FileNet to 'leverage' off Microsoft's plans

FileNet to 'leverage' off Microsoft's plans

By Gerard Knapp

In an effort to "stay out of the way of the juggernaut", imaging and workflow specialist FileNet has an arrangement whereby one of its executives is permanently based at Microsoft's headquarters.

This allows FileNet to stay close to the latest developments to come from Microsoft - such it as adding workflow and text retrieval engines to Exchange - and prepare for their release, said Ted Smith, founder and president of FileNet.

Speaking at a special seminar in Sydney last month, Mr Smith said there is "another generation of FileNet Ensemble (its Windows-based workflow package) down the road that leverages Microsoft Exchange's workflow functions".

He said it was FileNet's "aim to leverage Microsoft's developments in workflow. That is, to take advantage of the increased Microsoft functionality".

He said the workflow engine in Exchange will be "useful, but not as powerful as FileNet WorkFlo. If there is a major job to be done," he said, companies should apply specialist applications and "not wait for the unknown".

His comments about Microsoft were in response to a question from one attendee who believed the company would include a workflow engine and text retrieval to Exchange by the end of this year.

Mr Smith could not reveal any release dates for the upgraded Microsoft packages, but said that FileNet will "try to follow as closely as possible (within three to six months), but it will be a function of the individual products".

He said it was difficult to predict Microsoft release dates and determine "what is real and what is going to slip".

Mr Smith also announced the latest release from FileNet, an integrated package of applications called the "Saros Discovery Suite".

One year after FileNet purchased Watermark and Saros, two specialist US software companies, the company has released a suite that includes an imaging viewer (Watermark), workflow (FileNet Ensemble) and document management (Saros).

Mr Smith told Image & Data Manager the branding of the package under the Saros name was a reflection of the product's "focus on EDM (electronic document management)".

The Discovery Suite is priced at $720 per seat (in the 100-user pack), which is well below the cost of buying the three components individually (see full story page 15). However, the minimum size package is for 10 seats.

He said the demand for document management systems reflected the growth of PCs, where most documents "are only available to the author or immediate colleagues".

Meanwhile, the roll-out of FileNet Ensemble (the Windows-based application which was only released late last year) were at "modest volumes".

A recent survey in the US Imaging World magazine rated Mr Smith number one in its 50 most influential people survey. After founding FileNet in 1981, he developed FileNet into an industry leader in the imaging, workflow and document management markets.

The finance and insurance sectors had accounted for 50% of FileNet's business worldwide, but "there is a broader picture that we really should be thinking about", he said.

With 70-90% of a company's information in "unstructured" form, such as faxes, paper, email, electronic documents and microfilm, there was a growing requirement for enterprise-wide document management systems.