ROI is the talk of TAWPI

Tools

The economic pressure was palpable during a panel discussion at last week's TAWPI Forum & Expo in Washington, D.C., as panelists explained the competitive necessity to provide a solid ROI for purchasers.

Three of the panelists, who were players in the document capture, conversion and automation space, said deals are still underway despite strapped IT budgets. They admitted things were slow in early spring--recall the economic pessimism during this year's AIIM--but now, more companies are starting a conversation on ECM.

"We've really had to dig into the ROI and the business case," said Jeff Toren, senior sales executive with Kofax. For his company, six to 12 months is the average time frame for ROI to come through, in order to get the software approved--from the IT departments up through the boards.

Despite the stress on making IT investments worthwhile, vendors still aren't willing to make promises.

"Sometimes the people just above the end user don't push the software. We don't own the ROI," said Toren. "We'll help you discover it...but I don't know any vendor that will guarantee ROI."

Ken Kriz, manager of strategic alliances for AnyDoc Software, reminded the panel that ROI does not mean the same thing to everyone. He said, "An ROI is what you want to get out of the technology." A short-term ROI may not give a company the solutions that will allow the company to change and grow with ease.

Panelist Dan Carmel, CEO at SpringCM--a company that offers CMS as SaaS--saw the issue from a different angle than his front-end counterparts. "Software as a service changes the whole equation on ROI," he said. Carmel believes the focus should be on integration, not individual pieces of a solution and their corresponding results.

"ECM is broken as a market due to underlying, broken processes," said Carmel. "We need every combination of vendor that you may use in the market to cooperate and integrate with each other." If that can't be done, Carmel says, enterprises will never get the outcomes they want, and they will have to foot the bill. How do you plan to get vendors to play nice in the sandbox?

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