Capture Beyond the MFP: The Convergence of Mobile, Automation, and Conversion

by Rod Hughes, Nuance Communications

Looking back on the early days of document capture, scanning documents primarily existed for archival purposes and the fax machine was the main tool for sharing images. Fast forward to today and a young employee – who depends on multifunction printers and smartphones to get a job done as efficiently as possible – could not fathom the simplicity of document imaging technology back then.

The workplace has evolved over the years, driven by innovations in business technology, flattening organizational structures, and changing team dynamics. People and information are constantly in transit. The value of documents depends on much more than storage and retrieval – with documents measured on how they enhance collaborative work streams. And the nature of scanned documents themselves has changed, transformed from static content to dynamic digital information.

In an era of convergence, how can dealers continue to add increased value to their capture customers by helping them gain control of their information and foster collaboration?

Scanners in Our Pocket

All of us carry a lightweight mobile capture device at all times, which also happens to let us call a family member or hail an Uber ride. At the very least, mobile capture solutions need to allow for taking high-quality pictures of a document, receipt, or invoice, as well as process native electronic documents. Going a step further with advanced features like fillable forms, e-signatures or even the metadata that tags an image instantly is an important opportunity for the channel, and something all dealers should have in their toolkits.

Mobile scanning certainly will not replace scanners or MFPs as a primary capture device method, but it makes sense for ad hoc situations, like capturing a receipt for an expense report while out of the office. The key to selling mobile capture is the same as selling traditional capture: a convenient, value-add step for end users that makes them more productive.

Integrating With Workflows

The changing nature of work presents new challenges to organizations, but at the same time, it opens many doors for channel partners beyond traditional hardware sales. Whether employees work from home or are in the field, it’s evident that people want to get their jobs done quicker and easier – and the channel must respond with solutions that boost productivity.

Consider the broader definition of capture: we must not only view it as a paper archiving process, but rather the strategic compilation of content that has some kind of business purpose. Because 80 percent of content coming into an enterprise is unstructured (e.g., email, text messaging, etc.), it has become increasingly difficult to organize and securely store information.

That’s where capture comes in: to integrate with and simplify business processes and workflows in order to increase efficiency well beyond just digital storage. Artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology can do much more than simply read through an invoice to extract a piece of information, like a PO number. Nowadays, you can actually query into your business systems and it can flag any account issues or variances at the same time it’s putting in the PO number.

Helping customers dive deeper into knowledge management will not only save time for their employees who previously had to read through documents, but also reduce manual errors associated with non-automated workflows.

Conversion and Editing

Capture software is also important for converting documents to another format without having to re-create it from scratch. Employees simply don’t have time to retype documents or edit images that did not scan properly, and having these files in a useable format is critical to what they do. Provide customers with an end-to-end capture solution that makes it easy to convert, edit, and share documents from any location – and then back again.

PDF (Portable Document Format) is the standard format for business document collaboration. Yet, most business professionals lack adequate tools to enable true productivity and teamwork. Including desktop PDF software as part of your capture solution can help your customers eliminate document format-dependency bottlenecks that hinder their workflows and slow down business. Their team will be able to scan paper or convert electronic documents into searchable, editable PDF files, allowing markups and comments while retaining secure control over the original.

Have the ROI Discussion Now

At the end of the day, automating workflows via advanced capture solutions will help customers gain significant business benefits. The dealer’s role in all of this is to determine which step in the document imaging evolution the customer is at currently. Are they simply trying to control costs? Are they starting to just manage the scanner? Embark on ROI discussions now to help the customer in the long run.

When discussing the benefits of capture in terms of mobility, automated workflows, and document conversion, remind your customers that the main reason they should have a capture workflow is to always ensure reliable processes. Additionally, they can increase the efficiency of that business process. Their scanned documents may already be going to their proper repositories, but streamlining the process with converging technologies will result in less time wasted for the end-user and fewer headaches for the IT department. And once you present those perks to your customers, their business, as well as yours, will thrive.

Contributor: Rod Hughes
Nuance Communications

This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of The Imaging Channel.