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Technology Focus: Reports and Letters and Docs, Oh My!

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Despite a general drift toward content management apps for handling document content on other platforms, the IBM i document-management market generally retains its traditional focus on managing doc content and delivery options.

 

Over the past few years, in the computer industry as a whole, there has been increasing confusion between the concepts of document management and content management. In an article on this topic in 2012, "Technology Focus: Document Management Searches for an Identity," several IBM i vendors expressed opinions that drew a line between those two product types. Content management was seen as primarily concerned with controlling content on Web sites, while document management in the IBM i market was seen as being largely concerned with capturing and storing paper and electronic documents and controlling associated workflows.

 

Whether it's the passage of time since then, or more simply a further shaking out of the market, a newer sampling of vendor opinion shows both continued confusion in some areas and growing clarity in others.

Document Management vs. Content Management

It's useful to first check out the standard definitions of document management and content management.

 

"The term 'document management' used to describe the desire to manage structured and unstructured documents within an organization," explains Ken Anderson, vice-president of sales and marketing for IntelliChief. "Structured documents would be documents that were generated internally that could be categorized in some way because the creator has control over the metadata used to define what that document was [or] even to group related documents together." He contrasts structured and unstructured documents with an example of a structured document being a car-insurance policy declaration and an unstructured document being a faxed police report about an incident involving a claim, which would be moved manually through an insurance claims process.

 

"Document management systems changed all that," Anderson continues. "Now everything related could be digitized as images and categorized whether they were structured or not. The document images could now take the place of paper and the business process could be managed within the document-management system itself."

 

Bill Galusha, consultant product marketing manager for EMC's Information Intelligence Group, a company that produces document management products for Windows only, offers a representative view of the difference between content and document management that's typical of the computer industry as a whole.

 

"Content management is much more than simply managing Web site content. It encompasses the ingestion and management of all types of content, including office documents, email, scanned images, video, voice, blogs, rich media, office files, and more…. When it comes to document management, capturing and transforming paper into digital information still remains extremely important to organizations. Paper is still a common medium for gathering information and communicating between businesses and customers. Managing and processing documents is an integral part to an organization's overall content management strategy," Galusha offered in a recent interview with MC Press Online.

 

IntelliChief's Anderson goes on to define digital asset management as a confusing third alternative.

 

"To a recognizable brand like Coca-Cola, for example, their logo isn't just content. It's a digital asset that might go through minute changes over time that need to be categorized and stored and perhaps even changed within the system."

It's Function over Form in the i Market

"There is clearly confusion surrounding the terms content management, document management, and output management," observes Frank Yacano, Symtrax's director of sales and marketing for the Americas. "It is content management that leads to some confusion since content is not limited to Web sites; it is also brochures and other documents."

 

"Vendors and analysts have certainly contributed to the confusion," agrees Anderson. "A printing solution might get described as a document-management system simply because it can take a copy of a structured form and store it as a PDF. Obviously, that's not a true document-management system, but it could get thrown in the same bucket."

 

If one surveys the actual products available in the IBM i market (see below), the products generally fall into two broad categories: document-management apps that include some content-management capabilities and output-management apps that include Web-delivery options. This gives rise to the idea that, within the i market at least, the clearer differentiation may be between the ways apps support business functions.

 

"Content-management solutions and document-management solutions, because they are engineered to solve different business problems, are different products with some crossover features that allow both products to solve some portion of the other's area," summarizes Anderson.

 

"We are in the output-management space," Symtrax's Yacano declares, "which today is mostly about documents. Web content is handled through other software more designed for that purpose."

 

Anderson points to the fact that, in many IBM shops, managing documents is more a function of supporting key business activities such as customer relationship management or enterprise resource planning, rather than managing documents or content per se.

 

"To the majority of our customers, their ERP/System of Record is core to their business, yet it's widely quoted that 70-plus percent of control processes are manual and 80 percent of content is unstructured. It's amazing how manual many business processes [remain], particularly in the back office." He cites the example of a company at which a customer calls in to check on an order receipt. Customer service has to check with sales to see if an order was printed and then check with order entry to see if the order was put in the system. "There are three departments who need to be contacted just to answer a simple question. And what if one of the people in one of those departments is out that day? [A document-management system] creates [a] collaboration in a way the ERP [system] cannot."

 

"Overwhelmingly, the IBM i is a business machine that's used for business transactions like manufacturing, insurance, distribution, etc.," Anderson summarizes. "Since that's the case, we see much more demand in helping customers streamline their back-office functions. This is the low-hanging fruit in squeezing out costs in departments like customer service and accounts payable."

 

The product listings below summarize available offerings for IBM i in the areas of document- and output-management. As always when looking for products or services, be sure to double-check the MC Press Online Buyer's Guide.

Document Management Solutions for IBM i

ACOM

Document Management System

Document Management System is a suite of products that handles imaging, workflow, management, and distribution tasks for documents. It includes ACOM's EZContent Manager, which helps users build secure electronic document libraries; EZRetrieve, software that accesses documents across platforms from within any application; and EZeCabinet, which offers a unified repository for all enterprise documents and records.

 

EZeDocs

EZeDocs is an electronic-forms design and document-delivery system that helps users create invoices, purchase orders, reports, checks, forms, and other business documents without requiring pre-printed forms or custom programming. Documents produced can be printed or distributed electronically as fax or email messages.

 

BCD International

Nexus Portal

Although designed primarily as a Web-portal solution, Nexus' focus is assembly and organization of business information gathered from documents and applications. Nexus includes a content-management application that handles all aspects of document storage and retrieval and supports document formats that include those of MS Office, Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), and graphics.

 

IBM Corporation

WebSphere XML Document Management Server (XDMS)

XDMS is available for IBM i servers running AIX or Linux. It helps users manage, share, and distribute eXtensible Markup Language (XML) documents of any type with each other or across applications.

 

inFORM Decisions

iDocs

The iDocs suite is concentrated on helping users design and produce forms, checks, and documents from IBM i spooled output. Suite members help users format documents, filter and distribute them, and index and archive them in a Web-based repository.

 

IntelliChief

IntelliChief

IntelliChief is a document-management suite that offers forms processing, electronic forms creation, document search and retrieval, and doc printing. It supports document imaging and distribution that works with imaged docs, e-docs, faxes, and emails. It also includes a workflow engine that performs according to user-define rules, sends alerts for special documents, and generates an audit trail for all documents.

 

Inventive Designers

DTM

DTM is an XML-based system for incorporating information from databases into electronic documents for display and distribution via the Web, email, and fax. It also facilitates document generation and display between IBM i and MS Office applications.

 

Scriptura Engage

Scriptura Engage is designed primarily for use in customer relationship–management scenarios. It provides centralized content storage, document creation, design and production of customer communications, and control of output processes. It also features security, regulatory compliance tools, and the ability to handle multiple languages and business logic in the same document template.

 

ITM Associates

inFusion

The inFusion suite of products, designed for use with IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino, includes inFusion eForms, which is a workflow solution for creating and routing of electronic forms, and PDF inFusion eReview, which supports online, real-time collaborative review of documents and graphics in files using the PDF format.

 

OpenText

ECM Suite, Content Lifestyle Management

The ECM Suite offers content-management tools for the entire lifecycle of enterprise content. It includes features for records management, workflow processes, imaging, and intelligent storage management within a single enterprise repository.

 

RJS Software

Enterprise Workflow

Enterprise Workflow automates the handling of existing documents by managing and routing documents in a Web environment. It also lets users build workflows, enables control of user access, and generates audit trails of all activities.

 

WebDocs

WebDocs is a browser-based document-management system that lets users digitally manage, store, and distribute all business content. Available either as a licensed application or as a cloud-hosted service, WebDocs handles PC- and server-generated content, email, eforms, invoices, and other document types.

Output Management Applications for IBM i

Aura Equipements

Launcher/400

Launcher/400 is an application for managing IBM i document flows and distributing them to PC users. Launcher/400 includes tools for designing new document flows, can distribute IBM i data to Windows directories or Microsoft applications, and routes outgoing documents via multiple channels.

 

BCD International

Catapult

Catapult lets users reformat, archive, and distribute IBM i spooled files or PC files to multiple recipients. Product options include file conversion to PDF or HTML, distribution via fax or email, addition of graphics, and exporting of documents to indexed Web files for later retrieval.

 

Monarch for EZ-Pickin's

Monarch for EZ-Pickin's is a report data-mining application that helps users translate IBM i reports into interactive views, export report data to MS Office applications, and customize data extraction, summary, and display actions.

 

Spool-Explorer

Spool-Explorer gives local or remote PC users direct access to IBM i spooled files for viewing, sharing, conversion to other file formats, and publishing to a secure Web portal.

 

Digital Designs

DocAgentDE

DocAgentDE is a distribution application that translates printed documents into digital forms for distribution via fax, email, Web, and XML. It also provides archiving services, selective encryption of email attachments, and conversion of documents to PDF format. DocAgentDE is available as either a licensed application or a cloud-based service from the vendor.

 

DRV Technologies

DBXFlex

DBXFlex is a database output–management solution that lets users select, extract, format, and analyze business information from multiple database files and then publish the results in PDF, MS Excel, or CSV output types.

 

Help/Systems

ROBOT/Reports

ROBOT/Reports automates the report-related tasks of bundling, distribution, formatting, archiving, and viewing reports electronically on the IBM i. Users can choose between PC- and browser-based viewing options, as well as options that let them view, save, download, and annotate report documents.

 

LaserVault

LaserVault Reports

LaserVault Reports archives and indexes computer reports from IBM i servers (and other platforms) and makes them available in a browser interface for retrieving, printing, faxing, and emailing.

 

Redwood Software

Report2Web

Report2Web provides a Web-based application that handles content-management and document distribution of reports. It gathers data from existing reports and lets users change each report's content and presentation without programming. The product also provides security, search functions, and workflow options.

 

RJS Software

DeliverNow

DeliverNow is a document automation solution that monitors, converts, and delivers reports, forms, and other documents from business applications on any platform. It can take reports from IBM i spooled files and AIX/Linux/Windows apps and convert them into a variety of file formats.

 

S4i Systems

S4i Express

S4i Express is a browser-based document-delivery app that handles electronic forms, preprinted forms, spooled files, and server documents. It captures, separates, indexes, bundles, and delivers or archives reports and documents. Output formats include PDF, HTML, Excel, Word, and others.

 

Symtrax

Compleo

Compleo is a document output-management suite for IBM i, designed primarily for ERP environments. Suite members include Compleo Archivor, which archives electronic documents for later retrieval; Compleo Designer, which converts ERP system outputs into business documents; Compleo Reviewer, which helps users manage document workflows via a browser; and Compleo Supervisor, which monitors document workflow and outputs.

 

 

John Ghrist

John Ghrist has been a journalist, programmer, and systems manager in the computer industry since 1982. He has covered the market for IBM i servers and their predecessor platforms for more than a quarter century and has attended more than 25 COMMON conferences. A former editor-in-chief with Defense Computing and a senior editor with SystemiNEWS, John has written and edited hundreds of articles and blogs for more than a dozen print and electronic publications. He is currently CEO of John Ghrist Agency, a marketing communications firm for technology companies. You can reach him at ghrist@comcast.net.

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    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.