Document imaging is evolving from a nice-to-have to a must-have technology for many businesses and organizations. As people become used to doing business at the speed of e-transactions, their patience for traditional paper processes wears thin. Document imaging serves as the perfect bridge between the paper and electronic worlds.
Sure, many organizations would like to wave a magic wand and instantaneously eliminate all their paper in favor of e-business. However, as those of us who have been discussing “the paperless office” for more than 20 years know, there is a lot of inertia in most organizations and, in many cases, paper just won’t go away. As document-imaging technology continues to become more accessible, the market is riper than ever for adoption of imaging to make paper processes more efficient.
Following is a look at the top document-imaging trends for value-added resellers (VARs) to be aware of in 2016:
Adoption of cloud-based document-imaging technologies: Quality document-management solutions have been available on the cloud for years. But only recently has adoption really started to accelerate. Businesses are always going to be careful about storing mission-critical documents in a cloud environment, but as overall trust in cloud solutions increases, so does ECM adoption in the cloud. A recent Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) survey indicated that within the next four years, 75% of respondents were looking to adopt some form of ECM in the cloud, and 26% were already using cloud ECM. VARs have several options when choosing a cloud document-imaging software partner. One key feature for a VAR to look for in a product is being able to offer cloud and on-premise solutions with similar feature sets. This way, even if your customers aren’t ready to jump into the cloud today, they know they will have an upgrade path if/when they are ready..
More demand for mobile imaging capabilities: By 2017, research firm Gartner has predicted that Windows will be the third most popular operating system on computing devices shipped. This should give you an idea of the number of mobile devices that are being sold versus PCs and laptops—where Windows still dominates. To date, the integration of mobile devices and ECM has been fairly light. According to the aforementioned AIIM survey, only 10% of respondents had a successful BYOD (“bring your own device”) program running for content management, and 40% had no access to mobile content. There is no question that this has to change, and the integration of enterprise file sync and share systems with ECM, which we are seeing in the market, could be the driving force. There is also a lot of maturing mobile image-capture technology starting to show up that can be used to push distributed scanning applications to the next level.
Integration of documents into big data apps: Historically, many people have thought of big data apps as being used to aggregate data from a number of electronic sources, including line-of-business applications (ERP, CRM, etc.), the public Web, social media, machine logs, and sensors (think GPS info). However, more and more organizations are starting to realize that their documents also contain valuable data that can be mined and analyzed. The advent of new and more powerful automated document classification and extraction tools, and their deployment on the cloud, is making this type of big document integration into big data a possibility. Understanding documents and how to get relevant information from them can be your entreé into the fast-growing big data market.
Integration of ECM and MPS (managed print services): For years, many people in the MFP market discussed ECM as an integral part of the second-generation of MPS. Well, as many organizations have now optimized their printing processes, the next natural step is optimizing their electronic document processes—in other words, that second generation is here. MFP/MPS vendors like Lexmark, Canon, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, and Xerox are taking the lead and increasing the number of ECM solutions they are offering. Their offerings are trickling down to their reseller and dealer channels, many of which already have ECM initiatives of their own. As cloud ECM options continue to emerge and evolve, bundling SaaS (software as a service) ECM with monthly MPS payments and services becomes an attractive option for VARs and end users.
Those are some of the major document-imaging-related trends we expect to see in 2016. They all have one thing in common: they help make document imaging more accessible to the mid-market—the sweet spot for most VARs!