Technology Update

Smarsh unveils archiving product

May 27, 2012 @ 12:01 am

By Davis Janowski

Smarsh Inc. last week introduced a companion to its well-known e-mail-archiving service, used by many registered investment advisers and broker-dealers.

The web-content-archiving offering rounds out Smarsh's product line to provide a total archiving package.

Interestingly, the technology came out of a tiny startup, Perpetually LLC, which Smarsh recently acquired.

Although Smarsh founder and chief executive Stephen Marsh declined to discuss details of that deal, he and Darrell Silver, founder of Perpetually and head of the web-archiving group at Smarsh, spoke at length about how the new service works.

The technology proves intriguing for a number of reasons.

“Fundamentally, from the outside, we are "snapshotting' any website or web page, any URL you can put into a browser and get a view of, and we can re-create that going into the future,” Mr. Silver said.

This is very different from other methods that collect written content and feed it into a textual archive, he said.

“We crawl the full website and capture all the YouTube videos and the [rich Internet] technology stuff like Java,” Mr. Silver said.

NOT SCREEN SCRAPING

I asked Mr. Marsh and Mr. Silver how their technology differs from screen scraping, which pulls data off a page but doesn't get to what is happening behind that. Screen scraping is how most account aggregation services work.

“What we're doing could be likened more to site or server sucking — all the components underneath [the page] are pulled down into the archive; we can even capture outgoing conversations and things one degree of linking away, such as comments, for instance,” Mr. Marsh said.

Other content grabbed this way includes slide shows, Ajax, Javascript and Flash content, which gets time-stamped and stored in its native format.

Perhaps even more important, compliance officers and supervisors can do extensive full-text, historical searches within the archive and save those searches.

Pricing is in the neighborhood of $100 a month for a fairly typical financial adviser website that doesn't have a lot of interactive content. Prices rise with interactivity.

Scale earns a discount, so independent broker-dealers with hundreds of fairly static website pages to support will pay less in volume, Mr. Marshs said.

Interestingly, firms aren't being charged by the amount of storage they use, as is often the case at other archiving or storage facilities.

***

Document management technology firm Laserfiche has launched an application that dramatically extends the reach of advisers using iPads who also use the Laserfiche Avante document management system.

In a nutshell, think of Laserfiche Mobile for iPad as a free add-on for Avante.

The app follows the company's introduction of an iPhone application almost a year ago. Not just a mobile application on a larger screen, the iPad app actually taps the power of the device. which too many iPad apps don't.

Reading side-by-side documents, for instance, is much easier on the Retina display found in the latest version of the iPad. It is also easier to manage documents being added to an adviser's document archive.

“A lot of people are using iPads in the office; it's no longer just this tool they are using out in the field,” said Catherine Ramos, director of operations and product management at Laserfiche.

“Because of the larger, crisper view, you can choose to see a thumbnail of the document and have a better sense of what you are actually looking at,” she said.

Fieldwork is easier, too, and the Laserfiche application makes good use of the improved camera found in the latest version of the iPad.

For example, it can simplify an adviser's client intake and account-opening process during a meeting, which often begins with taking a picture of a client's driver's license.

Once a connection is available, the iPad provides secure SSL access to an adviser's Laserfiche repositories, which can include any kind of document, along with its metadata or audio-visual files.

And an adviser can create and upload electronic documents as well.

Advisers also can customize and set up their own views of their Laserfiche repositories through the application.

***

The 6,000 members of the Financial Planning Association who populate the organization's PlannerSearch database soon may be getting referrals in an unexpected way.

Retire Logix, a consumer retirement-planning app for Android devices, iPhones and iPads, is adding a button that will lead to planners.

Consumer users of the application will be able to search for a local adviser based on geographic information they provide. Leads, of course, will not be qualified.

The FPA and Finance Logix, the creator of Retire Logix, a division of Oltis Software LLC, announced the partnership last week.

Visit the online version of this story for links to additional content on all the products discussed.

djanowski@investmentnews.com or on Twitter @ddjanowski

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