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Digital transformation is big business

In order to thrive and survive in the DX economy, MPS vendors should be looking to build dedicated scanners and capture software into existing and new MPS engagements

The pace of change in the print industry continues to accelerate – print volumes are in decline, hardware is becoming commoditised and margins are shrinking.

Digital transformation presents a huge opportunity for the channel to enjoy business growth. IDC predicts that by the end of 2019, DX spending will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide, a 42 per cent increase from 2017. Quocirca also contends that continued print and digital convergence presents a significant opportunity for MPS providers to articulate a clear proposition around integrated paper and digital workflow services.

The time to act is now. In many organisations, the digitisation journey will have already begun – 62 per cent of respondents to the 2018 Gartner CIO Survey said they have a management initiative or transformation programme to make their business more digital. However, successful digital transformation begins with information capture and is reliant on utilising the right technologies.

Hassan Masaud, Product Manager, Brother UK says that the primary focus of consultation around MPS solutions is on the print needs of a business and how this impacts the efficiency and productivity of the organisation. “But, as businesses increasingly see the value in digitising paper documents, there is a real opportunity for partners to also consider how scan solutions may support their customers,” he said.

“Rather than focusing solely on print, work with customers to understand how they use documents – in both digital and paper format – throughout the business,” Masaud counselled, adding: “This will give a clear picture of their document management and processes and may open up new opportunities for resellers to sell scan solutions alongside MPS contracts, as well as ensure optimum efficiency for document management throughout the business.”

Leaving money on the table
Gerry Kelliher, General Manager, EMEA Region at Alaris, a Kodak Alaris business, argues that resellers are leaving money on the table by leaving scanners out of MPS deals.

“Over and above the opportunity for incremental revenue that standalone scanners and capture software offer the channel, MPS providers with customers using their MFPs to digitise documents could in fact be losing money,” he said.

“MPS customers typically lease hardware for a fixed monthly fee and pay per page for print-outs, however scanning volumes are not charged for on a cost per page basis,” Kelliher explained. “But maintaining the scanning component of an MFP is part and parcel of the resellers’ service support and the cost of handling scanner-related service calls and sending an engineer on-site to fix can very quickly add up,” he warned.

James Pittick, Director of B2B Indirect Sales, Canon UK, agrees that scanning solutions can also bring practical benefits for partners. “There is typically less service downtime as the end-user can replace scanner rollers themselves without a dedicated technician. Increased use of scanners also results in less wear and tear on the MFP units which lessens the need for technical support. All in all, this leads to cost and labour savings for the partner,” he said.

Kelliher acknowledges that MFPs offer scan functionality in addition to core print, copy and fax functions, but, he cautioned: “It’s not always a case of onesize-box-fits-all. Scanners and capture software solutions are designed to support digital transformation strategies and have the potential to address many print-related customer concerns including streamlining business processes, automating workflows and ensuring the security of information.”

He continued: “For example, MFPs and scanners have different features on saving scanned images – entry level MFPs offer basic send-to options, while others enable documents to be directly scanned into applications such as SharePoint. Alaris scanners come with standard drivers and software to integrate with Windows, MAC and LINUX environments, and as such offer direct integration with all leading document solutions, enabling the seamless execution of more complex workflows.”

Dedicated scanners
“Professional document scanners are manufactured with quality, efficiency and access requirements in mind,” said Brian Fortune, General Manager Sales at PFU (EMEA), adding: “This is exactly why traditional print resellers should introduce their customers to dedicated scanners.

“Firstly scanners are designed to handle documents that can quite often be in a poor state, whether they have been folded, posted, annotated, damaged or have become fragile due to general wear. A good quality scanner can manage this in mixed batches. Secondly, scanning is concerned with the content of the document rather than simply replicating an image. Document scanners are typically enabled with very advanced algorithms that ensure the automatic retrieval of data, which can be exported in different formats according to the user’s needs,” he explained.

“With businesses digitising processes to meet increasing demands, dedicated scanning solutions have become a significant element to enable automation and deep content capture that can help improve important processes,” Fortune concluded.

Improve returns
Pittick said: “Trends forecasts indicate that customers are actively looking to upgrade their current MPS systems. For example, a report from InfoTrends suggests 46 per cent of companies are planning on increasing their investments in scanning technology. Partners can greatly improve their returns in this area, while also fulfilling a key business need for customers at the same time.”

He continued: “By working collaboratively with customers, resellers can deliver a balanced solution which provides the customer with the most suitable product in the right location, using dedicated scanners where appropriate.

“In locations where size can restrict or rule-out an MFD solution, there could be an opportunity to install scanners instead. For example, in university on-boarding areas, where students are enrolled, an MFD might not be appropriate, but the requirement to capture information means a smaller scanner can work just as well. Resellers should look for similar scenarios, such as this, to fnd opportunities to promote dedicated scanners and capture software solutions,” Pittick added.

Automate paper intensive processes “Moreover,” Kelliher said: “While MFPs have basic capture and imaging options which can be sufficient for instances where scanned documents require little image enhancement, businesses with more complex workflows and those looking to automate manual tasks for increased efficiency, will benefit from the powerful capture, imaging and processing features associated with specialist capture software.”

Capture software helps businesses automate paper intensive business processes by transforming paper documents into critical business information. “The ability to extract critical data from documents and seamlessly feed it into existing business processes, helps make workflows more efficient and workers more productive. Individuals can run complex jobs with push-button ease, enhance data integrity and reduce the time and cost spent on document management,” Kelliher added.

With improving efficiency and productivity key objectives for organisations, Kelliher points out the downside for those businesses without a dedicated scanning device. “With an MFP, it takes time to scan in multiple pages – one at a time. In fact scanning a ten-page document on an MFP typically takes 67 seconds – that’s compared to just 17 seconds on a dedicated scanner such as the Kodak i3300 Scanner. And, whilst the device is tied up scanning, it prevents others that need to print or copy from working efficiently,” he said.

“Furthermore, Alaris’ new generation of scanning solutions support industry standard enterprise security protocols including HTTPS, WPA Enterprise and TLS Encryption for scanning over networks,” Kelliher explained.

“These models also offer the ability to pull document images and metadata into a transactional business process in a distributed environment at the point of transaction, which helps with securely attaching documents to business transactional systems and eliminates errors caused by batch processing. Moreover, scanned data is processed exclusively through volatile memory, which protects sensitive information by erasing image data when the device is turned off,” he concluded.