Data Dimensions helps businesses move files forward
JANESVILLE—“Once we're in, we spread like a bad rash.”
It's a crude analogy that the chief executive officer of Data Dimensions attributes to his vice president of sales.
But, CEO Jon Boumstein said, it's a fair representation of what's happening with an innovative new line of business that the Janesville company is using to bolster its remarkable growth.
Since 1982, Data Dimensions has specialized in document conversion. It has grown to become a leader in business process automation, helping customers streamline workflows by converting forms and hard copy documents into electronic documents through a variety of document capture services.
Recently, the company started working with customers who want to extract and transfer mountains of electronic data from aging content management systems.
For a variety of reasons, however, the customers can't move the information that's trapped in outdated, outmoded storage systems.
“There just weren't any migration solutions for old platforms,” said Tom Boser, president of Olim Technologies Group, the information technology consulting company he founded in 2003 and sold to Data Dimensions—his largest customer—in 2009.
“Companies have information that is trapped in their old system. It doesn't mean they can't access it or use it. They just can't move it to a new system and keep moving forward.”
Olim and Data Dimensions have developed a method of extracting information from aged document management systems and migrating it into Collybus, its enterprise content management system.
It involves complex forensic programming to extract the data and save it in a form that can be easily accessed. The Data Dimensions team developed a custom extraction application that makes automated migration of files possible, regardless of the proprietary database they're stored on.
To say it's complicated is a gross understatement.
Boser sums it up this way: “We write code that will replicate every keystroke, every dropdown menu, every task that someone would do to open the file on a daily basis, then have the program replicate that millions of times to extract the data and move it forward.”
Many companies actually use two storage systems: one for their old “legacy” data and one for current updates. With Data Dimension's forensic programming application, companies can move all their data into a single system—often cloud based—and streamline their operation.
Companies facing data migration issues face two problems, Boser said.
Because it can involve millions of documents, extraction is extremely expensive. Second, companies that developed the old systems often are reluctant to provide migration services because it means the old system will no longer be used.
Data Dimensions' automated solution solves both, Boser said, noting that his company has so far done custom extractions for major insurance and benefit administration companies.
“This solves real challenges for companies, and it's something we've had a lot of success with,” Boumstein said.
The data migration services are opening doors for Data Dimensions' traditional services and putting another tool in the box for the company's sales team.
“Some of the larger opportunities we're getting have not been for our base services,” Boumstein said. “This helps us move up the food chain.”
Many potential customers are companies that already have IT departments to provide the base services that Data Dimensions offers. If Data Dimensions can get in the door with its migration services, it often so impresses the customer that it signs on for the base services, Boumstein said.
“They see what we can do, how we work and hopefully stay with us,” he said.
The data migration services are the latest example of innovation that has fueled wild growth for the family-owned Data Dimensions, which now employs more than 800 people. The company also has experienced growth because of government contracts for processing and automating a mountainous backlog of medical records for the Veterans Administration.
In Janesville, Data Dimensions operates corporate offices, a records management center, a processing facility and a Tier III data center that opened in 2010. It also has two operations in the Milwaukee area and one in Clinton, Iowa.
Late last year, Data Dimensions opened a $6 million operations facility in Clinton, Iowa, that nearly doubled the size of its existing facility.
Between Jan. 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, the company added 350 people, which prompted recognition from Inc. magazine as the second-largest job creator in Wisconsin and 34th largest in the United States.
That growth isn't expected to end anytime soon.
“If you don't change and adapt and innovate, you die,” Boumstein said. “People always ask me what we're going to do next, and there are a lot of things we're toying with.
“What I can tell you is that in six months or a year, it won't likely be the same stuff we're doing now.”