Adoption of cloud-based document-imaging technologies: This was never something that was going to occur overnight. Rather, it’s something that will continue to trend upward over time. Most estimates are that only 5 percent to 7 percent of the current Enterprise Content Management (ECM) install base is in the cloud, so when you hear market-leading vendors like DocuWare say they grew their cloud business by almost 25 percent last year, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. That said, cloud-based repositories certainly continue to trend upward, even while cloud-based capture applications, with a few exceptions, remain in their infancy.
More demand for mobile imaging capabilities: Mobile capture adoption continues to increase. Capture of checks has enabled this concept to cross the chasm, and we are now seeing increasing adoption in other areas like enrollment and identification. Smartphones continue to get smarter and more powerful, and we don’t see their use in any market, including document imaging, slowing down. In fact, expect mobile imaging to continue to increase, especially for ad hoc capture of one or two documents at a time.
Integration of documents into big data apps: There is still work being done in some specialized areas in order to bring these two technologies together, but, in many cases, it seems that getting big data under control by itself has been so challenging that combining it with document management hasn’t even been addressed. Big data probably needs to mature a bit before we start to see some real traction here.
Integration of ECM and MPS (managed print services): This one is on, in full force. Multi-function Printer (MFP) vendors are realizing that, in many cases, they’ve done all that they can do in order to make their customers’ printing operations more efficient. As a result, they are looking to move from managing paper workflows to managing electronic ones. MFP vendors are increasingly partnering with ECM hardware and software players in order to make this transition. The challenge they face, however, is that their understanding of printing processes does not always translate into being able to effectively deploy electronic workflows. There are plenty of opportunities for resellers to partner with MFP vendors and dealers and/or potentially be acquired by them. Ingram Micro is launching their new Managed Print Complete program. This is one area in how document imaging and managed print services combine forces.
Mid-market adoption of imaging on the rise: One of the underlying themes to all of the trends we predicted for 2016 was increased mid-market adoption. And, while some higher-end ECM independent software vendors have struggled with growth recently, the mid-market appears to be healthy, with vendors like DocuWare, M-Files, and Hyland all reporting strong growth in 2015 with momentum carrying into 2016. This is certainly a good sign for value-added resellers, as document imaging continues its evolution from a specialized technology deployed only in certain industries to something everyone wants to take advantage of in order to improve their processes.
Improvements in OCR (optical character recognition) applications: One trend we didn’t go over at the beginning of the year, but which is asserting itself in 2016, is continued improvement in automated data capture technology. Invoice processing, for example, has been historically targeted primarily at accounts payable operations with at least a half-million documents per year. Today, it continues to move downstream, and now, thanks to cloud deployments and pay-as-you-go pricing models, it is an option for most mid-market businesses. Technologies like auto-classification, natural language processing, and semantic understanding also continue to make inroads into the market, and while their killer apps are still being determined, they have proven to be a competitive advantage for some early adopters in markets like financial services.
We hope your embrace of these trends has you off to a strong first half in 2016!