Q & A with Ike Kavas: Ephesoft CEO

Large organizations have a lot on their plate today when it comes to digitization, cloud migration, data security and overcoming silos between back-office platforms. Ike Kavas, founder and CEO of Ephesoft, a provider of document capture and analytics technology, spoke with IDM about the ongoing challenge for companies seeking to automate their document processes.

IDM: Harvey Spencer Associates (HSA) has just released its 16th annual survey of the Worldwide Capture Software market, which showed an increase of 15.4% to $US4.7B in 2018. The increase was credited the growth in Robotic Process Automation (RPA); is this what you are seeing?

IK: Yes, for sure. I think robotic process automation has created a lot of awareness in the marketplace. There are still many companies that are not automating their document processes.  Even in the United States they spend $US134 billion on data entry related jobs, but the growth of RPA has definitely brought that out in the daylight, and we see a lot more demand these days. We are technology partners with the top 3 leading RPA tools. Customers use Ephesoft to onboard data into their digital workforce so they can access a complete set of data.  One area where RPA has had the biggest impact is in the finance department with any company: accounts payable, order processing, financial audits, and account opening.  CFOs are very cognizant of their ROI and they live and breathe these data challenges every day.

IDM: Is growth occurring in other areas?

IK: Another area that is providing great opportunities for our technology and where we see new customers coming to us is with the rise of data science projects. A lot of people are starting to pay attention to how they can improve the automation in their company using data science, and to do that they need data. AI and machine learning only works if you have the data, and 80% of the data is stuck in the unstructured content. So, they need our services to unearth that data to feed the data scientists. It’s indirectly related to automation, but it's just coming from a different angle that I've not seen before. 

IDM:   Ephesoft uses the term ‘Smart Capture.’ Can you tell me a bit about what that is, and how it differentiates you from other competitors in this area?

IK: I think the bottom line is to be able to use intelligent cognitive way of writing software, and that comes from AI and machine learning. If you can implement the machine learning pattern recognition-based software so that the software can learn from the user experience over time, and then take that experience to other customers, that's the essence of Smart Capture. At Ephesoft, we received a US patent for machine learning in 2016, when it wasn’t even a cool thing. We recognised that early on and started to put that technology in our software. That's why I am proud to say it's Smart Capture. 

IDM:   As company what are your biggest challenges right now?

IK: First, it’s finding and hiring data scientists. All of the big tech companies – like Google, Amazon or Microsoft – set up labs close to big universities and pick off the best and the brightest. They hire thousands and thousands which makes it harder for a smaller software firms like Ephesoft.

There is a related issue when we seek to make the product better using machine learning and AI. To do that, we must have access to data, and we have to be very careful when we collect data, as it has to be anonymised, We have to get permission from our customers to be able to use it, which can be challenging, especially with financial, insurance, government, healthcare and other industries we support. 

IDM: Where do you see Ephesoft in five years' time?

IK: We help our customers get better productivity from their workforce, and today we do that by extracting data from documents as efficient as possible. Five years from now, I think we need to go to a place where we can be the DocuSign of document capture so that we can democratise this technology. But on top of it we also need to start looking at other areas that we can improve productivity for our customers in any region and for any vertical We have some technologies that we are developing in our labs, and, in 2020, we will start to unveil these innovations that are going to drive the next five years. 

Ike Kavas, founder and CEO of Ephesoft