Opinion

Helping customers avoid information overload

 by Martyn Christian, CMO, Kofax

In today's modern world, information floods in to companies in a number of different forms.  Data from emails, invoices, purchase orders, and so on, all needs to be captured in order for a company to have a complete overview of transactions that have taken place.

With businesses looking to increase their productivity and do more with less, one option is to improve the way they manage the information that comes into the company.

Scan-to-archive software solutions have traditionally been seen as a one-dimensional process for archiving information, but scan-to-process tools can offer much more value back to the business.

For many businesses, capturing both the physical and digital data that comes into the building is a challenge. The old-fashioned method of filing and storing all physical documents, and maintaining electronic records as well, is becoming too cumbersome and costly.What is even harder is processing that information so that it can be sent to the right department, acted upon accordingly and in a timely fashion. This represents an opportunity for resellers to step in and educate customers about how they can improve their information management, and provide tools to help with their data capture requirements. 

One solution is to automate the processes that take place once the data is captured. For instance, when a document comes into the business and is scanned in, it can be automatically checked for keywords and then forwarded on to the relevant department, where it can be dealt with. For companies handling a lot of incoming information this can save time, effort and money.
 
There is clearly a market for capture-driven business process automation solutions. A recent piece of research conducted by industry body AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), found that 62 per cent of the companies surveyed had achieved return on investment, or better, in terms of productivity. 28 percent of respondents considered capture a "crucial component" in business processes and a further 36 percent considered it to be a "key enabler."

In addition, growth opportunities for capture-driven business process automation are strong: 23 percent of respondents did not have a formal mechanism for systematic scanning and capture, and a further 20 per cent were primarily using only scan-to-archive solutions. Among companies already using capture, considerable opportunities remain for capture enabling additional processes: 40 per cent had three or fewer processes capture enabled and only 55 percent used capture primarily for capture to process.

Channel partners wanting to specialise in this space can bring together data capture and enterprise content management (ECM) solutions from different vendors to create a document management programme that they can package up and offer to their customers.  Solutions such as scan-to-archive tools can be implemented along with the likes of IBM FileNet or Microsoft SharePoint to provide companies with a fully comprehensive solution for capturing information as it comes into the building and then managing that information in the most effective way.

Most customers will require additional help after the initial install, so there is another opportunity for resellers to provide an ongoing support programme that should bring in a decent revenue stream.  Some customers will choose to outsource the programme entirely to the reseller.

In terms of the end-users who require data capture solutions, there is no restriction to a particular vertical, so the customer-base is pretty expansive. Products do not tend to be aimed at specific markets so resellers that specialise in providing IT solutions to particular sectors can add value by offering customers their expertise in that area.

For example, local governments will have certain processes and document requirements that are unique to them, as will financial, manufacturing, insurance, legal, healthcare, and many other different types of organisations.

For resellers looking to get into this market it is a pretty safe bet. End-users that have ever increasing amounts of incoming data will soon realise they need to manage that data more efficiently so that it does not become information overload.

This was first published in December 2011

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