Two weeks ago I traveled to Clearwater Beach, Florida for Square 9’s Encompass end user and reseller conference. The theme was “Changing the Direction of Your Business,” a fitting theme for attendees as well as Square 9 itself as the company rockets ever faster upwards in the hearts and minds of the office technology dealer channel thanks in large part to its flagship document management solution, SmartSearch.
The conference featured the obligatory educational sessions where one could drill down deeper into the company and its products. The sessions were arranged into three tracks—an end user track, a technical track, and a reseller track. Each session was designed to drive process improvement by providing thoughtful and well presented technical, sales, product, and marketing information. I spent most of my time in the reseller sessions. I understand the technical track was at times highly technical, playing directly into the wheelhouse of some of the technical personnel from the reseller community in those sessions.
Overall, the attendees listed heavily towards resellers with 70 percent representing that segment while the remaining 30 percent were end users.
Keying in on the Keynote
The keynote address by Square 9 co-founder and President & CEO Stephen Young covered a lot of ground, including the origins of Square 9 (Click here to read my profile of Square 9 from the May 2015 issue of ENX.), a discussion of the document management industry along with current and future initiatives. I’d call it the ultimate overview and the ideal primer for the subsequent educational sessions.
“At Square 9 our mandate is to help our customers develop change to help make them more efficient, more sustainable, and a better practice through process improvement,” said Young opening up his keynote.
The name of the game these days for Square 9 and what Young describes as the future of the document management industry is Business Process Management (BPM). “The days of scan, store, retrieve are over,” he emphasized, “it’s time to talk about improving people’s business processes.”
Raising the specter of change, Young observed, “Our commitment to change is to help our customers realize their full potential by making them more growth centered, more globally competitive, and increasingly efficient.”
Those are ambitious ambitions to say the least and Young would go on to identify various initiatives that described how Square 9 would accomplish those goals.
Historically, one of Square 9’s strengths is service and in addition to expanding product development, Young explained how the company built a world class professional services team that provides a higher level of support and delivers responsiveness in minutes rather than days. He noted that his team can deliver in less than seven minutes on average, and as low as 45 seconds.
“Overall we’ve been able to deliver a higher level of customer service, increase channel loyalty, and ultimately increase our revenue and realize exponential growth,” said Young.
Big Data & Metrics
Big Data is starting to pop up in conversations at industry events and Young did not ignore the importance of this either, noting that even though this is the era of Big Data, it’s really about using that data across multiple applications.
“Organizations want to extract high value data so it can be repurposed and sent to other applications,” stated Young. “Cloud and mobility are new apps to efficiency. We went from document management to content management, [but now] we’re really talking about BPM (Business Process Management). That’s where we are today.”
BPM is something that Young contends everyone can participate in. He predicted that BPM adoption rates will continue to increase as a natural [evolution] of ECM and that broader adoption rates will help reduce acquisition costs as more customers talk to resellers about this.
“High value data being extracted now will further fuel BPM growth,” said Young.
The cloud is another area that offers great potential with Young pointing out that now more than ever, customers are looking for solutions that leverage all the cloud has to offer. Incidentally, Young later noted that Square 9 was cloud ready from the beginning.
Square 9 thrives on metrics, is adept at leveraging this data, and constantly monitors the pulse of its resellers. Nowhere was this more evident than in the results of a 2015 reseller survey that Young shared with this audience. Data collected in this survey identified what’s important to Square 9 resellers and is instrumental for future product development and product enhancements.
When asked what was important to them the responses in descending order included a stronger web interface, meaning the ability to manage products from wherever they are from a browser. That enhancement will be introduced in December 2015. Second on the list was automated OCR classification or the ability to recognize a document and automatically assign it to extract that data into a template. That’s scheduled for a Spring 2016 release. Also important to resellers is tighter integration with MS Office 365, which will allow users to work more efficiently with Word and Excel documents for example. Expect to see that capability in Spring of 2016. Actionable stamps or signatures in workflow—the ability to put a stamp or signature in a document and trigger a workflow event rated second highest and will be available in Fall 2016. The most popular request was a cloud-based SaaS solution that will enable full workflow and forms automation and is scheduled for release in November 2015.
“[That’s] a model that will really work for our reseller community,” said Young.
In addition to these product enhancements, Young also revealed that Square 9’s popular Global Forms, which eliminates paper forms will soon be available as a SaaS product.
With workflow being a prime consideration in business today and subsequently in product development, another new entry is GlobalAction. This is what Young called, “Our big change; a solution designed as a BPM engine.”
GlobalAction is a web-based solution, which means there’s nothing to install on a computer, plus it’s designed to be used as an on premise or a cloud solution.
Also look for Global Metrics, a new reporting engine still in development that will be introduced sometime in 2016.
“It’s not about putting your documents in motion, you need to understand where those documents are and the metrics to improve business processes,” stated Young.
Other notable initiatives include an expanded reseller support program that will roll out in the coming year along with new initiatives related to education services such as e-learning sales education, increased localized training for resellers and end users, and expanded product documentation.
Young reports that the company’s overall vision is to build a global development community as well as expand its development. “We need our reseller community to step up and do some of this integration as well,” he said.
Here Square 9 is looking at new BPM activity calls that can be made, looking to create new tools using some of the advanced database and administration calls that were just released, and building custom BPM assemblies.
Another interesting initiative for 2016 will be the introduction of the Square 9 App Exchange where the company’s integration partners who develop Square 9 related apps can share them with other partners, and be paid for those apps.
“These could be custom integration projects with third parties like the one we developed with SalesForce,” explained Young.
Young covered a lot in his 40-minute keynote while the educational sessions allowed attendees to drill down deeper into the company, its products, and its services. Some of the more interesting reseller sessions included one devoted to Square 9’s product strategy, the horizontal approach to solutions marketing, cloud strategy, building a professional services practice, marketing to your base as a way to grow sales, digital marketing, and a reseller roundtable.
To sum it up, Encompass 2015 was the perfect opportunity to gain a richer and deeper understanding of the past, present, and future of Square 9 and the document management industry as a whole. It also underscored why growing numbers of resellers are partnering with a company whose profile is rapidly rising.