Twenty years ago, some experts thought that network scanning had the potential to revolutionize the document capture market. In theory, the idea of being able to eliminate scanner drivers and run a scanner similar to the way you’d run a networked printer sounded attractive. The reality, however, was that the first generation of network scanners may have been ahead of their time. According to our Infosource numbers, sales of dedicated network scanners peaked in 2016 at just over 2% of the document scanner market. Sales in 2019 were about half that.
Recently, we have begun to see the introduction of a second wave of network scanners. They do not fit under Infosource’s traditional definition, as, in addition to Ethernet and wi-fi options, they typically include a USB connection [to reflect this, Infosource is currently redoing its market segmentation]. Two examples are Fujitsu’s fi-7300 NX and Kodak Alaris’ INfuse series. The emerging TWAIN Direct standard is also designed to promote network scanning.
Unlike their predecessors, the current generation of network scanners are priced competitively with traditional USB connected scanners. In addition, as the market moves toward more cloud-based applications, utilizing network scanning makes even more sense in cases where a capture application isn’t sitting on a PC. To accommodate this, the new network scanners offer SDKs for integration with third-party software, which was also a feature of previous generation. The current SDKs, however, are designed to be more accommodating to cloudbased and mobile apps.
DIR recently caught up with Paul Szemplinski, Founder & CEO of Integrated Document Technologies (IDT), an ECMfocused systems integrator that has recently enjoyed success working with the Kodak Alaris INfuse system. INfuse leverages the Kodak S2000 series networkable scanners, which feature a “system on chip” architecture that enables them to connect to third-party capture applications. This is a similar design to a traditional network scanner. What’s different, however, is the INfuse Management Software, which offers a centralized and secure way to manage a distributed fleet of scanners [see DIR 10/18/19].
Szemplinski is also the president and CEO of CAPSYS, an ISV that develops a browser-based document capture application that it makes available hosted in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. IDT has also deployed the INfuse Management Software in Azure. “We’ve been having success with INfuse in a lot of different markets and use cases,” Szemplinski told . “This really speaks to its versatility. Our having a cloudbased capture solution that is deeply integrated with the INfuse system makes it easy for us to solve problems that would otherwise be challenging.”
Szemplinski noted that the ability of the INfuse system to provide a user with feedback if, for instance, a loan package is not complete, helps differentiate it from the competition. “We have figured out how to take advantage of some of the capabilities inherent in the system,” he said. “For example, the INfuse demos great. I am able to take a scanner to a customer site, along with a sheet with a QR code on it. When I capture the QR code, it directs the scanner to connect to our cloud service, which enables us to demo scanning to CAPSYS and then connecting to Hyland OnBase and SharePoint. So, basically, I walk in there with a brick, and within five minutes and I can wake it up and take the user’s documents and start scanning to a repository. This is when customers realize, ‘wait a minute, there’s no PC attached, no TWAIN driver, no application to configure, blah, blah, blah.’ This changes the nature of the game.”
In addition to CAPSYS, IDT recently created an integration to Kodak Alaris' INfuse to the Retarus Mail to Fax application. “Retarus is a global company with a messaging platform that includes inbound and outbound fax, as well as SMS, EDI and e-mail,” said Szemplinski. “They have a very strong channel, largely comprised of telecom companies, who sell bandwidth to businesses. Especially in markets like banking and healthcare, they’ll find that their clients are doing a lot of faxing, and Retarus offers a cloud-based alternative. “Retarus enables its customers to eliminate costs related to dedicated analog fax lines. To complement their service, we have put a dialer interface on the INfuse touchscreen. We are now acting as a Master VAR for Retarus and are providing their channel with a turnkey solution to present to their customers.”
The INfuse system accommodates this. In an industry with high turnover, it reduces training. The user just hits a button, drops in a piece of paper, and they're done. In this situation, CAPSYS Capture in the cloud is doing the heavy lifting. Paul Szemplinski Founder & CEO of Integrated Document Technologies
IDT is one of the resellers that Kodak Alaris worked with when it was designing the INfuse Solution. “Kodak Alaris really thought out the system well and did not just rush something to market,” Szemplinski said. “They came to their partners and we sat down and had discussions about how this should work. It was a collaborative effort and that collaboration continues.
“For example, we had a situation where a customer gave us feedback that the buttons on the UI were too small. They had mostly elderly clients who were not confident in the touchscreen selections they were making. We went to Kodak Alaris, and, in a testament to the agile development methods they are utilizing, within three weeks we had a fix. Then, we were able to deploy it through the Management System and we never had to go to the customer’s site.”
According to Szemplinski, INfuse is changing the way customers are viewing document capture. “IT departments are really not that interested in chasing down scanner issues or updating drivers,” he said. “That does not make for an exciting day for them. We have been doing a lot of scanner upgrades related to Windows 10. We warn our customers that when updating their OS, their current scanners might not work. As we are discussing a scanner refresh, we also bring up an alternative and show them the INfuse.
“We recently presented an INfuse system to a county government, which came up with the idea to make the scanners available directly to their constituents for applications like capturing tax documents. We set it up so that a user only needs to hit one button to initiate a process like capturing the documentation to apply for a real estate tax freeze. The county then had the idea to install INfuse devices in every department to handle the different processes they deal with. That speaks to the solution’s versatility.”
Szemplinski shared the example of another customer, a firm that distributes food on the East Coast. “As much as everyone talks about trying to go paperless, they are pummeled with paper forms, a lot being related to inspections that are done on site,” he said. “Also, drivers are delivering goods that have to be signed for. Ultimately, this paperwork is used to create debit and credit memos, and their goal is to get the paper into a process as quickly as possible to shorten their payment cycle.
“The INfuse system accommodates this. In an industry with high turnover, it reduces training. The user just hits a button, drops in a piece of paper, and they’re done. In this situation, CAPSYS Capture in the cloud is doing the heavy lifting.”
Szemplinski noted that Kodak Alaris’ limited terms of distribution, designed to protect resellers, have enabled IDT be to flexible with its pricing model. “The market is greenfield,” he said. “We have tried a number of different models and have been able to set the price based on the client situation. Some clients love the idea of a subscription that bundles hardware and cloud software. Others would rather buy the scanner and we can amortize the price over the length of their software contract.”
Szemplinski sees that days of PC-connected scanners as numbered. “Some users are concerned about security but Kodak Alaris’ dualchannel architecture addresses that,” he said. “The Management Software enables us to help users configure their applications and gives us insights into the health of their devices, but it doesn’t enable us to see any of the documents being captured. They go through a second channel, which can incorporate security methods like encryption. Other vendors are circling the wagons with their own network attached scanners.
Document Imaging Report (DIR), is the premier management and marketing newsletter on opportunities and trends in converting paper processes to electronic format -a key piece in a digital transformation strategy. Ralph Gammon has served as editor of the DIR since 1998 and took on publishing responsibilities in 2002. In 2017, Ralph joined the international market analysis firm infoSource as Americas Regional Manager. For more information on DIR: https://www.documentimagingreport.com/