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Ease of Use Rules! Trends in the Distributed Scanning Hardware Space

abstract image of 3D boxes connected. Distributed Scanning trends discussed in this Two Question Tuesday

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COVID had a large impact on the scanning hardware market, shifting purchases to smaller scanners that could be used by workers suddenly barred from the office.

In this Two Question Tuesday, Barbara Richards, Senior Analyst, Hardware, Infosource, discusses this shift based on Infosource’s research.

This quick video will give you insights into the legs of this trend, as well as thoughts on how this shift could impact scanner design. Watch the interview below or skip down and read a lightly edited transcript.

Barbara, I’m glad I finally corralled you into doing one of these. Let’s dive right in. So COVID boosted sales for the lower volume document scanners and as office work sort of looks to be officially becoming a hybrid environment, do you think that market will continue to see a steady growth?

That’s an interesting question. We did a lot of research around pre- and post-COVID and looking at the data that Infosource (contact Barbara for more information about her research) has as it relates to what we call distributed scanning. And we saw kind of a shift during COVID from back office or what we would traditionally call batch scanning to what we include as distributed scanning. That’s in personal desktop, workgroup, and departmental scanners.

And a lot of that had to do with the fact that there were remote workers and they needed to continue to work in a location that provided workflow capabilities for them. So they shifted their buying and purchasing decisions. That was often done at a corporate level and it was done through a traditional VAR channel. Or it could have been through a corporate account and now you have these people all over the country trying to develop a work collaboration office and they were looking for a scanner to provide those solutions for them.

Retail and mass retail grew during the pandemic and the distributed scanner segment grew based on the fact that these people were purchasing these things maybe through petty cash with budget restraints. They had to kind of shop around for the right choice for them. They purchased things that they could afford and maybe they were reimbursed at a later date, and everything was kind of ad hoc, right, Because this was the very first time that people were under this type of environment. And so they had to create a traditional work environment in a very short period of time.

So the second part of your question was as it becomes more of a hybrid environment where we’re starting to see a shift back to the office for some large organizations, how does that shift and change in terms of the distributed scanner segment?

Our data has indicated that we are seeing some steady growth opportunities still as folks go back to the office and that hybrid work environment is leaning itself to have people be able to have a little more flexibility with their workflow. And there’s a couple of things that are important to those consumers that are purchasing those types of devices.

As it relates to the set and functionality of those scanners, that’s kind of shifted. I wouldn’t believe that we’d be talking about network scanners or you know 4.3 inch touchscreen designs on these devices in 2023. But we are and that seems to be led by a consumer trend to more user friendly, smaller design, smaller footprint, and the feature set has shifted to security and network or Wi-Fi support.

Okay. So maybe you jumped the gun a little bit, but it’s also a good lead into the next question, which is how has and will the move of office work to a hybrid environment affect scanner design? I mean, you mentioned the largest touchscreen, right? I mean obviously without that onsite tech support, seems to me that the equipment needs to be as simple as possible because as we all know users are idiots, right? That includes me.

There’s certainly the plug and play capability and they’re going to need to be able to create that digital workflow in their hybrid office environment. And so definitely we’ll see more of that. It’s not that batch scanning or back office is going away, it’s just kind of shifted to the distributor side of the house for now.

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