Times have changed. Ephesoft’s Enno Luekel provides a forward look into what 2016 offers MFP vendors and resellers in the document capture market.
While my world of document capture is no longer limited to MFPs, I am still very interested in how the technology and its approaches evolve in this very vibrant market. Looking back to the year 2002 when I sold my first decentralized capture solution, back with HPs Digital Sender 9100c, this was a pure niche market receiving little attention from anyone. In 2004, when HP launched their first MFPs (LaserJet 4100 and 9000 MFP) it was still tricky to convince people to scan using an MFP, but the times have rapidly changed.
Scanning and ECM belong together, as scanners are the synonym for digitizing paper based information. Since my background is decentralized capture and I have spent many years in the MFP industry, I was wondering how the potential of MFPs can be leveraged even more for digitizing documents than they have been so far.
Today there is no question that MFPs are used to scan documents. It is a given to scan to email, file or in many cases to applications like a CRM system — but what is the change? Currently, devices are becoming cleverer; developers of 3rd party applications have had good times in complementing the devices’ missing capabilities. Now these devices can meet most of the scanning requirements users may have; whether scanning to folders using DFS shares, Send to Email with encryption, scan to Microsoft SharePoint straight from the box (and since I mentioned “Box”) – cloud connectivity is also provided in many ways.
It used to be that MFP vendors and resellers could differentiate by offering “send to something“. This functionality is increasingly being replaced by solutions provided by manufacturers directly on a firmware level or the MPS follow-me-you-to-xyz solutions, making the known concepts for document scanning on MFPs a commodity. 3rd party MFP capture software is no longer a differentiation.
So what is next? First, I have to apologize for neglecting the batch capture sector of the market. Coming from high volume document capture, they focused early on in “automagic” document classification and the extraction of information from scanned documents. Frankly speaking, filling out a form on the panel of a device is not overly effective in comparison to sending a document to a system to take over the processing and handling of the document, to eventually routing it with all required information into an ECM or ERP system. The challenge for those vendors has always been to overlook what is required to work with the MFP community; such as providing a license model in line with how MFPs are sold, co-selling smaller deals, and last but not least, creating digestible solutions from a technical standpoint.
New in 2016 for Document Capture
Looking ahead to 2016, Ephesoft will advance this approach in the market, supporting resellers and vendors with tools complementing the devices’ out of the box capabilities, with products that automate document scanning. Ephesoft Transact, being an advanced enterprise capture application, can work in the background of an MFP interface, receiving documents simply by email and handling the processing. Because Ephesoft does not charge license fees for users, devices, or document volumes, it does not impact a tender offer like legacy solutions do. Further, by only using email, it can be easily combined with Managed Print Services (MPS) solutions for follow-me-you-to printing. The integration is simply done by email (no more issues with unsupported devices and multi-vendor support where needed out of the box).
Once a document is received Ephesoft Transact classifies the document to understand what it is: e.g. an invoice, contract or resume, and extracts the information from it. For those documents which cannot be automatically recognized, a user can log in and conveniently index in a web browser – which is much easier then browsing databases on a device panel and typing using a soft keyboard.
Using Ephesoft Transact, MFP resellers can take the next step in providing their customers with solutions for document capture with true automation. It will make the investment into modern MFPs more valuable, and helps resellers/vendors grow their business even more by offering business process services.
Vice President of Sales, EMEA and APAC
+49 170 571 8474