us was that most people don’t even realize that the technology can go far beyond a barcode. In discussing the topic with technology providers at the conference, we found that most people don’t know that document capture can be done with a variety of environmentally captured images, not just barcodes.
More mainstream consumer applications like Google Goggles are serving as a driving force for capture technology by demonstrating the possibilities at a very basic level. As engineers experience the benefits on their personal devices they are simultaneously realizing that capture can offer much more in an enterprise application. Interestingly enough, we are often asked by journalists, partners, customers and others if we see Google as competition to our customers. Our answer? Sure, Google Goggles offers solutions like business card reading, imaging searches, and menu translation. However, it’s important to realize that these use cases segue directly into the more complex technologies that our industry offers. Google Goggles offers developers a platform to explore the technology, spark interest, and integrate small capabilities. It is for this reason that we welcome Google’s technology and see it as an educating force for developers like the ones present on the Dreamforce Expo floor.
The trend of (unused) capture capabilities was also discussed in the Cloud Expo, which represented the more than 50,000 applications available on salesforce.com AppExchange. Interestingly, in our discussions at the event we found that more often than not, developers are not integrating capture into applications. Today, most of these applications leverage mobile devices for primarily push functions – viewing documents or delivering database information. However, the light bulb is beginning to brighten and people are beginning to understand that mobile phones can be used for more than just viewing documents. It is a tool that we can use to pull and push content and actually create documents. This will come to fruition as people begin to manage their work lives the same way they manage their home and social lives…via mobile devices.
As I mentioned in last week’s post, our industry has some market education work to do. It is evident that cloud application developers are eager to expand their hardware footprint and adopt mobile devices, however, there is a lack of understanding how they can use these devices, beyond being a simple tool to view reports or document, to created added value.
Did you make it to Dreamforce this year? If so, what themes did you find interesting?
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