According to the findings of The Future of Scanning study conducted by InfoTrends, scanning has transformed from a means to archive and store specific documents to a method for all knowledge workers to create digital files to interact, share,
communicate and manage.
“Scanning is a pervasive task across all businesses,” said Anne Valaitis, Director of InfoTrends’ Image Scanning Trends and Professional & Managed Print Services. “Knowledge and process workers have ramped up activity in the last few years, often driven by a need to be more efficient, streamlined and modernised. Software solutions that support scanning have developed into sophisticated middleware that provides connections to a host of back office and process platforms. Single function distributed and centralised scanners were once the purveyors of specific application and process work, but it is evident that there is a shift to devices such as MFDs as well as smartphones and tablets.”
As more processes are automated and paper processes are transformed into a more digitised state, InfoTrends suggests that the future of paper and scanning is changing. Simultaneously, mobility and mobile technology advancements are generating added opportunities to improve how content and paper are consumed and managed.
Tim Brosnihan, Product Manager at Canon Document Scanning Solutions, says that businesses today need to process customer information quickly and securely on a daily basis. “Recently, we have witnessed the growing trend of organisations moving document capture processes from the back office to customer-facing environments for reasons of speed, data accuracy and customer trust,” he said.
“High street banks, for example, need to validate their customers’ identity for approving loans, mortgages or new accounts. Previously, the service agent had to take the customer’s ID to the back office to capture it, which made many customers feel uncomfortable as they handed over confidential documents to staff, even for just a few minutes to make photocopies. Now, the same process is taking place at the service desk in front of the customer. This not only builds trust as no personal documents leave the eyes of the customer, but also enables staff to work with the customer to complete the data input and provide real-time feedback.”
Epson continues to see considerable growth in the scanner market, particularly for compact document scanners that fit easily onto desktops, as businesses look to capture documents at the point of receipt.
PFU highlights the 20-30 pages per minute segment as one where there is a great deal of opportunity as companies look to increase their productivity. It has just launched the SP Series to address this segment. “The SP Series helps to support a dedicated, single business function, such as scanning to an archive or in a small mailroom, backed by image processing capabilities typically found in enterprise solutions,” explained Sabine Holocher, Manager PR & Social Media, PFU (EMEA).
Salim Hasan, Product Manager for Brother UK, agrees that there is a huge opportunity for resellers to capitalise on the scanner market, which, according to Infosource, is growing by 15% year-on-year. “The rise in digitisation and agile working in particular are driving growth in the category. As more people choose to work from multiple locations, outside traditional nine to five office hours, employees need to work as productively on the road as they do in the office,” he said.
The role of the reseller
“As businesses attempt to become more efficient they soon realise their current technology and working processes are holding them back,” said Steve King, Development Manager of Business Scanners, Epson UK. “It’s resellers that give their customers the confidence to change that are reaping the rewards of these opportunities.”
He added: “Document scanning is an area that can provide broader insight into how a customer operates within their daily operations. It gives an opportunity for dealers to offer opinion, insight and advice on improving everyday efficiencies that can, collectively, make a real difference to productivity. Reception desks and branch offices in organisations with traditionally high print volumes, like legal, finance, insurance and government, can be fertile ground for resellers looking to develop long-term, margin-rich partnerships with their customers.”
Holocher highlights document-heavy sectors like accountancy, pharmacies and law practices as areas of great opportunity for channel partners. “Our partners are making great strides in unlocking these opportunities and, by the close of last year, worldwide sales of our professional Fujitsu fiSeries scanners exceeded the four million unit mark, making the fiSeries product line the bestselling professional document scanner range of all time,” she said.
Brother’s Hasan says that the channel still has an important role to play in educating the market. “Resellers can benefit from understanding trends and educating businesses on how scanners can support them. For example, lightweight portable scanners can be carried easily by agile workers on the move, allowing them to scan documents to the cloud, thereby enabling greater collaborative working,” he said.
He emphasises how important it is for resellers to improve their awareness of the applications of scanners within different industries. “For example, portable scanners are ideal for travelling salespeople and delivery drivers, as they can scan invoices and other documents while on the move. Whereas, a high-speed desktop scanner is better suited to an office environment, where there is a need to scan high volumes quickly,” he explained.
He added that Brother is continually updating its scanner portfolio to ensure products are in line with the changing needs of customers. “We’ve recently launched two new scanner ranges, the ADS and PDS series,” he said. “The ADS desktop series has some of the newest software on the market and is aimed at SME businesses. Our PDS range is specifically targeted at high volume users, such as those operating in the financial services, healthcare and legal sectors. We’ve identified these industries as huge growth areas, and our channel partners should also recognise this revenue potential.”
Holocher advises resellers to look beyond hardware to unlock opportunities. “The physical scanner is only the physical touch point of the digital ECM. Resellers should ask the right questions: What do you do with the documents once they are digitised? What are the requirements? Getting answers to these questions can kick-start your sales process.”
She added: “They should also look to how new technologies answer business trends like increased mobile and remote working and new easy-to-use capture solutions. Our portable ScanSnap iX100 document scanner, the lightest and fastest scanner to date in its class, takes business professionals to new levels of productivity and efficiency and enables users on-the-go to scan directly to mobile devices, while the ScanSnap SV600 brings contact-less scanning at the touch of a button and is the ideal solution when requirements include stapled documents, books or magazines.”
Brosnihan, too, says that resellers should make the most of the opportunity to look beyond hardware. “Resellers in the offie IT arena are in a prime position to consult their customers on the best solutions to meet the need for more effiient information management, which in turn helps to drive sales,” he said
He claims that ultra-compact desktop scanners that are able to capture passports and ID documents, such as the Canon imageFORMULA DR-C240, put resellers in a perfect position to help their customers understand the links between optimising workflow processes and minimising human error and improving customer service.