Friday, July 09, 2004

Distributed vs. ad hoc scanning

Just got off the phone with ScanSoft senior VP and marketing whiz Robert Weideman. We discussed several topics including ScanSoft's PDF efforts as well as distributed capture. Both topics are obviously related as document imaaging moves closer to the front office from its back-office roots. We'll cover some of the PDF stuff in the next issue of DIR. I'll also cover some distributed stuff in the Sept. issue of Transform.

However, as I typically don't quote vendors in the Transform article, I'll give you some ideas of what Weideman said about distributed capture. He views ad hoc distributed capture as a very hot market, even moreso for ScanSoft than using distributed capture to feed a traditional ECM system. This ad hoc scanning, (my term, not his) involves scanning documents to make their distribution easier in an office environment, not to feed an ECM process or system. He gave the example of bringing back competitive marketing materials from a trade show (maybe on Capio? in ScanSoft's case) and distributed them through the intranet or e-mail instead of making paper copies and passing them around.

This is a nice story and Rich Medina of Doculabs on a recent Transform Webinar also indicated this was a growing market. I'm hoping to talk with a ScanSoft customer who does this for the upcoming Transform article. The only issue I have with this space is the difficulty in proving a hard ROI in today's ROI-driven times. BPM is traditionally the big ROI driver in document imaging and ad hoc processes are more difficult to define under traditional BPM models. However, as BPM continues to grow out of its workflow roots [see DIR 7/2/04 - contact me if you don't have a copy:] for details on this, ad hoc processes are being eveloped.

They key to this growth of ad hoc imaging, according to Weideman is the scan-enablement of digital copiers. The way workgroup scanners have been flying into the market - with more then 100% growth last year-- we assume quite a few of them are also being used for this type application. Yes, down and dirty scanning is on the way.



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