Our recently announced Ephesoft Transact software includes over fifty new features, many developed around the four benefits of improved accuracy, increased productivity, added connectivity and higher security. One of the “hidden features” is our new web-based MFP platform. Having myself been in the industry and focused on MFP capture, I can say it is potentially one of the best platforms I have seen. Of course, I am biased, but I am not saying it without a reason.
First things first … the most important differentiation of the Ephesoft MFP platform: it will not focus on Send to Email, Send to Word or Excel. While these basic tasks can be performed, there are many other applications, whether being part of Managed Print Service (MPS) offerings or machine firmware, which also perform simple document routing.
The Ephesoft MFP platform is not a client, but an integration framework developed to enhance MFP scanning with automation, so the focus is leveraging our automatic classification and extraction technology. Users can scan a batch of documents, let the system divide them (automatically – no barcodes or separator sheets) and recognize the required indexing information. Through this approach, documents are available to business processes more quickly due to the proximity of MFPs to the business user, as well as the automation Ephesoft provides.
Ephesoft Transact enables MPS providers to offer document services in the cloud
While automation provides benefits, with Ephesoft we take it a step further with our cloud architecture. With shrinking margins in the MFP space, solutions become of more and more importance to MFP vendors and resellers. However deployment and maintenance of those solutions on premise is often complex and costly, due to the requirement of local servers, services and the cost of classic device-based license models.
Since Ephesoft Transact is completely build on web services and is cloud and multi-tenant ready, it was a clear requirement for Ephesoft to provide the same flexibility for MFPs.
Ephesoft believes in open interfaces; we are very much aware that there are many capture solutions in the market, already providing panel integrations. Yet most of these programs lack automation and rely on panel buttons to direct documents to recipients or applications. So while Ephesoft Transact has a client that can run on MFPs, we also provide open web services, allowing, for example, the makers of Card Authentication Solutions, device scanning or even firmware makers to enrich their platforms with document automation. So a vendor of a follow-me/you etc. solution can call the Ephesoft platform and leverage our system for machine learning-based classification and extraction, while still presenting the original application’s UI to the user.
Marketing aside – how does it work?
The Ephesoft MFP platform is a web service, running in-front of our Ephesoft Transact server. This structure allows an administrator to setup tenants (which could be customers or departments.) Once a tenant is setup, batch classes (similar to defined forms) can be selected from Ephesoft Transact and devices can be associated through an URL or by calling our web services.
For a real life use case, the administrator of a MPS provider might setup standard batch classes for Invoices, Contracts and HR onboarding within Ephesoft Transact. Next, he can setup different tenants like “Accounting”, “Sales” etc. and assign Invoices & Contracts to the 1st tenant, and all three to the 2nd , along with the number of devices being allowed to connect to the service.
Infrastructure Management & Reporting
Considering the investment in the vast number of machines in the field that a MPS provider might deploy, managing and ultimately making money with an offering is of critical importance. With Ephesoft, device management occurs within the MFP platform, which is web-based. It is possible to see which device is connected, even via network address translation (NAT) networks using the device name. It is also possible to remove or add devices or assign seats to a tenant (customer). Once a document is received, the Ephesoft Batch Instance Management ensures the admin stays in control and is ready to provide alerts should a processing error occur.
For providers offering this type of solution to customers in a web environment, it may be important to be able to bill back. Through the reporting backend of Ephesoft Transact, this feature is transparent, since the Ephesoft Transact server reports every step of a process. Whether identifying how often a batch class is used (think Invoice, Contract or HR Onboarding), the number of pages processed or any other document or data driven metric. This service makes it easy to bill back services provided to a customer and demonstrate value that solution provided.
- Will it be possible to add buttons as well as use automated classification?
YES: Ephesoft Transact provides Batch Class Fields, therefore users can, for example, scan a batch of invoices and have them read, and select a project from a drop down list. The fields provided in version one include text, list and date.
- Will it be possible to lookup fields from a back end database?
YES: Since Ephesoft Transact has an open interface, adding lookup values from Databases (JDBC) or web services (RESTful, SOAP) is straightforward. It is also possible to search or auto complete fields.
- How is security maintained?
All communication occurs via the HTTP protocol, which can be secured using SSL protocols. User authentication needs to be setup on a device level, using card authentication or embedded techniques. Once a user is logged in, Ephesoft will leverage the username and can look up additional values via LDAP, like Email address, home drive etc.
- How can the Ephesoft MFP platform be integrated into other applications?
Ephesoft provides web service calls, which can be integrated into any solution running on devices that are able to call web services. With these calls, Ephesoft manages multi-tenant scanning, reporting and other backend functions, while the application on the device will be responsible for the UI, security and other native functions.
- Is it possible to integrate the Ephesoft MFP platform into my existing cloud broker for provisioning and billing?
YES: Ephesoft provides methods so an external system can create new tenants, assign devices or pull billing information.
- What are the target markets for Ephesoft Transact and MFP scanning?
Since Ephesoft Transact focuses on providing value through document classification and data extraction, the solutions are business process focused in verticals like Financial Services, Healthcare, Government etc. or horizontals like Invoice Extraction, Customs Document Processing, HR Management etc.
The platform will be available in Q4 of 2016 for interested MPS providers or MFP manufacturers. To learn more about the potential of the Ephesoft MFP integration here.