The distributed document capture market, despite having been discussed for a very long time, is still very immature. This is my conclusion after doing quite a bit of research on this market over the past couple months. Is there a best practices for distributed capture? I haven’t found anything definitive published on the topic.
So, first off, what is distributed capture? Well, it’s basically truncating-or electronifying paper documents as far up the workflow chain as possible. This means that if loan applications, for example, are filled out at a branch office of a bank, they are going to be scanned there and sent digitally to loan processing center for approval and archiving. The advantages are that
1. distributed capture can reduce the time it takes to get the paper forms to the loan processing center,
2. it can save money on courier charges if the paper forms were being overnighted,
3. it can reduce the number of documents lost in transit as well as increase security around the transfer of the documents,
4. and it can put data entry related to the loans into the hands of the customer service rep at the branch, who is going to be more invested in the loan than a data entry operator at loan processing center.
Yes, all of these can be advantages, but there are some disadvantages too. For example, do you want your mid-level salaried knowledge workers, like loan officers, doing scanning and data entry when they could be producing more loans?
I guess the reason I haven’t really seen a definitive best practices on distributed document capture is because there are so many diverse approaches to it, and to me, this is the sign of an immature market. I think I talked with four vendors in the past two weeks, all of which are promoting and selling distributed capture, but all who are doing it very different ways. Daybreak ICS, for example, uses a client server approach with a universal client for document scanners and customized release scripts from its server into ECM applications. eCopy also has customized release scripts, or “Connectors,” as well as a universal interface, but its interface is primarily used on MFPs. Oracle, which acquired Web capture pioneer Captovation in the the spring, has a Web-based client with dedicated release scripts. ImageTag picks up images from a watched folder and files them based on data assigned to a bar-coded tag applied to the document before it’s scanned.
All these different approaches lead to different workflows associated with distributed capture. All these vendors have had success, of course, but perhaps one reason the market has not caught fire the way many people are projecting, is because there is no standardized best practices. In other words, there’s too much solutions providing/customization going on in the distributed capture space and not enough product sales.
I think some sort of flow-chart/questionnaire for end users with multiple sites is in order.
Any thoughts on this?