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How digital transformation will impact the document industry

17 Apr 2019
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Article by Y Soft Australia and New Zealand managing director Adam O’Neill. 

Digital transformation can help organisations streamline processes for better efficiency, productivity, and user experiences. This is particularly relevant for document management. Digital documents can become much more powerful when organisations can harness the data and metadata those documents contain, using the information to power contextual search capabilities and workflows. 

Organisations are digitising everything including documents, interactions and other touch points. The significance is that the amount of data collected from these digital efforts has spurred impactful innovations. 

Sophisticated scanning systems use optical character recognition (OCR) to create additional layers of information when scanning documents, which has led to innovative solutions for analysing and visualising data, including artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. 

When it comes to storing and managing documents, the focus has shifted away from what the document is to what data the document contains. This means a shift for channel partners as well. 

For starters, channel partners who stand still will, over time, no longer be standing. The document industry has already evolved from selling printers to selling solutions. Those who are surviving, perhaps even thriving, are those that are evolving. Print, copy and scan devices themselves are evolving to take advantage of third-party solutions. For partners, the pace to keep up has been fast. It will get even faster. However, the printer becomes a means to an end in a sense. 

It will not be long until print services devices become similar to mobile phones, where making calls has become a minor feature compared to the apps and services it offers. That is not to say there are no further innovations to be made on print devices. The innovations are now less about the traditional core features and more about connecting to other systems and user experience improvements. 

In today’s digital transformation era, print channel partners need to talk less about speeds of paper and toner coverage than they do about connecting services to the cloud and smartly anticipating users’ processes. They are expected to be more IT-savvy than print device-savvy. 

Some forward-thinking and evolved managed print service (MPS) providers are already offering IT services in the form of managing print services on behalf of the customer from a network, server hardware maintenance perspective. Any partner that can help a company with its MPS infrastructure is helping them focus IT services on more innovative projects. 

However, partners need to take this further by leveraging the shift surrounding data by offering consultative services that help customers collect, harness, and use the data. 

While evolving to stay relevant can be challenging, there are also great opportunities for the document imaging industry. An IT consultancy, associated with global brands, is a high-margin business and can help boost the channel business’s own brand as the provider of local service, support, and consultancy. 

Because digital transformation is a journey, not all customers will be moving at the same pace. It’s important to target customers individually to start with, giving those who are ready a tailored experience, while establishing a business model that will take the channel business into the future.

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