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April 15, 1992


By CBR Staff Writer

Plexus Software Inc, the image processing software specialist based in Swindon, Wiltshire in the UK, has announced two new workflow automation products that it claims are a generation ahead of the competition. The company, which went bankrupt in 1989 following an unstable transition from hardware to software production, to be subsequently rescued by Dallas-based Recognition Equipment Inc (CI No 1,233), has announced ImageFlow and Case Management Application – CMA. According to European manager Rick Mellinger, the former is the first workflow product in the market that is not tightly-coupled to an application. Instead, the client-server-based ImageFlow links up to any application via an Application Programming Interface, enabling workflow processing to be separated from application processing. It is based on Windows 3.0 and the first implementation supports the Informix relational database running on Sun Microsystems Inc Sparcsystems, NCR Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co HP 9000, IBM Corp RS/6000 and Santa Cruz Operation Inc Unix servers. ImageFlow comes with a set of development tools, enabling non-programmers for example to create maps for the flow of information in an organisation. Mellinger claims that no rival product currently exists, since the FileNet Inc system is hard-coded with scripting and fourth generation languages. With ImageFlow, these programming capabilities are claimed to be unnecessary, since all the database structures needed to implement the workflow are automatically created by the graphics-based tools. The second new offering, Case Management Application, has actually been developed using ImageFlow, in combination with Plexus’s flagship XDP image processing software. CMA is claimed to offer 70% of the core functionality needed to develop most vertical market imaging applications. It consists of five activities common to most document processing activities – log-on, input preparation, evaluation, archive and output. Each activity can be accessed through separate modules of common library functions, enabling the developer to customise the software as required. CMA is targeted at value-added resellers, expected to encourage them to develop readyware software packages aimed at specific end-user applications, such as claims processing, insurance underwriting and mortgage loan processing. Both products are due to ship at the beginning of June. ImageFlow is S7,500 for five users; $250,000 for 500 users, plus $2,800 for the development tools. CMA will cost in the region of $115,000. In the UK, Plexus sells its products via Andersen Consulting, Hoskyns and British Telecom, through smaller organisations such as Altos distributor CST, and through hardware partners including Hewlett-Packard, NCR and DEC. ImageFlow is expected to support Oracle sometime next year. Mellinger is a man full of bold claims – he says organisations such as insurance companies have lost their chance to be competitive in the 1990s if they haven’t already committed to at least piloting some sort of image management system. Quoting a BIS Research study, he claims the European market for such systems will grow to over $3,000m by 1995.

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