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  1. Technology
September 22, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire-based PCL Group Ltd, billing itself as the largest UK data capturer, has become a distributor of Park City, Utah-based TextWare Corp’s forms processing software. PCL already uses TextWare’s personal computer-based products in Star-Net, a service that offers data capture and clean-up to large corporations and organisations. It believes the UK market for data capture will be worth ú1,000m by 2000. However, the market is going to have to grow at break-neck speed to achieve this: PCL claims to be a third larger than its nearest rival, but even as the largest such firm in the UK, it turns over only ú8.5m a year in the imaging and data capture market. Chief executive, Trevor Clarke, said the current figures didn’t truly reflect the actual situation. The market was very fragmented, with many companies doing data capture themselves, and a scattering of very small bureaux offering services. But with the advent of technology like TextWare’s, and the increasing automation of data capture by the use of scanning, optical and intelligent character recognition software and hardware, data capture would be too costly for many of the small bureaux and of no interest to many companies still doing it in-house. This will, he believed, give companies like PCL an opportunity to lead a major growth in the market and by teaming with TextWare, PCL believes it has a two-year technological lead on its nearest rivals. Next year, it’s moving onto the continent. The TextWare software being used in Star-Net and which PCL will sell, is EZ-C and DE-2/Images. The former is for use when keying data from hard copy; the latter works with EZ-C or with anything that has been read into a system using optical character recognition. Both are really front end systems to other imaging applications. They both come with a program called JobFlow, which routes batches of work from task to task. To begin with, in the UK PCL will concentrate on vertical markets like insurers and banks, as the Star-Net service is really for high volume, in excess of 5,000 forms a day, use. The service captures the customer’s data from paper, microfiche or microfilm, enhances the image, indexes it and then stores it. It can do all this at a distance: for example an ú8m contract with the Home Office has seen PCL install 12 scanners at New Scotland Yard, where criminal records are scanned, and then electronically transmitted to Glasgow where they are then captured using TextWare products. PCL’s other work includes facilities management and direct mail services, including software. It has turnover of ú22m and employs 800 in the UK.

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