Abbyy aims to process smart documents for business users

As an Executive Director at Abbyy Document Capture Systems Partner and Distributor for 15 years, Travis Spangler has observed the vendor’s evolution closely.

Spangler, director of sales and operations at User Friendly Consulting in Lawrence, Michigan, leads IT teams specializing in implementing and managing the latest Abbyy platform, Vantage, and other Abby products. Vantage is a low-code drag and drop system aimed at both commercial and non-technical users.

Abbyy started in 1989 as a supplier of language and dictionary software and has moved into the traditional optical character recognition software market. The seller, which was founded in Russia and is now based in Milpitas, California, has offices in 13 countries.

Over the past two decades, Abbyy has become one of the most recognized brands in the rapidly growing market for artificial intelligence-based intelligent document processing (IDP) technology that enables organizations to easily digitize complex physical and text documents such as invoices, driver’s licenses, and contracts.

“We kind of got along with their technology as it was developed,” Spangler said.

Abbyy first introduced Vantage in 2009 as the first cloud-native platform—with a suite of machine learning neural network-based features—and also introduced a SaaS version of the traditional FlexiCapture platform. The vendor released a major update for Vantage 2 in August 2021, along with the Abbyy Marketplace of prepackaged skills to automate document data mining and classification.

On June 8, the vendor released a new batch of production-ready skills including skills to extract data from bank statements, tax returns, paychecks and identity documents in 248 countries.

“We realized that the Salesforce-esque platform was missing from the IDP market,” Spangler said, referring to the CRM and CX giant’s broad ecosystem of software capabilities. “So when we saw this platform from Abby, we saw that not only is it a low-code and no-token SaaS offering, but you also have this whole market and the idea that partners like us can contribute.”

IDC analyst Neil Ward Dutton said that because of its long history, Abbyy can be described as an old player in the field of document capture and processing, but it has evolved and stayed abreast of technologies such as artificial intelligence.

They really put a lot of energy into updating and revolutionizing the platform. They worked hard to stay in the leading group.

Neil Ward DuttonAnalyst, IDC

“They really put a lot of energy into modernizing and revolutionizing the platform,” he said. “They worked hard to stay in the leading group.”

While younger startups have embraced new technologies such as natural language processing and computer vision powered by artificial intelligence from the start, they face challenges in scaling to meet the needs of larger companies. For companies like Abbey, the question is whether they can innovate fast enough, Ward Dutton said.

“Abby is doing really well, and they have a huge client base,” he said. “And if they can convert a meaningful percentage of that customer base into Vantage, that will keep their shareholders happy.”

Abbyy is a private property. Marlin Equity Partners became the largest shareholder with an investment in May 2021.

Abbyy competes with startups and new companies such as AntWorks, Edgeverve, Indico Data, and others, including software automation vendors such as Automation Anywhere, Hyperscience, and WorkFusion. Authorized vendors in the smart document processing market include Kofax, Parascript, Datamatics, IBM, Microsoft, and OpenText.

“There are specialists who do better in very special use cases, for example, contract analysis,” said Ward Dutton. “But when you’re looking for some kind of general-purpose solution, I think Abby does a really good job.”

Abbyy’s journey through the decades is a development her leadership is consciously aware of as the vendor appeals to the new class of data-less scientists, data-less engineers who increasingly fill the ranks of enterprise data workers.

Abbyy has also relied on its size and stature to offer stability to customers, along with technological innovation that largely keeps pace with the entry of young sellers into the market.

“One of the biggest market trends that we’ve been trying to exploit and absorb is this trend of democratization, the transition to low code, no code,” said Anthony Maxiola, Chief Innovation Officer.

He continued, “The market we’ve played in historically, the takeover market, could not be farther from low.” “All of our historic competitors, as we did, preferred flexibility over ease of use. Now business users, and knowledge workers themselves, who know the processes, can be empowered to start automating things themselves.”

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