This month inFORM Decisions celebrates their 20th year in business, as a consistently focused IBM i native Document Management solution provider. The company was founded in 1994 by Dan Forster with the help of a personal angel investor, some talented RPG programmers, and "the maximum of my savings and credit cards," laughs Dan Forster, President, inFORM Decisions.
Forster who has been at the helm since the company's inception, says the company has toiled through a number of challenges over the years, including the dot com crash, the incursion of numerous competitors into the space, and the 2008 recession. "We may not be the largest document management company in the industry, but we are stable, profitable and growing. We've had many successful innovations and contributions throughout the years, but if I could credit our longevity in a word it would be "loyalty". The mutual loyalty between my staff and me (an average employment tenure of 9 years); the loyalty to our customers; our customers' loyalty to us; and, our loyalty to the IBM AS/400, iSeries, i platform."
inFORM's original laser form and laser check printing products were simplistic in that they really just merged some boxes and lines with the spool file, "and that was cool at the time", exclaims Forster. The necessary evolution however required us to develop more capability to manipulate the spool and DB2 data so that it could align into new forms (data mapping). Then the company innovated capabilities to actually read through the data and define fields to create dynamic actions like routing through email, fax or to archived drives, merge with other images, signatures, barcodes, etc.
As the concept of going paperless emerged as an accepted practice in the new millennium so began the incursion of numerous competitors from various industries - the preprinted forms industry, the copier and laser printer companies, and various competitors that had previously just sold niche solutions like fax or spool management tools, all of which tried their hand with document management solutions. "Some have failed, some are still out there, and some have merged and shifted their focus on open platform solutions, " says Forster.
Importantly for IBM i users, inFORM's biggest strength is that their solutions have always run natively on the IBM i and they continue to develop and enhance for this platform. inFORM customers appreciate this commitment and new customers are acquired every month who for various reasons are being forced to a much less efficient and less stable PC based solution.
In recent years, IFD's developments have completed the full document and payment workflow for businesses with a simple snap-on to the iDocs output automation products, including, intelligent document capture (OCR form scanning), IBM i web-based document retrieval, and integration into internal workflow (internal routing of documents for approvals and actions).
"It's been a wild ride, and the good news is we no longer need to justify the benefits of going paperless. We just have to position the value of our solutions and elevate our message above the noise of offerings that are now available. We're looking forward to learning, developing, and adding value to the IBM i for another 20 years," comments Forster. "Through all of the years, what still remains is our commitment to the IBM I platform, our loyalty to provide the best solution and support to our customers, and our ability to remain innovative in the constantly changing technology industry."