The Rise Of Networked Scanning

Business Solutions, September 2008

Written by: Vicki Amendola

The adoption of networked scanning is on the rise, and document imaging VARs should prepare to cash in on the opportunity.

Converting paper documents into digital data isn’t an earth-shattering phenomenon anymore. Instead, document imaging can finally claim a firm foothold as a proven strategy for VARs to use with customers struggling to improve operational efficiency and productivity, reduce administrative burdens and costs, and even achieve compliance with governmental regulations. The trend that continues to enfold the document scanner market is a migration that draws the technology from a centralized, backroom process to points much closer to document creation in distributed, or workgroup, scanning solutions.

Most analysts and research firms that cover the document imaging market agree that distributed scanning applications have become — and are predicted to remain — the dominating segment of the scanner market. Network scanners are a subcategory of this segment and, although not yet recognized as a stand-alone hardware segment, network scanning is showing significant growth year over year. A recent report from InfoTrends, a research firm that provides in-depth analysis of the document scanner market, supports the premise that network scanning is on the rise, making it fertile ground for imaging VARs. The group’s U.S. Document Imaging Scanner Survey Report: 2007 illustrates a 112% increase in network scanning use over the last three years, from a starting point of 16% in 2004 to 34% in 2007.

Now Is The Time To Sell Network-Enabled Hardware
Network scanning hardware has imaging specifications nearly identical to the dedicated scanner models found in the desktop or workgroup segments. However, the trend in imaging is bringing network connectivity into the mix, with additional network-capable scanner models being released each year. These scanners reside directly on a company’s network, rather than being attached to a dedicated PC. “Network scanning provides obvious advantages, such as those we’ve grown accustomed to with network-attached printers,” says Kevin Neal, product manager at Fujitsu.

Neal’s example of a networked printer highlights the ability for VARs to integrate a vital piece of productivity equipment directly into a customer’s network, enabling the device to be shared and accessed by multiple individuals as part of that network. Shared devices reduce the cost of the solution, a primary sales objection, by reducing the total number of devices needed. In addition, deploying fewer devices can lead to reduced maintenance requirements and can even help to land sales in cases where conserving valuable office space is a primary concern. “While networked printing has become commonplace and has become very beneficial as an efficient output device, this connectivity is now being leveraged to input information into a company’s computer systems via scanning/imaging technology,” says Neal.

For some companies, high-end digital copiers and MFPs (multifunction peripherals) have provided an introduction to the basic concept of network scanning. According to a recent IDC report, 1.54 million scan-enabled MFPs shipped in 2007. The trend has not gone unnoticed by the ISVs (independent software vendors) in the document imaging arena. Many ISVs have recognized these devices as another source of capture and, as the corporate office environment embraced the MFP, these ISVs developed solutions to capitalize on the opportunity.

Satisfy Ease Of Use And Security With Networked Scanners
Despite the applicability of the MFP as a networked scanner, it still can’t compete with a dedicated networked scanner in most cases where document imaging is the primary emphasis of a reseller’s solution. “Frequency, complexity, and larger scanning jobs tend to drive more dedicated scanning equipment for individuals or workgroups,” says John Capurso, VP of marketing at Visioneer. A dedicated network scanner eliminates the competition that can be experienced with an MFP-based solution, such as waiting for a large print job to finish before being able to scan a document to e-mail or file. In addition, despite all the advances being made on higher-end MFPs, a dedicated device can still be easier to use.

“Ease of use is a critical selling point for customers that have multiple users with different levels of technical expertise using the scanner,” says Jackie Horn, director of worldwide marketing at BÖWE BELL + HOWELL. “VARs are leveraging user-friendly touch screens and built-in features [such as one-button scanning] to make life easier for end users to simply walk up to the scanner and scan.” Many network scanners available today are incorporating much bigger touch screens than earlier models — some as large as 8 inches across — to promote ease of use. These larger screens provide a GUI (graphical user interface) on which the user can not only select scanning options, but also preview the scanned image and even enter basic indexing information.

Security is also a driving force behind the adoption of networked scanning, and it is occurring at both the device and document level. At the document creation level, network scanning is beginning to incorporate encryption capabilities to enable the creation of secure image files. For example, scanning to encrypted PDF can prevent unauthorized individuals from viewing the document. At the device level, user authentication can take many forms, including user password or even fingerprint and other biometric technologies. These options can satisfy access control by restricting device usage and can also provide audit trails by recording which authorized users have accessed the scanner and which company information was created or viewed on the device.

Networked Scanners Can Support ECM Solutions
Another trend in the network scanning market is the growing availability of SDKs (software development kits) that can be used to run customized document management systems right from the network scanner. “Although well-suited for ad hoc scanning, one-touch scan-to-job buttons on the network scanners enable VARs to establish dedicated buttons that can trigger specific workflow processes, delivering the combination of more scanning power and functionality with simpler operation,” says Michael Oliva, manager of product marketing, Canon USA. “Incorporating various connectors to third-party applications, such as SharePoint or RightFax, can simplify integration and enhance interface options between the network scanners and various document management systems.”

In some cases, network scanning has become a way for VARs to enhance existing document management systems or even form the nucleus of brand new ones. “VARs have the ability to bring the entire system architecture together: network scanner, connectivity, servers, ECM (enterprise content management) applications, workflow, access rights, and document life cycle,” says Visioneer’s Capurso. “And since every organization has different requirements, the opportunity is there to make all the components come together and function reliably.” Just as with distributed capture implementations, VARs should leverage network scanning to continue pushing the point of capture even closer to the point of document creation. Doing so will help customers realize the benefits of increased ease of use, increased information security, increased productivity and efficiency, and perhaps what is at the top of most customers’ minds today, reduced costs.

– See more at:

Fujitsu fi-5900C Mid-Volume Production Scanner

I was the proud, and extremely passionate, product marketing manager for the life cycle of the Fujitsu fi-5900C Mid-Volume Production (MVP) Scanner in the United States, Mexico and Latin America.  In the Mid-Volume Production Scanning segment Fujitsu had historically been #3 market share or often worst behind Kodak and Bell & Howell.

The truth of the matter is that I was lucky with timing, but it was also a lot of hard work, team effort and excellent execution of a plan and we eventually achieved #1 market share in MVP for the first time ever.  I proudly helped establish Fujitsu as a player, in fact, THE #1 player for years and when I left the company in 2011 we were still #1 in spite of Kodak acquiring Bell & Howell.

Below is a collection of image memories of the awesome fi-5900C which revolutionized the industry!

article_4 article_d1 5900_london_1 fi-5900C johnsondiversey Corry Publishing: BuxCo Domestic Relations for Quality Assoc. In

The Opportunity of Network Scanning for resellers

A question and answer session on the topic of Network Scanning:

Q. Is network scanning currently taking any particular market “by storm” when compared to other scanning options?

A. Network scanning is being embraced and deployed in a range of vertical markets. While there seems to be a healthy balance of markets deploying network scanners, we’re noticing that the traditional markets that have invested more in scanning and enterprise content management, like Healthcare, Finance, Accounting, Legal and Transportation, are also quicker to the draw when it comes to implementing network scanning solutions. This is simply because of the network infrastructure they already have in place. However, we’re still seeing a strong adoption rate across many vertical markets to assist in business process management securely in a controlled environment and to achieve improved efficiency.

Q. What new features and functionalities (if any) are being added to network scanners that make it an appealing option?

A. Some of the key features of network scanning devices that are making them so appealing are based on the “user experience”. True adoption of a technology begins to gain momentum when the actual users of technology enjoy the experience of using a particular product. In the case of network scanners specifically, users overwhelming comment that a large touch screen display makes them comfortable with using a device. The learning-curve is minimal with a bright touch screen display which encourages either additional usage by a particular person or encourages usage by additional persons in a departmental environment because there is no training involved. The user-friendly touch screen is complimented by a full 101-keyboard for additional ease of use. Users can simply scan images then enter an e-mail address and type other information in the subject or body of the e-mail message. In addition, software integration with back-end Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Line of Business (LOB) is certainly creating additional appeal for network scanners. Now, users and IT departments have the option to either use standard functionality such as Scan to Folder, Scan to Fax, Scan to Print or Scan to E-mail, but they also have the option to Scan, Index and Store directly to an ECM repository with the properly Add-In Module installed.

Q. Why would VARs want to offer network scanners as a part of a comprehensive ECM strategy? Please explain your answer.

A. VARs can absolutely capitalize on the explosive growth of the network scanner market. As part of an ECM strategy, a network scanner is just one piece of the solution, although a very important piece. The quality of the image is vital to other complimentary technical processes directly related to the electronic document. Capture techniques such as Bar Code Recognition, Searchable PDF creation or Optical Character Recognition (OCR) accuracy are either greatly enhanced or can possibly cause additional manual correction which is directly a cause and affect specific to image quality. Value-Added Resellers in the ECM market, in particular, understand the importance of the quality of a Dedicated Use Device such as a network scanner in comparison to other network scanning peripherals available in the market. Through a thorough understanding of the quality differences between dedicated scanning devices from other multifunction devices, a VAR in the ECM space has already set themselves apart from their competitors and they can leverage this expertise into the network scanner market. There are many appealing factors for VARs to offer network scanners as a part of a comprehensive ECM strategy. First, quality network scanners are easy to deploy. With a basic understanding of network concepts which involve things as straight-forward as knowing IP addresses or host names of servers, either the VAR or even end-customer themselves can have a network scanner up and running in literally minutes. Second, quality network scanners are easy to manage, maintain and update. Software utilities such as ‘Network Scanner Admin Tools’ allow authorized persons to access the network scanner remotely to view usage, update software or even change system configurations. With a traditional desktop scanning workstation this is not easily done or would require additional software of configuration. In short, network scanners are easy to deploy, simple to use and require very little maintenance.

Q. Is network scanning more suited to any particular market? Is it excluded from any particular market?

A. Anywhere paper exists is an opportunity for network scanning – there is no particular market that cannot benefit from this technology. Network scanning helps accelerate all the traditional benefits found in scanning and ECM solutions, including enhanced business processes by eliminating lost or misplaced documents, decreased costs by enabling quick business process because of minimal human labor involvement, increased revenue for certain vertical markets such as being able to take advantage of pre-pay discounts in an invoice processing application, improved environmental consciousness by eliminating paper and thus our reliance on trees.

Q. What are the specific advantages (and disadvantages) to selling network scanners?

A. Selling network scanners provides opportunities for VARs and System Integrators to engage their customers in a discussion about their business processes. Resellers should embrace this opportunity to work closely with the end-customer to identify areas to improve their overall business operation. By thoroughly evaluating and taking inventory of the customer’s existing network infrastructure it is very possible to find either missing components such as servers and server software that may be needed to enhance the system. In addition, there is a possibility to offer the customers either consulting or professional services in order to properly implement the right solution for their specific business. Selling network scanners should not be considered a “cut and run” business proposition. VARs that understand this will be extremely successful. One of the potential disadvantages involved is if your network scanner itself is difficult to configure then the labor costs of just getting the device communicating on the network could far outweigh the potential profit involved in a particular installation. Network scanners present a wide range of functionalities and options as compared to simple stand-alone scanners, therefore understanding the capabilities involves a well-rounded understanding of network concepts and not just document scanning and capture. Having a solid understanding of document capture as a foundation will serve those who wish to embrace network scanners

Q. What are some common pitfalls VARs run into when selling/implementing network scanners?

A. I think a common misconception among VARs is that since a network scanner is a complete solution there isn’t an opportunity for add-on sales. In other words, since a network scanning device includes embedded software with scanning functionality there is no computer to sell or capture software to install or configure. While this may sound like it’s limiting the VARs ability to maximize their sales opportunity, I think just the opposite is true if you approach opportunities the right way. A network scanner is typically being deployed as part of a solution these days. Although network scanners can be used in an ad-hoc fashion, most of these devices offer advanced scanning features and intelligent functionality from years of document scanning experience and are used for daily business activities. Therefore potential add-on sales could include an on-site service contract to ensure maximum uptime. Also, as an example, if the customers’ network currently lacks a network fax server or LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) authentication server then this would require additional investments in hardware, software and configuration.

Q. What are the most recent innovations in network scanning that VARs should be aware of? (In other words, what is different in the hardware – or market – compared to 12-18 months ago?).

A. There have been some significant innovations in the network scanning market over the past 12-18 months. This includes hardware innovation as well as software innovation. For starters, as some of the traditional leading document scanner vendors are starting to enter the network scanner market, they are bringing the technology and innovation that helped establish themselves as leaders in the first place. To illustrate some of the special software differences, I’ve include the Automatic Page Rotation feature where the scanner can flip the page to the right-side up direction. This particular feature is found in intelligent network scanners and will likely be missing from other simple network peripherals. Other advanced features include automatic color detection, where the scanner intelligently knows to save a particular scanned document in a black & white format to decrease file size or in color and automatic blank page deletion and automatic deskew and cropping to handle mixed size documents efficiently. With regard to hardware, some of the more advanced network scanner devices include an Ultrasonic Double-Feed Detection sensor to detect whenever two pages might accidentally be pulled into the document feeder at the same time and stop the scanning process for immediate correction. If capturing each page accurately is of critical importance then you can imagine how important this feature can be. Also, some network scanning devices have the capability to scan plastic cards directly through the automatic document feeder. This is extremely useful in certain vertical applications such as Hospital Admissions where ideally you would want one device in a reception area to capture paper documents as well as plastic identification cards and plastic insurance cards through one device in a small physical footprint.

Q. Are there any trends about network scanning you would like to share?

A. As I’ve mentioned in a few of the above questions, these dedicated use devices are loaded with intelligent and advanced features innovated from years of document scanning experience. I suspect that this trend will continue and most likely accelerate as the adoption of network scanners becomes more mainstream. Connectivity to third-party software systems will be possible with Software Developer’s Kits (SDK’s) and ease of use and manageability of these devices is appealing.

Fujitsu fi-6670 and fi-6770 Low-Volume Production Document Scanners

This was a presentation that I put together to introduce the Fujitsu fi-6670 and fi-6770 low-volume production document scanners.  I was very proud to represent these products as Product Manager and had the utmost confidence in the technology because of great engineering and fantastic support.  These are simply the best scanners in their class, bar-none.  With the introduction of these four new models Fujitsu was able to regain the #1 market share position in the LVP segment in North America.  It was a great accomplishment against very tough, and aggressive competition.

As with all my presentations I like to focus on the practical benefits of the technology and less on feeds and speeds.  These scanners can offer an amazing return on investment in terms of time savings to reduce labor costs associated with document imaging solutions.  As always please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Document Scanners in Healthcare (Assisting with HIPAA compliance)

I created a webinar presentation focused on how document scanners can assist with HIPAA compliance in Heatlhcare.  While scanners and capture software themselves can not be classified as automatically making Healthcare organizations officially “HIPAA-compliant”, with the ability to digitize and secure information, capture technology is a great step in the right direction.

Scanners contribute to HIPAA compliance (Flash animation)

Scanners contribute to HIPAA compliance (PDF animation)