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Notable in the World of Content Capture: An Interview with NSi President Ali Tehranchi

29 Aug, 2005 By: Aaron Shea imageSource

Notable in the World of Content Capture: An Interview with NSi President Ali Tehranchi

Although the shift to connected
machines from analog copiers is more of a recent phenomenon in the office place,
it was exactly a decade ago that Notable Solutions, Inc. (NSi) President and
Founder Ali Tehranchi recognized the potential value document and content
capture could bring to businesses.

“My career in document imaging started almost 17 years ago with a company called
ViewStar. They made one of the first generation document imaging systems that
ran on the Windows 3.1 workgroup edition,” Tehranchi remembered. “I was a system
engineer putting that system in place and I tell you it was hell. But when it
worked, I saw how the customer enjoyed the savings of both time and money.

“Over the years after that,” he added, “I worked at companies like Booz Allen (a
technology consulting firm) and GTE Vantage Solutions putting various document
imaging and management systems in place for customers. I kept thinking to myself
there must be an easier way to do this scanning and capturing.”

In 1995, Tehranchi teamed up with his brother, who was also heavily involved in
the IT world, to create NSi in Rockville, Maryland. The company landed its first
big contract with MCI Telecom for a workflow system that managed all of its work

“From that point on we grew and never looked back,” said Tehranchi, whose
company has partnered with industry giants such as HP, Kyocera, Xerox, and IKON.

At the center of NSi’s success is its primary capture workflow product AutoStore.
Tehranchi took the time to discuss the successful product, the importance of
document solutions for the copier/printer industry, and the five key ingredients
to selling a workflow program.

imageSource: Explain the AutoStore product.

Ali Tehranchi: AutoStore is a server-based capture workflow product that
basically connects content to an application. In the case of digital copiers and
MFPs, it will connect them to applications such as Documentum, FileNet and
others. It can capture documents from desktops using our Microsoft office
plug-ins or our Windows Add-ons and connect them to the same workflows as
digital copiers.

In today’s market, there is much more than just paper connection or capture, it
is all about content capture and workflow and optimizing processes. If you look
at the customer’s needs, they have content capture problems much more than they
have paper capture problems. Don’t get me wrong, paper is still a big problem,
and that is one type of content captured with AutoStore, but more and more
content is being generated electronically, and our customers will need to
capture that content the same way they have to capture the paper documents.

With AutoStore, all a user sees is a button on their copiers or MFPs that would
connect to workflow such as “Invoice” or “Contracts,” for example. Or if they
are working within their MS Office environment, they will see a similar type of
button. When selected, it will feed the content/document to the workflow that
was designed by the IT administrator.

IS: How important is it for dealers to sell products such as yours? What
does it mean for their future?

AT: Well, you have to look at what has been happening to our market.
First there was a lot of margin in hardware, then it got commoditized and
margins shrunk. Then it was the scan to email or scan to fax applications like
eCopy and others. But if you look at it today, that is being commoditized either
by eCopy, which has opened to the whole world, allowing one dealer to beat the
other one out of a deal with a deeper discount, or by hardware vendors like HP,
Ricoh and others putting that feature set in the box.

What is hot today is scan to application, but I am 100 percent sure this will be
a commodity in less than 12 months. You now have most hardware vendors adopting
various XML or SDK standards and companies like Microsoft or other giants
promoting various ways for applications to connect to devices. So this scan to
application market will be commoditized faster than anything else you can

Capture workflow, however, is a tool that requires someone or some organization
to do some work to put a solution in place, and we all know solutions and
services will never be commoditized. I think there is a saying, “I can give you
bread and you will not be hungry today, but I can show you how to bake bread and
you won’t go hungry again!”

The copier industry will start maturing into a more streamlined capture market,
much like what had happened to scanners in the 1990s. However, the market for
copiers in the distributed capture world will be much bigger than the PC
scanners. After all, it is a multi-function device and it can be used for many
business needs, which means it will become a much more important part of a
business process than PC scanners can be.

IS: How important is the independent dealer channel to your company?

AT: Independent dealers who are focusing on the solutions side of the
business are key in the market we are in. As such, an independent dealer who is
able to provide solutions and services is a key part of our go-to-market
activities in the future.

IS: What are the top five vertical markets for dealers to go after to
sell capture workflow applications?

AT: You got to look to see where there are content and paper flow
problems, and that is not hard to find in the legal, healthcare, government,
education, and insurance markets. Those are the places where dealers should
focus most.

IS: What does the future hold for NSi?

AT: The future of NSi is very bright. We have a massive distribution
channel through our OEM partnerships, we are very profitable and we do not have
to spend a lot on marketing activities. All we need to do is continue to do what
we have done for 10 years—focus on our technology. By the time our competition
figures out what we do in capture workflow, I assure you, we will be a few steps
ahead. The first part of the next generation of our tools will hit the market in
the fall, and I am sure it will generate tons of interest in the market and
surely disturb our competitions’ way of thinking as to where we are going next.

Ali’s Five Key Sales Components

When entering into negotiations to sell a capture workflow program, Ali
recommends that a salesperson from a dealership focuses on these five components
when preparing a proposal:

1. A statement reflecting a clear understanding of the customer’s requirements.
It could be as simple as stating the fact that a customer’s need is to scan to a
shared folder and have the documents in an editable format such as Microsoft
Word. However, if you are selling solutions, you need to be able to show your
customers that you had listened to their requirements and you are addressing
their needs.

2. A good proposal should include all parts of the projects, including all
hardware and software. Nothing should be left to the imagination. Remember, the
customer will hold you responsible for what you are supposed to deliver, so this
item is as important to you as it is to the customer.

3. You should have a project implementation schedule. With document archiving
and scanning, one of the important questions each customer asks is, “When will
it be up and running?” The answer to this question is not a specific date, but
it is a schedule that would identify when the hardware will be in place, when
the software will be implemented, when users will be trained, and when the
customer is ready to use it.

4. What will the Return on Investment be. Every customer wants to know, “How
will this system help me?” The ROI could be hard savings, such as savings on
shipping, or it could be soft savings, such as the amount of time it takes to
find a document if the system is in use. It is critical for the customer to know
when and how they will get their investment back—and then some.

5. Identify your capabilities to address other needs within the account. If a
dealer is able to address accounting needs or have a special niche offering, it
is important to make sure the customer understands that. Each sale should be the
beginning of an up-sale.

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