Document imaging is a broad market. At the highest level, it involves scanning paper documents and converting them to electronic information. Almost any organization in any market can benefit from this type of conversion—probably in multiple areas. That said, there is no such thing as a paperless office, because document imaging implementations require time and resources, and quite simply, scanning every piece of paper can’t be justified.
There are, however, several document imaging applications that have proved to be worth the investment in multiple organizations across multiple markets. These include invoice processing and HR onboarding. In specific verticals, document imaging has been deployed successfully for applications such as patient records management in healthcare, claims processing in insurance, customer onboarding and mortgage file management in financial services, transcript processing in education, and contract management in legal services.
These are just a few examples, but they all have one thing in common: They are mission-critical paper-intensive processes. That said, they are certainly not all alike. There are differences such as the workflows that documents must pass through, the data that must be captured from various forms, compliance and records retention requirements, and integration with line-of-business systems specific to certain industries or areas of business.
Being able to understand these specifics and effectively apply document imaging solutions related to them can make or break your imaging practice. In today’s market, offering general document imaging is not enough: You must also understand where it fits in a specific niche. Once you find this niche, you can position yourself as an expert in it—as someone that solves problems related to the niche rather than as just a purveyor of technology.
Why Finding a Niche Is Important
Transition from a technology provider to a solutions provider: Most end-users don’t care that you have a scanner that can capture 60 ppm and software that applies OCR to images. They want to know how you can solve their paper-centric business problems. Focusing on a niche will help you do this by giving you an inside-out understanding of the issues that customers in that niche are dealing with.
Gives you a targeted market: By focusing on a niche, you are narrowing your target market to either a vertical or a specific department (such as HR or accounts payable) within organizations. These groups typically have trade associations, websites, social media groups, and so on, that the members participate in. You can participate, too, and get your message out as to how document imaging can be used in their niche.
Peer group references: A potential buyer is typically more comfortable making an investment knowing that someone in a similar situation already has experienced good results. By focusing on a niche, you will develop a portfolio of similar customers that you can use for references. Often, these customers will even form their own support groups that you can participate in to get feedback.
Simplifies integration: Once you learn the capture, workflow, and third-party system requirements specific to your niche, being able to repeat them with similar customers will make your implementations more efficient. There will certainly be some customizations to fit each customer’s specific needs, but starting with an understanding of, and experience with, your customers’ forms requirements, for example, puts you a step ahead of the non-specialized competition.
Allows you get get more depth: Once you understand the basics of a certain niche, it will provide you with some leeway to delve deeper into it. You may notice that all your customers have a need in another area not necessarily specifically related to document imaging. This is a great way to expand your business. Or, once you’ve conquered one document imaging niche, you may choose to go after another one.