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It only took a global pandemic and crushing supply chain snafus that each short-circuited hardware sales, but document solutions are finally coming to the forefront for office equipment dealers and their customers. Jamie Bsales has been following the document imaging software market for Keypoint Intelligence since 2007 and the wider IT technology arena since 1992. He has seen a world of change over that time and talks here about what’s new—and what’s next.
Sam Keller: What are some areas of growth in the document solutions market?
Jamie Bsales: Thanks to the continued urgency around automation and digital transformation (DX) initiatives, we are anticipating growth in almost all of the document imaging solutions market segments we cover—capture and workflow, document management, and print management chief among them. This conclusion is based on surveys with leading document imaging OEMs and independent software vendors, interviews with key office solution dealers, and information gleaned from IT purchase decision-makers through our research studies and other independent research.
Much of the growth we are anticipating is thanks to the continued adoption of cloud-based solutions. Enterprise customers who already have an on-premises solution in place are coming back into the market for a cloud-resident alternative to support newly remote and/or hybrid workers, while the low barriers to entry (in terms of initial cost and IT bandwidth required) are attracting new customers in the SMB space who previously could not justify the investment. In fact, our numbers indicate that in the US, revenue for cloud-based document imaging software surpassed that of on-prem software in 2022. We expect the same to happen in European markets in 2023.
SK: Regarding digital transformation as a growth area, why are companies focusing on this specifically?
JB: One key driver in the acceleration of DX initiatives is the need to support hybrid working models. When the majority of an organization’s workforce were in the office together, it was easier to ignore manual workflows that may have been inefficient and a pain in the butt, but at least work could get done. Once people were forced out of the office, however, those inefficiencies were thrown into stark relief. Companies were forced to implement alternatives. Some were able to do so quickly, while others are still coming into the fold. Hence the sustained growth in DX-related solutions sales through at least 2026 that we are forecasting.
SK: Are these initiatives in digital transformation achieving the goals?
JB: Absolutely without a doubt! Customers are seeing a handsome return on their DX investments. Some of the benefits IT purchasers have reported to us include increased efficiency and time-savings for employees, increased accuracy of data destined for back-end systems, and the ability for employees to access documents and workflows from anywhere, among others. Notably, only 2% of respondents reported seeing no benefit from their DX initiatives.
That’s not to say it’s been all milk and honey. IT buyers have also reported some challenges. For example, some have seen a larger investment in IT time than anticipated and underestimated the amount of customization a DX solution requires to implement. Challenges for end users reported to us include the system being harder for employees to learn than anticipated, along with the hurdle of breaking employees out of the “old way” of doing things.
SK: In addition to digital transformation and other current activities in the document solutions market, what are some trends we should be looking out for in the future?
JB: The biggest trend in document imaging solutions right now is the adoption of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA). Developers are incorporating these technologies into their DX platforms to further streamline repetitive processes. When correctly implemented, these engines can take over much of the grunt work of a workflow process and free up humans for higher-value work. This further increases the ROI companies see when implementing a solution, while also improving job satisfaction (and reducing turnover) in the workforce.
Check out Jamie’s blogs here. If you would like to access his in-depth research in the office document industry, please fill out this form or, if you are a subscriber, log in to the InfoCenter to view research on DX, document solutions, and more through our Office CompleteView Advisory Service.