Tuesday, October 10, 2006

PDFs that talk

The ubiquitous PDF, we all use it, we all receive it for free when we buy a PC. With the purchasing of Macromedia, Adobe Systems, creators of the PDF format, have been able to embed more "intelligence" and multi-media capabilities into the once static PDF format.

Leveraging Macromedia technology, PDFs can now speak in the form of live video and audio incorporated within the document. Static diagrams embedded in PDFs can also be made more dynamic.

Adobe is also beginning to make its mark in financial services with its Adobe LiveCycle platform, which generates "intelligent" documents. As Anthony Giagnacovo, financial services, director, Adobe, explains, leveraging its ubiquitous PDF format, LiveCycle generates documents that contain a presentation layer (people to people), a business logic layer (people to machine)and an XML layer, which enables information contained in the PDF to be exported to ERP and CRM systems.

Adobe LiveCycle also includes bar coded forms, which means that even if people want to fax or print off information from a PDF, it can be easily re-entered into the system without manual re-keying by scanning the bar code.

Leveraging these capabilities Adobe is making forays into the trade finance space, which is arguably long overdue. Banks have been banging on about the lack of standards in terms of automating the purchase order and invoice in the trading process, and all along a solution has been staring them in the face; the PDF, which is on most people's desktop even a supplier in the outer reaches of China, for example.

In conjunction with e-document platform provider Tradocs, Adobe Systems has developed a Trade Services Utility Connector Suite which leverages all the intelligent document capabilities enshrined in LiveCycle. The Tradocs Connector Suite can convert any document to the "de-facto PDF standard" and then the information from the purchase order can be sent to SWIFT's Trade Services Utility (TSU) for matching and confirmation.

HSBC Bank has successfully piloted the Tradocs Connector Suite as part of its preparations for the going live of SWIFT's TSU, which is still in pilot phase. According to Adobe, the Tradocs Connector Suite, will enable banks to re-integrate themselves back into the corporate supply chain and open account trading between buyers and suppliers, by more readily capturing information from the purchase order and invoice, which are transmitted in PDF format and managed using LiveCycle, which is implemented on the bank's back-end.

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