DDR Corp. is an owner and manager of value-oriented shopping centers concentrated in high barrier-to-entry markets with stable population and high growth potential. DDR is a self-administered and self-managed REIT operating as a fully integrated real estate company, and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol DDR. Additional information about the Company is available at www.ddr.com.
Kim Scharf is Vice President of IT Enterprise Services at DDR. Scharf noted that, “As a real estate company, our business is driven by documents. These documents represent agreements with our tenants, supplier contracts and various other business critical records. DDR needed to digitize these critical business documents for ease of access across the enterprise.” As such, they invested in the OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) suite of products including OpenText Content Server to serve as their records managed document repository.
The challenge that Scharf and her team faced was a significant number of documents in the system that were not OCR’d. This led to potential issues with performing full-text searches across the repository resulting in some of the documents not being returned in search results. These documents were image-only files such as PNG, TIF and image PDF documents with no recognizable text for the search index. Scharf explained “We recognized this as a potential technology liability which was impacting the credibility of the content management system and needed to be resolved as a priority.”
Christopher Barrett, Director of IT Enterprise Services for DDR, recalled: “We attempted to develop an in-house solution to resolve this problem in the past. However, we encountered several technical hurdles. Recently, we discovered a product from DocsCorp that offers direct integration between OpenText Content Server and DocsCorp’s contentCrawler OCR software. We contacted DocsCorp and put a proof of concept together.”
Barrett noted that the recent addition of OpenText Enterprise Connect was compounding the issue of non-OCR’d documents being contributed to OpenText Content Server. Document contributors would drag-and-drop documents directly into Content Server rather than contributing documents through the existing enterprise scanning solution which bypassed the OCR process. According to Barrett, “contentCrawler fixes the problem by OCR’ing documents on the back end – the document contributor does not have to do anything differently. Our goal was to not add complexity and disrupt our employees’ business processes. Fortunately, we were able to meet our goal and address the problem from a technology perspective with contentCrawler.”
Implementation of contentCrawler at DDR Corp. was fairly straightforward and quick. Within four weeks, the company had a “proof of concept” set up where contentCrawler was integrated with Content Server in a non-production environment. The production implementation took another month to complete.
Now that the initial install is complete, contentCrawler is combing through hundreds of thousands of legacy documents divided by year to avoid overloading the processors and inhibiting business productivity. New content added to Content Server is examined by contentCrawler to make sure it is OCR’d and text-searchable. For audit purposes, DDR must show that the OCR’d copy is a separate version, so a completely separate document is created.
DDR Corp. worked closely with DocsCorp technical support professionals to complete the successful installation of contentCrawler and integration with OpenText Content Server. Scharf and Barrett both commented that DocsCorp had fabulous technical and customer support. According to Scharf: “Working with DocsCorp, the spirit of partnership is definitely there. We appreciate when an external vendor recognizes and collaborates with our internal IT talent. Our experience with DocsCorp was refreshing and we are perfectly satisfied contentCrawler customers.”