As the printer industry struggles to compensate for declining page volumes, the input and output worlds are coming together, with multi-function peripherals (MFPs) acting as the centerpiece. As this trend would indicate, input is where the real growth is. So, while having an understanding of print applications might be helpful for a document imaging specialist, we’re going to focus on the growth side of the market and discuss how you can become a document imaging specialist focusing on input.
Following are some areas of expertise that you’ll need to develop:
- Scanning: Obviously, this is where the rubber hits the road. You need to know how to install and configure a scanner and utilize TWAIN or ISIS drivers to connect the scanner to a software application. Understanding the scanner functionality on MFPs can also be helpful.
- Capture: You need to know how to successfully utilize software to create usable images for your customers. The images must have consistent quality. There are typically controls in the scanning software and the drivers to help with that. The images also must be able to be organized in a useful fashion, through some sort of indexing system.
- OCR/ICR/IDR: These are automated recognition technologies that can be used to index documents to make them searchable. They can also be used to extract data for line-of-business systems in areas like accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and electronic medical records.
- Forms processing: This involves techniques for setting up automated data extraction processes. It can involve manually creating templates, as well as learn-by-example approaches.
- Workflow: This is probably the most important element you need to consider, as it involves the routes your customers’ documents take through their organizations. Being able to replicate these routes with document images can be a huge time-saver and can deliver enormous efficiency gains, often accounting for an ROI to justify a system installation.
- Viewing/mark-up: Oftentimes, users need to annotate, stamp, or even digitally sign documents. Being able to facilitate these processes digitally can create efficiencies and contribute to ROI.
- Storage: Electronic images have to be securely stored to protect against inadvertent deletion and unwanted access. But the storage also has to be fast and convenient enough so that users are not alienated and choose to circumvent the imaging system by using paper copies.
If you are looking to educate yourself in these areas, a good place to start is with vendors of the various products used to make up a document imaging system. They are more than happy to provide prospective resellers with educational materials, webinars, and training that might help encourage you to sell their products.
There are many products on the market that address various levels of customers based on size, vertical focus, and other needs. Try to fit your education focus with the types of customers you are likely to be working with. Then, go online and start searching for appropriate document imaging vendors. Once you start drilling down, reading some articles, and seeing some demos, before you know it, you will be on your way to becoming a document imaging specialist.