Streamlining operations a 'strategic necessity,' says Kofax

  • Malaysia one of the key markets for Kofax
  • Many companies in South-East Asia still doing things manually

Streamlining operations a 'strategic necessity,' says KofaxKOFAX Ltd, a software company specialises in 'smart process applications' (SPAs), believes that streamlining business operations no longer offers any advantage to companies because it has now become a “strategic necessity."
 
The California-based company, listed on Nasdaq and the London Stock Exchange, was founded close to 30 years ago. Today, its solutions are mainly used by banks and insurers.
 
“A lot of companies out there are already using our technology. The challenge now is to get them to see the importance, the need to understand that streamlining business operations is no longer a strategic advantage, it is a strategic necessity,” Stanley Chia, regional vice president for Asia Pacific (pic), told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Kuala Lumpur recently.
 
Many companies use Kofax solutions mainly to automate documents processing. For example, a bank would be able to allow its customers to apply for a new account or a loan simply by filling up forms and subsequently sending the necessary supporting documents [such as a scanned copy of a passport or identity card, and salary slips] online.

“This could result in a quicker response time for the banks and translates to better customer experience. Today, interest rates are almost the same amongst banks, so they need differentiate themselves on speed and customer experience.
 
“In the past, perhaps there were five employees responsible for document verification. With our solutions, you may only need one, and the other four employees can focus on adding value at a higher level,” Chia claimed.
 
Manufacturers dealing with a lot of invoices could also find its SPAs useful, Kofax claims.

The company also offers invoice and AP (accounts payable) automation solutions. With these solutions, manufacturers can process invoices in a quicker and more efficient manner. Once the invoice is scanned, relevant details such as customer’s name, invoice number, delivery order number, invoice amount and so on would be automatically inserted into the system.
 
Its AP solution is also smart enough to detect irregularities, the company claims. For example: the user of the system will be identified when a supplier sends an invoice to a manufacturer with an incorrect delivery order number, as it is able to identify whether the delivery order number provided on the invoice is the same number as the delivery order it received.
 
Chia said that Kofax solutions work well with existing ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) systems.
 
“The 'system of engagement' can be a CRM system, like a bank teller window for example, while the 'system of records' is normally the ERP.
 
“We provide the bridge that captures the information that comes out from the system of engagement and then populate the back-end system of records with the information,” he said.
 
However, the established ERP vendors also have similar solutions. So how does Kofax differentiate itself?
 
Chia argued that the difference is that Kofax can combine different technologies such as information capture, mobile and business intelligence into one single platform, and this platform can be used across different lines of the customer’s business.
 
“For example, if a bank wanted to automate the credit card application process, using mobile, we can capture the identity and payslip information, digitalise the information with our transformation module, and then analyse where and how the process is being managed.
 
“So, we are the only technology company that can encompass these different technologies into a single platform," he claimed.
 
“Now, say six months later, the loan department wants to automate its process as well. Does that mean the customer needs to go out there and buy another platform specifically for loans? The answer is 'no.'  It leverages the same platform, the same technology of mobile, analytics and business process management,” Chia said.
 
“For them [the ERP players], it is more of a point of sales. They do have solutions to capture the information, but that’s all they do. If you want to do integration, then they will bring in an integration tool; if you want mobile, they will bring in a third party, then it’s all glued together," he argued.
 
Chia said he believes that by doing all that on a single platform, which is in the spirit of streamlining operations, companies are able to improve their customer experience, reduce operating cost, and increase customer satisfaction.
 
SEA a key market

Meanwhile, according to Chia, Malaysia and the greater South-East Asian region are key markets for Kofax. He said that Malaysia is growing in two important areas – its economy and level of technology maturity.
 
“We are seeing that Malaysia has also passed the point of infrastructure investments. It is looking at value-added areas like how to streamline operations, how to create greater levels of collaboration, and how to grow businesses -- as opposed to 'we need more network, we need more hardware and connectivity',” he said.
 
While he sees Malaysia and South-East Asia as markets with “a lot of opportunities," they do come with challenges.
 
“A lot of companies are still doing things manually. We see a lot of manual processing of documents, and in these [emerging South-East Asian] countries, the misconception is that if companies need to increase productivity, they just need to add more people," said Chia.
 
“But that doesn’t streamline business operations. It it doesn’t reduce the risk that comes with manually eyeballing information, which is still prone to mistakes,” he said.
 
Related Stories:
 
Banks not meeting customer expectations: SunGard research
 
Banks should be banking on APIs and apps, not applications

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