Document And Imaging Management Software Is Becoming Easier To Use
Major changes are occurring in document imaging technology, such as integrated suites of workflow, COLD and document imaging systems and on-demand visual archiving. VARs will have to change with these advances.
Many changes are taking place in the document imaging arena. To learn what they are, Business Systems Magazine spoke to representatives of two vendors. Brian Hajost is senior v.p. of marketing for Network Imaging Corp., a 250-person company based in Herndon, VA. Network Imaging, which had gross sales of $25 million last year, is a developer of software for document management, COLD, and workflow applications. Network Imaging caters to large enterprises. Lori Frank is CEO of Imaging Institute, Inc., a Minneapolis-based, 11-person vendor of imaging systems.
Her company concentrates on small- to mid-sized firms, such as banks with under $750 million in assets or law firms with fewer than 75 attorneys.
Document Imaging Technology Is Changing
Because the two deal with different-sized clients, their perspectives are somewhat different. Both agree emphatically, however, that document and imaging management applications are responding to the needs of the marketplace. Document imaging technology is becoming more user-friendly. Frank points out that, while there are many good imaging systems available to smaller firms, they tend to be too complex. Since, with the economy in high gear, it's difficult to attract employees who are trained in document imaging technology, the systems have to be easy to use. Frank's company's product, EzView Vault, for example, is self-installable and operates much like an office copier. Users simply scan documents and the documents are instantly duplicated on a CD-ROM disk, which can be updated as desired.
For his part, Hajost believes that, in future, IS support staffers within large enterprises will be able to install 'shrink-wrapped solutions' themselves. They won't need VARs or systems integrators to do it for them. His company, Network Imaging, produces the TREEV family of products. TREEV is an integrated suite of workflow, COLD (Computer Output to Laser Disk), and document management systems. The suite is available to enterprises as a ‘shrink wrapped' customizable package or as a fully customized one.
Keeping Up With The Changes - Frank's View
When queried about what VARs and systems integrators should be doing to keep up with the coming changes in document imaging technology, the vendors responded according to their markets. Frank, whose company deals with mid-sized firms, had the following observations. She believes that, in the past, too many VARs failed to understand the real needs of a client. Sometimes, a client would express interest in a document imaging archiving system, but the VAR would neglect to ask precisely what the client wanted to use it for. As a result, sometimes the VAR would install a document imaging system that was had far more capacity and was far more expensive than the client needed. This often led to disgruntled clients and a bad rap for document imaging technology.
Keeping Up With The Changes - Hajost's View
Hajost, whose company deals with large enterprises, believes that major changes are taking place in document imaging technology, on a par with the shift from mainframes to PCs. In the past, clients of VARs and systems integrators often considered the technology to be almost mystical. Therefore, they wanted VARs and systems integrators to install their equipment and train their people. In the future, as the technology advances, however, clients won't need VARs to install equipment. The equipment will be easier to install and clients will be more sophisticated. Hajost feels that VARs and systems integrators need to recognize that great changes are occurring and to rethink how they'll be involved in the industry in future. On the negative side, those who can't provide value-added services will be left in the cold. On the positive side, however, he says, "for those who accept the challenge, life will become a lot easier." In his view, VARs and systems integrators will need to shift from installation and training to application development, project management and reengineering.