But in the real world, it’s not that simple. Oftentimes, customers aren’t looking for a document imaging solution. Rather, they are looking for a solution to solve their customer-onboarding problem or their building-documentation issue. Sure, document imaging might be a part of that solution, but it needs to be integrated with other pieces of technology and processes that might be specific to a certain vertical market.
The ability to do these integrations and understand the processes is not trivial. It typically requires some sort of specialization on the part of a value-added reseller. At the outset, it may seem that specializing is narrowing your potential market, but in the long run, it will open up new business to you with organizations that are only comfortable talking with someone who speaks their language and understands their industry-specific problems. And these types of customers will often be willing to pay a premium for your services as vertically specialized document imaging systems typically create higher ROIs and more measurable paybacks.
So, which vertical should you focus on? Let’s take a look at some of the top ones:
For years, healthcare was among the fastest-growing document imaging verticals, as organizations sought to ramp up their electronic health records (EHR) programs in order to take advantage of financial incentives from the federal government. The market has slowed down somewhat in recent years as many healthcare providers have completed their move to first-generation EHR. That said, many healthcare organizations are still implementing imaging in order to improve financial processes. They also may be looking at imaging as part of a second-generation EHR system being implemented to help them reach Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements laid out by the federal government.
Horizontal Verticals: Accounts Payable (AP) and Human Resources (HR):
No, technically, these are not vertical markets, but they are paper-heavy horizontal practices that almost every organization deals with. Like vertical markets, addressing them requires certain process expertise and integration capabilities. Getting up to speed on AP and HR trends, language, and software integration can pay huge dividends. And oftentimes a win in one of these areas will be followed by expansion into the other one with the same customer.
This market is known for the high value of its transactions. In other words, paper related to processes like new account opening, customer service, money transfers, and insurance claims is worth a lot of money. As a result, it needs to be processed quickly, securely, and accurately, and document imaging is a key technology for achieving this. This is a mature market but also a large one where upgrades to existing systems are not uncommon due to competitive pressures.
Government entities are known for their paperwork, but initiatives like the Government Paperwork Elimination Act have the public sector moving toward paperless offices. (that is a link to Blog post #104 - probably needs to change after the blog is published)
Manufacturing and Construction:
Manufacturers and builders deal with a lot of HR and AP paperwork, as well as items like spec sheets, contracts, regulatory forms, and building plans. The advent of mobile technology has helped encourage adoption of electronic documents in the construction industry, where a lot of work is done in the field, while manufacturers are trying to improve efficiencies like everybody else.
For years, academia—despite a ton of paper related to student transcripts, applications, teacher credentialing, real estate, and more—was behind the curve when it came to adopting document imaging. But lately, as the technology has gone more mainstream and administration and IT at many educational entities have become younger, adoption has started to increase.
The legal market has utilized imaging for a long time, but a lot of it is more case-related than strategic. Scanning for discovery purposes is a popular application. A legal process typically involves creating searchable PDFs, which is not the most complex application, so the premiums might not be that great, but every legal entity uses imaging—so there is a wide market.
As document imaging continues to become more popular, users from almost every vertical are adopting it. You just need to find a few initial customers you can use as references and then start building your expertise around that area. Or you might pick a market you already have some familiarity with. Either way, once you can talk the talk of customers in your chosen market, integrate into their line-of-business applications, and guide them through image-based business process improvements that you learned while working with similar organizations, you should find your business in that vertical growing exponentially, as word-of-mouth recommendations by colleagues are often the most effective way to gain new business.