Imaging Gets A Second Look

New applications and business drivers are fueling renewed interest in document-imaging systems.
Business-technology managers should take a step back and consider imaging as part of a broader strategy for companywide content management. Such a strategy should include approaches for addressing business needs in areas such as document management, Web content management, digital-asset management, records management, enterprise report management, and content aggregation and distribution, among other things. And while it may not be realistic for an organization to standardize on a single platform or technology set for all its content-management needs, it makes sense to at least have a strategy for how such needs will be addressed.

Another key decision that businesses need to make is whether to invest in imaging as part of an overall content-management strategy or offload imaging operations to an outsourcer. Many organizations that are re-evaluating their IT strategies and looking to optimize their operations across the board are including imaging in their due diligence. Thus, more forward-thinking organizations are rolling their imaging approaches into their enterprise content-management strategies. Others, however, don't have the time or resources to devote to content management but still have needs in areas such as regulatory compliance and risk reduction. In many cases, they're turning to outsourcers and service bureaus instead of making departmental technology investments, creating more silos, and adding to their maintenance and support loads.

The third option--buying in-house software and hardware for small-scale or departmental solutions--certainly gets a lot of attention from vendors, as customers claim to be looking at more conservative spending and say they want to better focus their initiatives. Still, most imaging deployments are sufficiently broad to extend beyond small-scale rudimentary applications such as scanning a few hundred expense reports or invoices in the accounting department each year.

As a result, we expect the successful vendors to be those that can continue to speak to departmental needs where they make sense, yet offer a broader range of capabilities that plays in the context of an enterprise content-management strategy. They also will help customers embrace newer operational models for process efficiency, such as distributed and remote capture.

DoculabsRichard Medina and Joe Fenner are analysts and Christine Klima is a technical editor with Doculabs, a research and consulting firm that helps organizations plan for, select, and optimize technologies for their business strategies. Contact them at [email protected].

Illustration by Leo Espinosa

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