Document Imaging Report Editor Ralph Gammon visited Alaris, a Kodak Alaris business, for a tour of its brand-new facility, including its innovative new Experience Room designed to showcase the Alaris IN2 Ecosystem of information capture hardware, software and services. The following article, which appeared in the September 7, 2018 edition of the DIR, recaps Gammon’s visit and explores why he views Alaris as “a company on the rise.”
ROCHESTER, NY—Alaris has a new office and new management, but the vision of the information capture vendor remains similar to what it announced last year. This summer, the Information Management business unit (formerly Kodak Document Imaging) relocated to Rochester Technology Park, along with the rest of Kodak Alaris, into a recently remodeled space that once belonged to Eastman Kodak. In August, DIR Editor Ralph Gammon visited and met with new VP, Product Marketing Chris Van Zandt, as well as other Alaris executives. Gammon was given a tour of the facility including the innovative Experience Room, an area designed to showcase Alaris’ hardware and software and their ability to integrate with other technology to create document capture solutions.
Van Zandt may be new to Alaris, but he has plenty of experience within the Kodak Alaris family. “I have been with Eastman Kodak and Kodak Alaris for more than 18 years,” he told DIR. “Before moving over to Alaris, I was GM for Kodak Alaris’ photo paper and chemicals business in the Americas. There are a lot of parallels between the two organizations. Alaris just completed a Customer Council meeting, and I saw a lot of similarities between business owners in the Council trying to solve capture problems and the labs where we sold supplies so they could create finished products.”
Van Zandt took over product management at Alaris in November and added marketing to his role this spring. He reports to Don Lofstrom, who was named Acting President and GM of Alaris in October and in March was confirmed by the board in a permanent capacity. Lofstrom has held Alaris-related positions for more than 10 years, serving as CFO, VP of Global Services and VP, Operations. He replaced Rick Costanzo as president. Costanzo joined Alaris in January 2016 after serving in executive positions at SAP and Research in Motion (RIM). He left Alaris to take over as CEO of RANK Software, a security and analytics ISV based in Toronto.
Van Zandt took over VP of marketing duties from Sid Bhattacharya, who had joined Alaris from Xerox about the same time Costanzo was hired. In 2017, Bhattacharya laid out for us a strategy centered around Alaris’ IN2 ecosystem—a solutions focused portfolio designed to “take the complexity out of information capture.” “IN2 started with a comprehensive problem statement—our goal now is to address those problems,” said Van Zandt. “Our mission and vision statement is to deliver innovative solutions that utilize our image capture expertise to optimize business processes. We also have a very image capture-centric mission statement.”
Alaris’ portfolio consists of its award-winning line of document scanners, a few different software products, and global product service and professional services. Last year, the vendor introduced its S2000 series of 50-80 ppm scanners, which feature onboard image processing and are Alaris’ first scanners that are not branded as “Kodak” products. The company also announced a new “Alaris” branded partner program last year and has launched a new Web site (www.alarisworld.com), which runs separate from the Web site of its parent company.
The parent company continues to operate as Kodak Alaris and has three divisions—Alaris (the document imaging/capture group), the photographic paper and chemicals group, and a retail-focused kiosk and online photo management group. All the groups have relocated to the new Rochester Technology Park site and are under the direction of CEO Marc Jourlait, who took over the organization in December 2016.
The new digs and branding are representative of the organization’s efforts to create an identity for itself. It had formerly rented office space at Eastman Business Park, which is operated by Eastman Kodak. Alaris is also promoting its own teal and black logo, in contrast to the familiar red and yellow of Eastman Kodak. “As part of our spin-off from Eastman Kodak, we have perpetual rights to use the Kodak brand,” noted Van Zandt. “There are some plusses and minuses with that.
“On the plus side, the Kodak brand speaks to our robust history in imaging and our engineering prowess. On the minus side, Eastman Kodak also owns the brand, which they have licensed to a manufacturer of consumer scanners. That’s something we are not thrilled about but there is nothing we can do. We also don’t necessarily want to be strapped to the mast related to their financial situation.”
The document capture software portfolio also now carries the Alaris brand. It has been simplified since we last wrote about it. Info Input Express, a lighter weight application that was originally announced as being bundled with the S2000 series, has been discontinued in favor of Smart Touch, a desktop capture application that Alaris had bundled with its previous generations of scanners. The full version of Info Input, a browser-based distributed application, is still available as an upgrade, as is Capture Pro software, a full-featured production application.
Alaris is in the early stages of launching the Managed Content Services program that we discussed with them last October. Based on a managed print services model, it’s designed to help users assess, optimize and manage their capture environments. “We’ve created the building blocks—the pieces of a tiered professional services offering, coupled with the technology, to enable our customers in their image capture applications,” said Van Zandt. “We have launched our MCS program in EMEA as a test region and are working to transition it into a viable business model.”
AI Foundry also continues to operate as the advanced capture solutions arm of Alaris. Utilizing a combination of Alaris and third-party technology, earlier this year AI Foundry explained to DIR that it was focused on the mortgage processing industry as its “Crossing the Chasm” strategy.
While AI Foundry sells directly to end users, Van Zandt stressed that the rest of Alaris is focused on increasing its business through reseller partners. “We have to support our channel and work together to make sure we are targeting significant business rationales,” he said. “We can’t try and be one size fits all.
“With my increased responsibilities, we’ve brought our product and marketing back together. We want to make it easy for our partners to do business with us and get the certifications and training they need, along with helping them with lead generation. We also want to work with them to create value they can compete with—instead of focusing on commodity-based pricing. If we do it right, both sides will benefit.”
“Our mission and vision statement is to deliver innovative solutions that utilize our image capture expertise to optimize business processes.” Chris Van Zandt Vice President, Marketing & Product Management, Alaris
The new Experience Room is designed to help with this value creation. It features multiple stations that can run Alaris scanners and software, as well as third-party software. “It is designed to handle all sorts of solutions-focused events,” said Paul Butterfield, senior portfolio marketing manager for Alaris. “We can do reseller training, and work with end customers and ISVs as well. There is also space for meeting with media [DIR’s Gammon had the privilege of being the first guest] and VIPs.
“It’s also going to be used for virtual [video] presentations. We’ve removed all the barriers you typically have with internal and external firewalls when trying to demo integration with third-party software. We are set up to be able to connect with any type of software—cloud or on premises.”
There are also features like tables that can be used as white boards and an adjacent conference room. The Experience Room is designed to be demo central for the next generation of document capture solutions.
Overall, our visit to Alaris showed us a company on the rise, not one being weighed down by declining revenue in the hardware market. Dating back to its Kodak DI roots, the management at Alaris has understood that capture is about more than producing quality images—although the company definitely has skills in that area. The solutions tack has always been the right focus, but getting there has been a circuitous path for hardware vendors like Alaris.
Alaris’ current partner focus—SIs, resellers and ISVs, seems to be the way to go. This way, Alaris can focus on its expertise—document capture, and help empower its partners to build out the solutions that get implemented in the market. Although paper use in business transactions is declining, the document capture market is growing [we’ll find out this week at the HSA Capture Conference exactly how much] and Alaris needs to focus on this wider swath.
We are glad that Kodak Alaris decided to remain in Rochester (there apparently was some talk of moving out of town before the lease at Rochester Technology Park was agreed on). It helps create stability as the company competes in a rapidly evolving market. Lofstrom, Van Zandt, and the rest of the executive management team at Alaris also has plenty of experience with the organization, which only adds to this stability. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Alaris as they help move forward with the latest generation of capture solutions.
Document Imaging Report (DIR), is the premier management and marketing newsletter on opportunities and trends in converting paper processes to electronic format. DIR is an 8-page newsletter produced twice monthly that helps you stay on top of critical developments in just minutes – saving you hours of reading and research every month. It is written for vendors, end users, and the distribution channel for the imaging industry. DIR provides the most accurate and unbiased inside information in the market and will keep you at the forefront of industry changes and advancements. To subscribe to the DIR, or for a free trial, please visit http://documentimagingreport.com/free-trial-sample-issue/