One of the first tasks facing any document imaging specialist is the need to assess their customers and their business needs. What specifically does the customer want to achieve with document imaging? Are they seeking better security for documents? Is it about sharing data? Is regulatory compliance a concern? Organizations adopt document imaging for a variety of reasons and the role of the document imaging specialist is to address those needs and demonstrate how document imaging plays a larger role in enterprise content management (ECM) in the bargain.
ECM and document imaging continue to be a growth business. Estimates are that ECM sales will grow to $7.5 billion by 2016, and much of those sales dollars will be going into supporting new technologies such as mobile data capture and analytics. With the expanding value of document imaging, the role of the document imaging specialist
is expanding as well. He or she needs to be prepared to understand how emerging technologies and trends support ECM and promote opportunities for document imaging sales.When conducting a customer needs assessment, take these document imaging applications into consideration:
1. Archiving – For many organizations, document imaging is mostly a data archiving solution. Storing paper costs money. The actual cost of paper is only about 10 to 11 percent of the overall lifecycle cost of paper. If you consider the price of office real estate is between $20 and $30 per square foot, and the average file cabinet requires 15.7 feet, your file storage is paying a lot of rent. You can take the 22,000 sheets stored in the average lateral file drawer and digitize them to take almost no space on a file server or in a cloud archive. Digital files are also easier to search and retrieve than paper files. Determine if one of the motivators is to save space and make files easier to retrieve.
2. Sharing data – In addition to digital archiving, sharing digital files is cited as a common reason to install document imaging solutions. Digital collaboration has become commonplace and organizations often have to share paper-based documents, including specialized paperwork such as blueprints. If collaboration is a concern, then the document imaging specialist can recommend the right technology for the need.
3. Converting paper documents – For some customers, the challenge is converting paper to searchable digital content. Whether it’s legal records or medical files for electronic medical records (EMR) conversion, the document imaging specialist should be able to recommend the right scanning equipment and the right optical character recognition (OCR) software for the job.
4. Data security – Sensitive data can be secured more easily once it is converted to a digital format. Rather than having to lock up paper files and make sure they are protected from the ravages of fire, flood, and age, digital archives can be stored on tape or disk. They can also be locked away, or stored in the cloud for both security and easy access.
5. Access management – As part of security, determine if managing workflow, including secure access management, is part of the customer’s criteria. Unlike paper, it is easier to maintain electronic safeguards on digital files, using password protection and user rights management to control access to sensitive information. As part of access management the customer can maintain an audit trail.
6. Regulatory compliance – Highly regulated industries such as medicine and accounting are required to keep meticulous and secure records. Document imaging simplifies compliance by making it easier to convert paper documents into a secure and searchable archive. Paperwork can be organized using metatags and other digital tools, and content can be safely archived for retrieval in the event of an audit or for e-Discovery.
7. Analytics – Having digital information at hand means it can be analyzed. The advent of big data and the ability to use Hadoop to analyze both structured and unstructured data is proving invaluable for business. As big data continues to play a larger role in business operations, the ability to convert paper to into a format that can be included in analysis will become increasingly important. If big data is part of the customer’s ongoing strategy, the document imaging specialist should understand how imaging can support analytics.
8. Environmental concerns – Don’t underestimate the green factor. Many companies are under pressure from stockholders, the board of directors, and the community to become more concerned about pollution and the environment. Consider that 50 percent of business waste is composed of paper; paper accounts for 35 percent of landfill waste and 33 percent of municipal waste; and it takes 10 liters of water to make one sheet of paper. Eliminating paper waste and paper processes is a good public step to show environmental responsibility.
These are just eight common needs for document imaging customers. There are others. Your job as a document imaging specialist is to work with the customer, understand their current and planned business processes, and make the right recommendations when it comes to document imaging hardware and software. Document imaging is never a standalone solution so understanding how document imaging adds value in the larger infrastructure will help solidify the customer relationship and open future opportunities. Ingram Micro has created an assessment tool to help aid you in building a customer assessments. It is situated on a web based App and is easy to use as well as desktop, tablet, and smartphone friendly. Use it today: www.imconfigure.com and let us know what you think!