A Growing Demand for Document Automation Spurs Profit and Improvements

By Kevin Craine for Aluma

Despite the idea of the paperless office, a lot of business gets done using paper. This not only includes ad hoc and process-specific workflow for things like new account openings or customer onboarding, but also large-scale and enterprise activities like accounts payable, billing, or human resources.

Digital transformation starts with the ability to digitize and optimize information at the earliest opportunity. This places device manufacturers and Managed Print Services providers directly at the center of their client’s digital transformation journey. The trick, however, is to empower copiers, printers and multifunction devices to do more than just copy, print and scan.

A Revolution in Document Processing Automation

I spoke recently with Ed Wingate, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Aluma, to discuss these aspects, and what he feels is an untapped opportunity in the market for multifunction device suppliers and manufacturers.

“I believe that the document processing market is ripe for disruption,” says Ed. “If we look historically at the market, it's been dominated either by those players who provide batch capture of documents usually deployed in scanning centers or service bureaus, or it's in large enterprise workflow applications. Both are complex and high-volume. In those cases the complexity and high costs are justified because the project is big enough to have the effort and expense make sense.”

Multifunction device manufacturers and Managed Print Services providers are directly at the center of their client's digital transformation journey.

Automation Demand Pushes Growth and Profit

But the current market opportunity isn’t just found in large applications. Ed says we’re seeing a growing demand for digitization and process automation across the board. “The need for automation is pervasive in small and medium-sized businesses, as well as in individual corporate departments that are currently being overlooked because their needs don’t rise to the top of IT priorities. So I see a large swath of opportunity that is not currently being addressed by the existing document management players.”

According to a research study conducted by AIIM International, 60% of organizations feel that processes that are repetitive and use a standard operating procedure would benefit most from process automation. Automation that crosses process boundaries is key; 37% of organizations are focused on cross-department processes, with those connection points seen as where the opportunity to automate and improve is the greatest.

Pervasive Opportunity

Ed points out that multifunction device providers are perhaps best positioned to drive and take advantage of the untapped market opportunity for document automation. “Multifunction devices are pervasive. They touch every document in the office. And it is during those three or four critical seconds -- when the document is scanned and handled – that the opportunity to add some intelligence and value to the process presents itself. That’s the exciting opportunity that device providers and managed print providers have available at their fingertips today.”

Automated redaction from a multi-function device

Aluma applying redactions on an MFD

Multifunction device providers are best positioned to drive and take advantage of the untapped opportunity for document processing automation.

Value-Driven Capabilities

How can you capitalize on the market opportunity and bring a new level of intelligence to scanners, printers and multifunction devices? Here are some key capabilities enabled by Aluma that you should consider.

Extract critical information from documents at the time of scanning – Users don’t need a complex batch scanning system if they just need to pull key data fields from everyday documents like an invoice or form. Aluma provides a number of automation tools that train an MFD to recognize your client’s document types and extract the right information automatically and reliably. The MFD can then directly feed your client’s systems of record or workflow application with the required information.

Automatic Redaction – Data security and information privacy are more important and more challenging than ever before. One way to ensure that sensitive data remains private is with automatic redaction at the time of scanning. Tools from Aluma empower end users to verify redaction accuracy right on the MFD and then dispatch redacted documents to selected recipients.

Intelligent Auto-Filing – Even the best digital transformation strategies will fail if users don’t adopt and embrace the tools and techniques. Aluma works to take the drudgery out of document naming and filing through the UI of the MFD. Instead, information is extracted automatically. The platform learns as it goes, and will suggest an appropriate file name and logical location to place the scanned document based on how each end user organizes their digital content.

Moving Forward

The untapped opportunity for device providers is magnified by the fact that most multifunction devices operate without much intelligence. “They are feature rich, but generally don’t provide much operational value overall,” says Ed. “We change all that by making intelligence accessible via a cloud-based service architecture. The portfolio of automation tools is accessible for each and every multifunction device. We've curated a set of functions around document processing, whether it be for classification, indexing, data extraction, redaction or bookmarking, that are all accessible through REST APIs that can be called from any application. For providers, that easily accessible architecture enables every standard multifunction device to provide much more process intelligence and value than ever before.”

With enhanced functionality from Aluma, MFDs can move from merely pushing paper to perform as a connected and intelligence devices that drive process improvement and organizational performance.

Kevin Craine is a technology writer, business analyst, and host of “The Digital Transformation Podcast.”

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