Document Capture Industry Heads to the Cloud

The document scanning industry must embrace the cloud or be left behind according to industry insider Harvey Spencer.

Speaking to a large gathering of solution providers and scanner sellers at this year's Fujitsu Imaging Channel Conference in Monte Carlo, the man behind Harvey Spencer Associates - which has been analysing the document scanner industry for more than two decades - told delegates that they should "ride the wave" of changes to the way we all deal with paperwork according to thinq_.

Many people see the cloud as just another word for Software as a Service (SaaS), or a way of using the Internet as an almost unlimited storage and access space for digital assets - but Spencer claims it is much more.

"It empowers the individual knowledge worker or corporation to work more efficiently and with more resources wherever they are located," he said. It means that a company can free up some of the 80 per cent that IT is typically spending on maintenance to drive more innovation. "It means that systems can be more interactive and understanding of customers."

Mail room scanning, optical character recognition (OCR) in multiple languages, automated database integration, increased bandwidth and skyrocketing transportation costs have all paid their part in making a move to the cloud essential.

"The next wave is to move the understanding of paper documents - the meta-data, the contents of the documents - to the point of entry. The point of scanning. Companies need to jump onto this next wave which leverages cloud technologies before it buries them."

In the near future, according to Spencer, centralised mail-rooms in large corporations will use high-speed scanners; smaller outfits will use low-volume desktop scanners; and remote workers and road warriors will use mobile scanners - or even their smartphones - to get paper-based documents into the cloud.

"We are living in a faster and more complex global economy. Technology and the cloud bring some huge opportunities... but they also bring risk and change. We all need to embrace and ride the wave of these changes."