The market for data capture solutions is growing with the demand for more digital information to power new business initiatives. Tablets and mobile devices are being adapted to data capture, and data capture information is becoming more important to business, which means it’s a more important part of enterprise data storage and cloud computing. Regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services are adopting new data capture solutions for compliance with HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other regulations. They also are extracting new types of data for strategic analytics. Wherever there is demand for new data to drive business processes, there is demand for data capture solutions.
ECM Solutions reports that the data capture market is expected to grow 12.3 percent between 2012 and 2016, reaching $7.5 billion. Much of that growth is going to be in specialized fields such as healthcare, government, financial services, and insurance – markets that are driven by paper processes that need to be converted to digital form. Other markets such as retail are developing new applications as well.
Supporting the Mobile Workforce
The mobility of office workers is driving new demand for data capture solutions. The market for bring-your-own-device is booming, and Gartner even predicts that by 2017 half of all employees will be using their own mobile devices for work.
Many of these devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are poor data entry systems but they are ideal photo imaging systems. Mobile devices will increasingly be used to capture and share paper documents. It’s already happening in the banking industry with the boom in mobile deposits by capturing check images and now mobile bill pay where bank customers use a photo of a bill to automatically transfer funds.
The mobile phenomenon is taking hold in vertical markets as well. Nearly 30 percent of retailers are already using mobile POS hardware, typically an iPad or some other handheld hardware. These devices are ideal for sharing captured images for inventory, stocking, and customer support as well as managing sales. Hospitals and doctors’ offices are using tablets to optimize patient care. In addition to accessing electronic health records (EHR), doctors can use the data capture capabilities built into the tablet to document patient symptoms and for virtual consultations with colleagues. Even financial services firms are starting to adopt mobile devices to scan loan documents.
All those scanned images need to be captured, processed, categorized, and archived for retrieval. EHR files, for example, need to be securely stored for HIPAA compliance, and they need to have metatags and other identifiers for secure patient identification. Many of those scanned images will need to be converted to searchable content using optical character recognition (OCR) so they can be searchable for analytics and eDiscovery.
Data Capture Moves to the Cloud
As data capture goes mobile demand for cloud storage increases. Storing documents and captured data in a cloud repository expedites mobile operations and immediately makes captured images accessible where it’s needed.
With the increase in demand for scanned images there is an increase for demand for data storage. Granted, data storage has become very cheap, less than a penny per byte, but the amount of data is growing at such a rapid rate, keeping pace is impractical and costly. The cloud is an elastic data storage resource with little or no startup costs that customers can continue to use as their needs grow.
Cloud-based data capture solutions are increasingly being offers as part of software-as-a-service, and smart resellers are brokering cloud space along with sales of data capture solutions.
Powering Big Data
Big data is becoming big business and big data projects are hungry for more data. Scanned documents, images and visual data are increasingly becoming part of big data analytics. In fact, IDC predicts that visual data discovery tools are growing 2.5 times faster than the rest of business intelligence.
Big data analytics demand unstructured data such as images and documents as well as structured SQL data to reveal new business insights. Big data is fueling sales of new data capture solutions to capture paper documents and images as part of big data analytics.
New Retail Data Capture Solutions
Retailers are struggling with their own POS data capture issues. Retailers and food service professionals are adopting new data capture systems to accommodate new forms of payment. In addition to the migration to EMV smart credit cards, the new retail systems have to accommodate alternative forms of payment such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal, and Square Register. These new forms of payment demand access to retail registers and new types of scanners.
Another trend that will impact data capture sales for retail is migration to open, cloud-based platforms. Traditionally, retail POS have been closed systems within the store with a cash register connected to a back-end system. With new payment services transactions are being stored using cloud services, and retailers are adopting open platforms to facilitate and track transactions. That means new merchant terminals that promote secure wireless access.
So what are the new opportunities for selling data capture solutions? Most of them are tied to new data sharing, cloud platforms, new strategies to capture and convert data for applications such as big data analysis, and alternative payment strategies. Talk to your customers about their emerging technology strategies and determine where data capture can help them harness new data sources.