The API Economy and the new (inter)Face of Capture

RESTful APIWhen the document capture industry was launched, integration was a very monolithic process. For a capture application to be integrated with document management software in the early 2000s, typically it took months of work from engineers on both sides of an integration. This created a series of semi-exclusive alliances among market leaders that made it hard for a start up to break through. Well, things have changed!

In today’s API economy, ease of integration is the name of the game. RESTful APIs create a standards-based means for communication, which enables Web-based applications to interact with each other without the need to do low level programming. This increases the versatility, as well as the stability, of software integration.

In addition to making it easier for a capture application to be integrated with any number of third-party applications, a solid set of RESTful APIs can expose various capture functions separately. For example, our Transact software offers multiple different functions that we have broken out into Web services, which can be accessed through APIs. These include various levels of batch management, recognition, extraction, and document output. The goal of these microservices is to create as much atomic functionality for our customers and partners as they require.

With this level of access, users are no longer tied to a traditional capture workflow of classify, recognition/extract and then output. Leveraging the dynamics created by a set of RESTful APIs, if a document image enters an organization through a non-traditional channel, such as being submitted from a smartphone camera to supplement a mobile request for services, it can receive the processing it needs without having to go through a traditional digital mailroom-type application. Capture market analyst Harvey Spencer Associates cites this type of “on demand capture” as growing more than twice as fast as traditional capture.

What does this mean for Ephesoft’s partners and customers? It gives them the opportunity participate more fully in the emerging API economy. For end users, being able to access capture microservices through RESTful APIs opens up the ability to simplify and accelerate document processing, which should offer benefits like reduced turnaround time and improved service. For partners, it creates the capability to offer flexible capture functionality on demand—enabling them to agilely address a range of customer needs.

Of course, the word “economy” implies that a financial exchange is involved. And being able to address capture with a set of RESTful APIs is vital to creating economically viable capture applications going forward. It enables users to consume and pay for only the services they need. For this convenience, and the inherent scalability associated with cloud services often attached to RESTful APIs, they are willing to pay a premium.

This API economy is the wave of the future when it comes to software deployment. According to HSA, “In the new API economy there is a fundamental shift in the way that capture applications will be developed and delivered. Capture vendors need to take notice, as we are moving into a Capture 2.0 world.” Ephesoft has already noticed, and we’ve designed our software to help our customers and partners get to Capture 2.0 and beyond.