Web-Commerce: A COLD Application
Recognizing COLD (computer output to laser disk) as more than an imaging supplement can increase size and urgency of sales.
COLD (computer output to laser disk) software has historically been an afterthought for resellers of document imaging systems. "It's easier to get a reaction out of customers talking about imaging than it is talking about COLD," says Craig Laue, business development manager in marketing for Docubase Systems Office of America (Clearwater, FL). "Customers just have to look at their file cabinets overflowing with paper and an imaging solution comes to mind. Potential COLD documents, however, are typically stored on microfiche and kept somewhere out of sight."
E-commerce applications are giving new importance to these "out-of-sight" documents. "The desire for external access to COLD documents has created new demand for COLD software," says Brian Hajost, VP of marketing for TREEV (Herndon, VA). "For example, COLD systems can provide the substance for electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) and electronic statement presentment (ESP) applications." [Editor's note: Research firm The Killen Group (Palo Alto, CA) has predicted the EBPP and ESP markets to reach a combined $31.7 billion by 2005.]
Take COLD From The Back Room To The Web
COLD software manages reports created by mainframe software. "Historically, COLD has been a back room installation used by the accounts receivable and accounts payable departments," adds Hajost. "Applying COLD to e-commerce helps justify a COLD installation and increases its urgency. E-commerce can turn COLD into a customer service application."
TREEV and Docubase are both developers of integrated document management suites, including COLD. Hajost estimates that selling COLD as part of e-commerce applications can increase the number of seats in an installation 20 to 50 times. "Instead of selling a $20,000 to $50,000 module as part of an imaging system, resellers could be selling a $300,000 COLD system as part of an e-commerce application," says Hajost.
Laue explains that imaging resellers will need to change their approach if they want to sell large, e-commerce COLD solutions. "Traditionally, imaging software has been nothing but an application to pull through some hardware like a scanner and a jukebox," says Laue. "To successfully sell COLD for e-commerce applications, VARs need to approach COLD as an integral part of an e-commerce system, not as an assist for selling hardware."
Vendor Assist Is 75% Of Successful COLD App
Hajost and Laue agree that the selection of an experienced vendor is vital to successful large-scale COLD installations. "A lot of times, we'll see VARs go after big COLD applications but partner with vendors who have no experience in large installations," says Hajost. "The product might be alright, but in COLD installations the vendor is at least as important as the product."
Adds Laue, "We see a lot of VARs walk away from COLD installations because they don't understand them. Most VARs are not knowledgeable enough to manage a COLD installation on their own. In a document imaging installation, a vendor might only have a 25% to 30% involvement. In a COLD installation that level is about 75%."
Web Demands Fold Old COLD
Laue and Hajost also agree that the demands of e-commerce have made many current COLD installations obsolete. "Many COLD systems installed five years ago won't support today's e-commerce initiatives," said Hajost. "Older COLD systems were designed as inward facing, back office applications. They were not designed to be interfaced with Web applications."
"The biggest competition we have for COLD installations is still homegrown systems," adds Laue. "A lot of these systems work with hybrid print streams that are difficult to integrate with standard e-commerce applications. We've seen an increased demand to make COLD systems more standardized. To the dismay of many end users, this has meant completely scrapping their old systems."Questions about this article? E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.