ABBYYForce for Box

Use Case:  The Salesforce product offering now is much more than it once was just a few short years ago with the focus primarily on their core Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software as a Service (SaaS) capability.  The ecosystem has evolved to where there are many useful, as well as, innovative SaaS applications built using the Force.com, and other platform services that Salesforce now offers.  The ease of relative use from a development standpoint, the time to start utilizing an application as well as the decreased complexity is just a few of the reasons why the platform is so successful.  An independent third-party CustomerSat Survey in July/August 2009 had the below interesting statistics to confirm these platform benefits:

The platform encourages new innovation with easy to use development environments and this translates directly into terrific technology solutions design opportunities for hardware manufacturers, mobile developers, SaaS providers and even Enterprise customers themselves to create custom mashup applications for their precise needs.  In this particular solution we will use a similar platform concept with the exception that instead of CRM application logic and workflow, the ABBYYForce project is offering Conversion and Data Capture as a Service.  Salesforce with their support of metadata and logic, in conjunction with ABBYY as a Service metadata extraction technology and Box secure storage and collaboration are an ideal solution for Enterprise organizations looking for best-of-breed functionality.

An animated version of the vision:

Use case scenarios:

  1. Scanning device manufacturers and mobile developers:  Devices that are capable of capturing images is quickly becoming ubiquitous.  This includes not only all the dedicated or network-attached sheet-fed devices but also all the multifunction devices with scanning capability and especially mobile devices with smart phone cameras.  The opportunity for device manufacturers, as well as, software developers that create integrated solutions using their tools and SDK’s is tremendous to offer more of a complete solution than just the capture device itself.  Box is a perfect option because highly secure storage and effective collaboration on content is at the core as a least common denominator of customer expectations.  Additionally, Box offers many methods to integrate with their service including Box API, Box OneCloud Platform or Box Embed so there are several different options depending on requirements.
  2. Software as a Service (SaaS) providers:  SaaS solution providers are revolutionizing the way that business applications are delivered with great potential in offering their customers improved operational efficiency without the time-consuming tasks of procuring, installing and deploying traditional on-premise software.  Now organizations of all sizes can have robust, enterprise-level applications such as CRM, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Travel & Expense (T&E) Management without the typical barriers to actually begin utilizing these applications.  However many of the process workflows associated with most of these applications still involve manual data entry at some point or another.  For example, manually entering business card data into your CRM, keying-in invoice details from a received invoice into your ERP or doing the time-consuming task of entering all the line items details from an expense receipt into your T&E system.  Adding Data Capture as a Service which is a complimentary technology either embedded directly into your SaaS user interface, or as-a-service that can automatically populate index fields with relevant metadata takes improving business efficiency to the next level.  By adding this efficiency improving capability, SaaS providers can provide the tangible return on investment in reduced manual labor costs to help moving forward sales quicker and/or justify subscriptions for additional seat licenses because of the improved total cost of ownership.
  3. Enterprise customers for internal projects:  Since nearly all software as a service applications offer integration possibilities via Web Services application programmers interface (API) this makes integration over the internet much easier than in years past.  Traditionally, integration work to get two systems to communicate together was often an expensive professional services engagement that took time, money and intimate knowledge of these systems.  Standards that Web Services utilizes such as XML, HTTP or REST open up the possibilities for a dynamic group of creative and innovation software developers to integrate applications with agility like never seen before.  Savvy Enterprise customers could possibly already have the internal software development skills themselves, or can outsource projects to this new skilled set of Web Services developers.  In this use case scenario an Enterprise organization can select best-of-breed applications for their particular needs and have a developer with Web Services skills integrate, or just finely tune, applications for tight interoperability.  For example, a solution might use Apttus for their Configure/Price/Quote (QPC) Management system and Concur Travel & Expense (T&E) Management system which both already have Salesforce Force.com integration and then use the ABBYY Data Capture as a Service to integrate Data Capture capability into these applications.  And since the Enterprise realizes that their workforce, and their customers, are highly active via mobile devices they use the Box Web Services API to store the images captured directly into Box.  This way everyone interacting and collaborating on content can use any one of Box’s highly useful mobile applications.
Features Benefits
  • Pre-built templates
  • Customization easily achievable
  • Fit your specific organization needs
  • Quick adoption for better return on investment
  • Reduce outsourcing development costs
  • Agility to fit precise business requirements 

Solution Description:   ABBYYForce is the concept of a pre-built collection of ‘Custom Objects’ within Salesforce that are basically different Document Types.  For example the document types we will use are Business Card, Invoice Statements, Questionnaire and Banking Documents.  These Custom Objects are packaged together in what Salesforce calls an “App” and are given to Salesforce administrators who then can install a complete suite of different document types in minutes.  Capture is an extension of a business process so the first thing we’ll want to do is create the Custom Objects in Force.com.  Once these Custom Objects are created we will then map our Data Capture index fields to the Custom Object fields.

 

System Requirements:

Note:  This is a software developer and/or systems integrator solution.  While many of the concepts are achievable, there is some level of software integration that will be required.

  1. Box account
  2. ABBYY technology (depending on specific requirements)
  3. Salesforce Force.com account

 

Configuration Steps (Complexity = Software integration required):

  1. Subscribe to ABBYY Online Services or login to access the services account
  2. Review the Configure Services menu
  3. Create Custom Objects in Force.com
  4. Create Custom Fields with Data Types in Force.com
  5. Create an input device copy and paste code
  6. Paste the code into your application
  7. Notice the new input device icon now embedded into your application
  8. Configure your back-end connectors
  9. Add new document types or create a new form
  10. Depending on your subscription services you can Create a Conversion widget or Create a Data Capture widget which has field mapping capability to map Data Capture index fields to database fields in the back-end application
  11. Reporting of all subscription services with easy renewal

 

User operation (Complexity = Easy):

  1. User clicks a capture icon or hyperlink to acquire an image
  2. Verify the extracted data for high accuracy
  3. After confirmation then the data is saved immediately into the back-end application

 

Associated screen prints on this solution:

  1.  ABBYY Online registration form

  1. Login to access online services

  1. Configure services

  1. Create Custom Objects in Salesforce

  1. Create Custom Fields with Data Types

  1. Configure input device with copy and paste code

  1. Paste code into your application

  1. Capture device icon embedded into application

  1. Configure back-end connectivity

  1. Document Type Configuration

  1. Creating a new form

  1. Create a Conversion widget

  1. Create a Data Capture widget

  1. Reporting

 

  1. User clicks the icon to acquire an image

  1. Verify extracted data

  1. Once confirmed the data is stored directly into the back-end system

 

 

This is a fairly sophisticated integration that can be achieved rather easily using modern platform development tools and various cloud services.  Do you have any experience using platform services?  Is this type of as-a-service for Conversion and Data Capture of interest to you?  Do you have a specific use case scenario to share?  We’d love to hear from you.

Image Import with Cloud Conversion for Box

Use Case:  Creating electronic image files for paper documents is an important step for organizations to realize process improvement but this is often simply not good enough to achieve true efficiency. In real world business scenarios there most likely is always valuable information trapped in electronic image files stored on file sharing servers, individual persons local disk drives or even stored on “the cloud”.  For this solution we’ll want to take all these isolated electronic, image-only files and upload them to a cloud-based service for processing.  After processing, then we will have the image, as well as the extracted results, sent to Box where the files now contain the indexes that will allow for much improved organization, enhanced security and collaboration of this more “intelligent” electronic information versus just image-only.

  1. One-time processing needed:  Maybe an organization has the need to covert some image-only files into a different format for a one-time project but does not need this capability moving forward.  In this case using a service allows the organization just to pay for the services rendered instead of capital investment in technology, training or maintenance fees
  2. Desire to limit IT infrastructure:  Servers, networking equipment, operation system software and other information technology (IT) required to maintain an organizations own data center is often costly and complicated.  Therefore, a quickly emerging trend is to use software services instead of building your own internal systems.  In this situation the organization can benefit by outsourcing their image conversion process to a services company instead of managing it on their own
  3. Time to utilization:  Business agility is very important these days and any wasted time directly, negatively effects the bottom-line financially.  Therefore, when the situation dictates that the organizations needs image conversion capability and does not have the time or resources to acquire, install, configure and then start using these services, it is much more desirable to use a service.

 

Features Benefits
  • Cloud processing, OPEX vs. CAPX
  • Unlimited scalability
  • Economies of sharing advanced technology
  • No technical infrastructure to install
  • Easily increase volumes as needed
  • Allows organizations of all sizes to share sophisticated resources by sharing costs

 

Solution Description:   Even after we hope to achieve efficiency-euphoria by digitizing all our electronic documents, the reality is that images themselves are of little value until we apply some form of conversion or data extraction to these images so that computers can understand the content, or context, of the information contained in the image.  In this particular solution we will use a cloud-processing service and then store in Box.  This means that there is absolutely no infrastructure to install and also no need for training.  All the user has to do is upload an image!

 

System Requirements:

Note:  This is a software developer solution.  We are using the ABBYY OCRSDK.com service to perform the conversion functionality.  We will use two methods in this solution to upload images to this conversion service.  One will be a demo application and one will be a web interface to upload the images.  Sample source code for many platforms and operating systems is provided so that a graphic user interface can be created with minimal effort.  Additionally, to get free access to try this type of functionality for yourself right now please visit www.FineReaderOnline.com.

  1. Box account with Box Sync
  2. Internet connection
  3. ABBYY OCRSDK.com account

 

Configuration Steps (Complexity = Easy):

  1. In our desktop demo application for OCRSDK.com we have created it to be able to upload images, utilize various OCRSDK.com features then return the results back to our own computer.  In real-world scenarios you might chose to integrate this capability to deliver results directly into a back-end system
  2. Open Box Sync and click the Change ‘My Box Files’ location.  Browse to the folder for your OCRSDK.com results and press the OK button to save your settings
  3. Drag images from your computer into the Active tasks window within the application
  4. Once the images have been processed then you can view Completed tasks in the right window of the application
  5. Log into Box and you can view your files that have been automatically uploaded via Box Sync
  6. …or, using the web interface demo you can see dragging files to be uploaded, then you can see them processing and finally you can view and/or save the results

 

User operation (Complexity = Easy):

  1. Drag and drop files into a user interface as we demonstrated in our two examples.  Again, these are demo applications so that user experience will vary from a visual standpoint
  2. Using the OCRSDK.com sample source code, software developer’s can be creative to design different types of solutions including embedding this functionality into an existing application, creating a brand new application or extending this capability to different devices such as camera-enabled mobile devices

 

Associated screen prints on this solution:

1.  Box Sync:  Change ‘My Box Files’ location

2.  Change Box Sync Folder

3.  Drag-and-drop using OCRSDK.com demo application

 4.  Active tasks and Completed tasks using OCRSDK.com demo application

 5.  Converted files automatically synced into Box

 6.  Drag-and-drop web-based interface for OCRSDK.com

7.  Processing using web-based interface for OCRSDK.com

8.  Files finished using web-based interface for OCRSDK.com

Thank you for your attention to this Innovative Solution for Box.  Since this is primarily a software developer type solution I would suspect that there probably are many creative ways to implement this service.  Do you have an idea or thought about image conversion as a service?  Is there are interesting use case scenario that you would like to discuss?  We would love to hear from you.