After a few false starts, and probably an industry getting ahead of itself, document scanner hardware vendors and document capture software vendors finally seem to grasp the opportunity of network scanning. However, and certainly more importantly than the vendors themselves better understanding the significant trend towards network scanning, end-user customers are demanding these types of devices more than ever. The concept of ‘networking scanning’ blends appeal points that cross corporate departmental boundaries for the benefit of the organization.
- Users = Ease of use, intelligent scanning features, versatile functionality
- Business Managers = Improve business efficiency, higher worker productivity
- Network Administrators = Simplified deployment, effective device management
- Software Developers = Integrated solutions through a consistent user interface
In essence a network scanner has four main qualities that are fairly common among devices and each quality can be mapped directly to the appeal points highlighted above.
One, the device itself is a complete solution. In other words, a network scanner obviously includes a scanning engine. Also it includes other components and software that does not require the scanner be attached to a computer. A network scanner attaches directly to the network via a network cable and can be managed from a centralized location. As you can imagine this is quite appealing for Network Administrators.
• Decrease deployment costs with remote administration tools
• Reduce ongoing maintenance costs with ability to push updates to devices from a centralized location
• Utilize existing network resources and systems to conserve budget
• Inexpensive and user replaceable consumables
Two, an important distinction between traditional USB-attached document scanners and network scanners is that the users operate the network scanner via a touch screen interface instead of a mouse and keyboard. Using a network scanner requires little or no training which is helping drive quick adoption of the technology because it is not intimidating to use these devices. From a Users perspective scanning documents is no longer a tedious task and makes a network scanner appealing.
• No need to wait for the copy machine to become free for use
• Versatile functionality without compromise of added complexity
• Advanced scanning functions performed transparent to user
• Ability to preview images before sending to destinations
• Simple operation easy to understand
Third, versatile Main Menu functionality including general office functions such as scan to e-mail/folders/printers and fax makes sharing of scanned images simple and efficient for users. Additionally, Job Menu’s and Job Buttons can be configured to offer customized interface screens based on user login credentials and one-button scanning for commonly used job tasks. However, one of the most appealing points for Business Managers is the ability to offer ‘integrated’ scanning solutions directly from the touch screen interface. Let me be specific.
• Restrict access to only authorized users with secure authentication
• Highly secure login authentication and transmission protocols
• Programmable job function buttons can perform repetitive tasks with the touch of one button
• Lock-down job profiles to adhere to organization established
• Simple touch screen driven scanning operation eliminates
• Eliminate complexity and provide simply operation with large
This fourth main appeal point is also the reason why Software Developer’s are trending towards network scanning. While scanning to folders and e-mail is a nice feature of a network scanner, the ability to scan directly into your organizations Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application, add metadata/index values to scanned images to add to your Enterprise Content Management (ECM) repository or even provide sophisticated document capture like bar code recognition, document separation to kick-off a workflow process is of tremendous value to increase efficiency. Especially with all the attention of cloud computing and web services these days, network scanners offers savvy software developers a simplified platform to design highly effective and extremely functional applications, yet also benefit from simplified deployment and ease of use that these devices offer to users and network administrators.
• Direct connectivity to back-end systems
• Index values and metadata sent directly into Content Management repositories
• Database lookups for validation
• Image enable your Line of Business application
In summary, network scanning technology has matured to the point of being no longer being only for the trend-setting IT departments to deploy to their users. This technology has progressed to the point where near immediate return on investment can be tangibly achieved and there are many industry success stories to support these claims. When considering your distributed scanning strategy, network scanners should certainly be part of the conversation because the Trend toward Network Scanning is undeniable.
As always I appreciate the time you’ve spent to read this posting about ‘Trends towards Network Scanning’ and how considering this technology helps streamline efficiencies for the benefit of the entire organization and not just a single department or business unit. I welcome comments, feedback and/or constructive criticism. Please feel free to click ‘The SharePoint effect’ graphic below to read about one of the other trends witnessed in 2010 that changed the Document Capture landscape forever.