Exclusive Interview: Jack Berlin, President at Accusoft

Can you please give some background into who you are, and what Accusoft does?

We started 23 years ago as Pegasus Imaging, reselling image compression and decompression toolkits and image compression technology. Pretty soon we were a top commercial supplier of our own JPEG compression technology to customers like Kodak, Canon and Nikon, and out of the companies who were in that market at the time, we are the only one still going, with a couple dozen patents in our portfolio and new patents coming every year. We grew organically, through expansion to new markets like medical imaging, and through acquisitions. We remain a leader in JPEG compression, but we have evolved into a leading supplier of other technologies and applications, especially forms processing development toolkits and enterprise-grade HTML5 viewing technology.

What was the driving force behind starting Accusoft?

Digital imaging was taking off at the time, but the storage and network infrastructure and processors of the time weren’t sufficient to handle display and transmission of these huge image files that were being generated. We saw a need in the marketplace for technology that would make digital imaging applications practical over networks, and jumped on it.

How do you feel the cloud has impacted the imaging technology industry?

Image compression and cloud delivery go together. You build an architecture that relies on current broadband speeds and where everything has to be performant through 4G or even 3G for mobile, and your biggest problem is images, plus documents containing images, because they’re the biggest content files you’re downloading to client devices. That’s why advanced image compression is so critical to cloud deployment. With 8- and 10- and 13-megapixel cameras all over the place and retina displays, user expectations for image quality have gotten very high, but the files are huge. Medical images are getting bigger by the day. You can only meet the joint requirements of displaying high-res images and keeping up performance from cloud servers through very, very good image compression technology or through HTML5 viewing technology that replaces PDFs and other image-rich document formats with compact, high-fidelity viewing files. And we do both of those things, so the cloud is pretty good for us.

In your opinion, which do you feel was more significant – the shift to mobile or the shift to cloud?

I’m not sure you can break them out like that—they each drive the other, it’s really just one shift. A demand for mobile access, whether it’s a business requirement or an end-user demand, makes a cloud model a more efficient choice, when everything is distributed anyway and content delivery performance is the critical measure. The shift to mobile is pushing the move to cloud, and companies moving to the cloud for other primary reasons are upping their mobile quotient as a by-product. As for which is more significant… The move to cloud computing affects IT departments, webdevs and software companies. The move to mobile affects everybody in the world.

Over the years, Accusoft has made a number of strategic acquisitions and won a number of awards. Where do you see Accusoft going in 5-10 years?

In five to ten years, every company in the world is going to be using HTML5 viewing technology to some degree. There’s simply no better way to address security, performance, mobile access and other document delivery challenges reliably and affordably in a way that’s platform-agnostic, which is essential. We are well on our way to becoming to the top provider of that technology, and that’s where we’ll be. We’ll also continue to innovate in compression and other technologies, and perhaps to grow through acquisitions, although I should note that one of the reasons Accusoft is still around after 23 years while most other small ISVs have failed is that we follow a conservative business model. We operate in the black, with no venture capital, and that keeps us strong through those inevitable lean times when overleveraged companies tend to collapse under their own debt.

With the industry becoming increasingly crowded, what sets Accusoft apart?

In a word, technology. We’re a small company, we can’t get away with putting out substandard products and glossing them over with ten-million dollars in marketing. We have to have the best technology to compete. Accusoft was founded by scientists, and scientists still drive our roadmap and develop and refine our patented image compression and other advanced technologies. For our first 20 years we were almost a pure-technology company with a customer base of developers and imaging hardware manufacturers. We’ve had a lot of success that way, but that’s not the future. The future is continuing to innovate in our proprietary technology while bundling it into applications that help companies solve immediate business challenges quickly, with minimal cost and effort.

With cloud security once again on the forefront of everyone’s mind, what are your thoughts on the challenges enterprises are facing with cloud security?

Cloud security should be on everyone’s mind, it’s a mess, and I’m not sure anybody has the solution yet, for the big picture. Encryption helps, lots of things help, but there’s still nothing out there that makes anybody bulletproof, and we’re going to keep reading about companies who left open holes for intruders. Hacks are with us for good, just like bank robberies. But at the content delivery level, there’s a lot companies can do to reduce their exposure, and most haven’t even started. HTML5 viewing technology enables companies to deliver documents from the cloud to user devices, encrypted in transit, without making the source document file available to the user for copy or download—the original file never has to leave the firewall, it’s never stored on the client. That’s a huge step forward in cloud security, and far safer than putting documents out on commercial cloud storage systems and trusting them with your encryption keys. It doesn’t solve the cloud security problem, on the whole. But it makes sharing and collaboration on document and image files secure, and that’s one big hole plugged, at least you don’t have to worry about that anymore.