As per the previous post, I had a chance to see Digitech unveil the latest addition to PaperVision Capture (more later) and the long awaited forms processing solution we’ve all been hoping they’d write: Forms Magic. It seems some of their developers have been challenged and inspired, internally and externally, to release a next-generation forms processing and data extraction application, and from the look of it they’ve succeeded. Forms Magic processes scanned images and various other file types and extracts everything from heading detail to line items, and it’s especially good at recognition and classification of different form types.

As alluded to, PaperVision Forms Magic is intended to build on to the PaperVision Capture suite. At this stage, though, it remains a separate system and is handled by Digitech’s own professional services team (an industry rarity: they mean it when they say ‘professional’). But Digitech’s CTO made it clear that integrating into PV Capture is a priority for the company, and he’s not lead us wrong in the past so I look forward to the announcement. Even as a stand-alone product, it shows a lot of promise – I have two invoice processing projects on the burner that need exactly this product, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the data and working with Digitech to get it in front of the client. If it can do for these customers (a private college and a retail group recovering from our latest recessions) what they demonstrated on site, then I think we’ll be able to secure some good business and give the client a powerful, cost-saving solution. Can’t wait to get it out to the railways.

Forms Magic is competitively priced and the margin for the reseller, while less percentage-wise than a typical PaperVision or PaperVision Capture module, is both attractive and fair to the end-user and partner. One gets the feeling they might publish MSRP to remain attractive on the street. In fairness it has to be done – you can’t continue to lose business due to an overzealous partner pricing a product out of range. Digitech have stuck true to their channel and they deserve a lot of respect for that, but it’s good to see them exert a little more influence on how their product is represented and sold. Again, that’s all conjecture – I have no idea what their plans are for pricing once it’s all integrated or whether it will stay in PS or whether they’ll publish pricing. I just think they should, and this seems like the product to do it.

It’s all a part of a palpable vibe of change at the company – again, nothing they publicly announced, but I get the feeling they had an interesting 12 months previous. To start off with – now it’s DSU, it’s midweek, no heavy marketing push – let’s get to the products, end of. And there’s a lot of good in that, although I think they could have struck a better balance between the old and new. They just seemed to have an open, corner-turning feel about them, like they’d re-discovered what was fun about being a software company – coming out with new product and turning other people on to it. It seemed a really healthy vibe and I’m happy for them, the individuals who make up that company and the group as a whole.

Got a little tear-jerky there, didn’t I? Never mind, back again in a few days with an update: I had started down an OpenERP road sometime back and I enjoyed learning about it. I’ll take this company into those areas in years to come – I’d envision a hosted OpenERP environment in an Azure patch at a low monthly rate, with predefined configurations for retail, logisitics, etc. But that might change by the time I get around to it – it was a pleasant distraction but the business of getting down to business has taken 100% of my energy and I had to back off; ultimately I just needed the CRM portion and I kept getting too deep into the rest of the product. So I’ve wiped it out and switched over to the Community Edition of SugarCRM, all running locally. It’s definitely doing the trick and I’m just using it for what I really need, so no more distractions (don’t count on it).

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