Turning the Keys to Convergence An Interview with Tim Kelly, Rochester Software Associates By Noel Ward, Managing Editor, Trade Shows April 13, 2007 -- To listen to some leading industry firms these days, one would think workflow is a relatively new and untrodden land of opportunity. Printers everywhere have been languishing in a wasteland of missed deadlines, huge inefficiencies, jobs gone awry, and utter confusion in all production areas. While there are certainly print providers familiar with such pressures, some print providers have been busy mastering digital workflows for years. So have a few software companies. One of them, Rochester Software Associates, has spent over two decades developing products that support many separate areas of the document workflow. Some focus on just one or two tasks while others do several different things. This year the company is expanding its successful offerings further with its new Enterprise Workflow System designed to streamline the convergence of data center and network printing. WTT caught up with Tim Kelly, Senior Vice President at RocSoft to find out more before the show. WTT: Tim, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. A lot of vendors these days are talking about workflow as if it is something new. But Rochester Software Associates has been a workflow company for over 20 years. Does that longevity provide any type of competitive advantage? How does it allow you to position RSA differently than firms with fewer years in the business? TK: Thanks, Noel. And you’re right. Many newcomers have developed an application or two to address a particular workflow need, but that doesn’t mean they can address the needs of most enterprises. RSA’s two decades of experience mean that we’ve already seen the same challenges a customer might be facing and know how to solve their problems. We know the right questions to ask and we know the potential pitfalls. This translates into easier and more reliable installations, not to mention ongoing support. WTT: Every software company says they "customize" their tools to work in specific environments, but I've found that can be something of an overstatement. But many of your products seem to have the flexibility to adapt to a broader range of customer needs. What distinguishes RSA’s approach to software? TK: Through extensive consultation with customers, long before the installation, we learn what features they need and we can activate them as necessary. Sometimes, there might be a particular request that requires customization. But that new feature will become a standard offering which all current and future customers can take advantage of. A great example is WebCRD’s Approval Authority. Originally a custom request, this feature enables approval, rejection, or modification of jobs by a designated approver, based on cost or content. Unlike competitors, we don’t have “code branches” where different customers run different versions of the software and are out of luck when the main application is upgraded. This makes the product stronger, easier to support, and a better investment for customers. WTT: RSA has a lot of products spanning job submission, transformation and print management. There probably aren't many companies that need to use everything you offer, yet I’ve seen more and more of your customers using more and more of your distinct products. What are some of the reasons that you see driving this? TK: We see different distinct competitors in the transform market, output management market and the web to print market. But, there is no other software company with strong products in all of these markets. With enterprises consolidating print centers, merging the data center and the in-plant/CRD, there is a need for a broader set of solutions. RSA is well-known for its legacy data stream transformation products such as M.I.S. Print and IPDSPrint, and that’s how many enterprises have become RSA customers. QDirect, RSA’s Enterprise Output Management solution, grew out of those early customers who said “Now that I can increase volume by consolidating my data center printing with my network production printing, I wish I could manage all of this output.” Mainframe Downloader is another example where customers may have purchased our M.I.S. Print solution to convert LCDS to PostScript, but they had to rely on expensive, third-party proprietary hardware with associated lease payments to connect their legacy mainframe to modern printers. Mainframe Downloader is a recent addition to our portfolio offering a low cost software solution to add TCP/IP Print spooling directly from the mainframe. With Advanced Encryption Standard and compression built-in, Mainframe Downloader is a great solution that pays for itself almost immediately. So we do indeed find that a lot of our customers continue to adopt RSA solutions to improve their enterprise workflow. When you add WebCRD, RSA’s web portal to the print center, you have a very unique set of solutions that work together to manage today’s consolidated print center WTT: So following up to that, what are some ways you can address more of a company's workflow needs at the enterprise level? TK: I'm glad you asked that. We are announcing RSA’s Enterprise Workflow System at AIIM / OnDemand. This is RSA’s brand for all of our workflow offerings, which are particularly suited to the needs of the enterprise. Large corporations, including our partners, prefer to work with fewer partners who can offer more pieces of the workflow puzzle. And those pieces need to be specifically targeted towards the enterprise. We run primarily on Sun Solaris servers, to deliver production-grade reliability and security. Running a production print center behind a Windows PC is a recipe for downtime and enterprises understand that. We’ve designed our user interface for WebCRD to deliver the fastest submit in the industry, with single-screen ticketing and job presets for commonly used finishing requests. This makes a big difference for frequent submitters, typical in the enterprise. Approval Authority plus ‘Order On Behalf Of” capability makes our software fit well within the hierarchy of a typical enterprise. And SurePDF, RSA’s print driver based on Adobe PDF JobReady, offers unlimited client licenses for one low price, which is really attractive to any enterprise with 100 users or more. Basically, the breadth and depth of RSA’s Enterprise Workflow System addresses many enterprise requirements, whether it’s job submission from PCs, Mac, Web, or hardcopy, transforming legacy and proprietary data streams for output on any PostScript Production Printer, and Enterprise Output Management. Our customers and our partners know that they can meet multiple workflow needs, for enterprises large and small, with RSA’s Enterprise Workflow System. WTT: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges in workflow software? And how do you see this changing? TK: The ongoing trend in the industry and the economy is doing more with less. The more productive a Print Center can be, with fewer touches and fewer interruptions, the better. That is why we’ve committed so many resources around technologies like AutoStock, AutoFlow, and our Production Dashboard, all of which make it easier to manage supply and meet demand with minimal operator intervention. WTT: Traveling around the industry I've talked with a number of companies that use various RSA products. Most seem to use at least a couple of your products and seem very satisfied with how the products work in their environments, and with the company. I usually don't hear such positive feedback about anything in this industry. What do you think makes customers so positive about RSA? TK: That’s very reassuring, and frankly not surprising. One of our core business strategies has always been to use delivery – installation, service and support – as a means of differentiation. We’ve been successful because of our 100% Guarantee and our service team’s ability to keep customers satisfied. We quietly go about our job, making our partners successful, and our end users happy, and that’s the kind of reputation we’re thrilled to have. WTT: What will RSA have at On Demand that you want to make sure people are aware of? TK: In addition to the launch of the Enterprise Workflow System, we have some new products such as VIPP Print and PadPrint, plus enhancements to existing products such as the Production Dashboard for WebCRD. We are also happy to have one of those Enterprise customers, Phil Larson from American Fidelity, speaking about his experiences with RSA. Phil will be on a panel entitled “Growing In-Plant Migration” on Tuesday April 17th at 4pm. In fact, American Fidelity is a great example of what we’ve been talking about. They started out with our M.I.S. Print transform offering. Their positive experience with RSA led them to acquire QDirect and most recently they added WebCRD. The Enterprise Workflow System is our branding of what our customers have been doing on their own--installing multiple solutions to solve the complex needs of any enterprise, and we look forward to showing off the system at AIIM / OnDemand. Please offer your feedback to Noel. He can be reached at [email protected]