Scanning for business

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As document management becomes a core IT issue for businesses, document scanners are increasingly taking their place at the heart of day-to-day office processes. Ben Coles-Porter, Product Marketing, Canon Europe, looks at why this often ignored piece of office equipment is becoming so important, and outlines why he sees them offering potential revenue streams for resellers.

Technology has transformed the workplace, bringing with it as many new challenges as opportunities. The introduction of email and Internet access into most offices, led to a belief that the paperless office was upon us. However today, in most workplaces, more paper than ever is being used because the electronic revolution has resulted in more information circulating around the office. From this, a new challenge has emerged. Although more and more businesses are automating processes such as supply chain management, workflow and CRM systems, there is still a need for hardcopy documents such as forms, invoices, vouchers and contracts. This data has to be captured and fed into back-end systems, which is particularly pertinent for form processing, workflow systems and content management; not to mention the fact that there is an increasing trend towards electronic archiving and retrieval. As a result the need for scanning has become crucial and IT Resellers cannot afford to ignore this area. This has become such a commonplace issue, to the point where scanners are now part of an organisations IT strategy, that to pass up on this opportunity is to miss out.

The need to comply with professional, national and even European regulations means that these important tools [document scanners] have to be seen as part of the organisations overall IT strategy.

See the opportunity
To back-up how much document scanners are becoming a crucial addition to the workplace; and an important consideration for IT decision-makers when making purchases, the work group, or desktop scanning, sector has seen massive growth. In 2004 alone, 80,450 work group scanners were shipped across Europe, which is a growth of 108 per cent over 2003. But it doesnt stop there, as this market will continue to growanalysts are already forecasting the market to maintain a growth rate of 9 per cent year-on-year. One analyst house has even stated that this market has grown beyond their forecasts by over 20 per cent. The opportunity for IT resellers, particularly those who can identify and react to the issues faced by todays IT managers, is easy to see.

What also makes workgroup scanners so appealing to businesses is that they combine cost-efficiency and speed, without loss of image quality.

Document management solutions, and the scanners that sit at their heart, are already a boardroom issue. The need to comply with professional, national and even European regulations means that these important tools have to be seen as part of the organisations overall IT strategy. To support the IT managers needs and comfortably integrate with their IT strategy, products need to be fully-flexible, and to deliver this more and more software vendors are now offering applications as part of the product package, of which there are now a wide variety available. Adobe Acrobat now comes as standard, which means that documents can be converted straight into a PDF as soon as they have been scanned. In addition, the OEMs themselves are also taking application development one step further. If a company wants a bespoke solution, then a good vendor will have a software developers programme in place that enables the reseller to provide their customer with what they want. This is a particularly pertinent point when it comes to document scanners, as a customer may want documents to be stored in a specific format or include functionalities that work with existing business processes without having to enforce any changes across the whole organisation.

Rapid growth in workgroup scanning
What also makes workgroup scanners so appealing to businesses is that they combine cost-efficiency and speed, without loss of image quality. They can also fit on the users desk easily and save valuable space due to a small footprint. According to Infosource, it is quite normal today to purchase such a product, that offers an output of up to 25 pages per minute, for under 1600. This puts paid to the myth that scanning is an expensive luxury, especially when a range of functionality come as standard such as duplex, colour scanning, scan to PDF and 3D colour correction. When it comes to picture resolution, these devices are of the same standard as a high-end scanner, proving that quality does not have to cost the earth.

For resellers, workgroup scanning is such a fast-growing area that it provides a wealth of opportunity. With more and more organisations putting scanning on the boardroom agenda, there is already an identifiable new revenue stream for resellers. Couple this with the fact that many OEMs have already put software developers programmes in place, its certain that there has never been a better time get scanning for business.




Based at Canon Europes strategy centre in the UK, Ben Coles-Porter is responsible for the pan-European marketing and management of Canons document scanners. He has recently co-ordinated the pan-European launch of the DR-2580C and DR-2050C work group segment products across 13 countries.

 

 

References
1,2 InfosourceEuropean high-speed document scanner report.

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