The power of Fusion

Editorial Type: Interview Date: 2020-01-01 Views: 1,087 Tags: Document, Capture, Strategy, Management, Digital Transformation, Scanning, ibml, Fusion, iQpro PDF Version:
DM magazine spoke to John Mancini, president of Content Results and past president of AIIM, alongside ibml's vice-president of product marketing Susheel John about how information is increasingly at the heart of how organisations deliver value, and how ibml's new Fusion platform aims to become the default capture solution for centralised scanning operations

David Tyler: John, with your many years of experience you're better placed than most to explain where we are today with digital transformation - where it is happening effectively, and what is holding us back. How would you summarise your concerns?
John Mancini: Your readers will be familiar with much of the research work I've done with AIIM's Industry Watch programme and independently: one point to focus on is a kind of 'schizophrenia' we're seeing in terms of how people view digital transformation. On the one hand everyone says 'Yes, this is key for us,' but when we ask how effective they think their efforts are, there is a definite gap . And this issue is perhaps more pronounced now than it has been in the past. So why is that?

When I ask how much information an organisation thinks will be coming in over the next 2 to 3 years, the answer seems to consistently come back at somewhere around 4 to 4.5 times the current volume - a huge increase. My follow-up question asks how much of that information they would expect to be unstructured or semi-structured data - and again, we get a consistent figure in response of somewhere around 60%. When you put those two figures together you can see we will be facing a pretty challenging mix - information is growing at geometric rates, with the added dimension that it's not just 'data', but all that pesky 'content' as well.

Legacy approaches to information management tend to create a 'long tail' of paper. The need to manage and integrate paper into overall information flows is made worse by how quickly the volume of that information is increasing. People are still sending over 17 billion faxes in a year, for example. US companies spend over US$120 billion a year on printed forms. Invoices - which you might have thought we'd have a good handle on automating by now - over two-thirds of invoices being handled globally are still in paper or PDF form. So paper remains a very significant portion of our information flows, and will be for at least the next ten years or so. Organisations need to figure out how to manage that. If you're going to capitalise on delivering value digitally, then you have to be able to convert things into a predictable, manageable and auditable digital flow.

DT: What you've said leads nicely to Susheel's key focus for our interview today, tying digital transformation to information management and then to paper; it serves to put some context around ibml's new Fusion announcement.
Susheel John: It is actually a good summary of the thought processes that set us on the path toward Fusion. Over 2 years ago now we started to plan for the next generation of high volume scanners. Our customers include some of the largest organisations in the world, and we have been talking to them about exactly the long tail of paper that John mentioned. One area he didn't discuss was cheques - nobody use cheques any more, right? Actually, in the US alone around 17 billion cheques are still used in a year. So yes, there are still a lot of forms of paper out there, and they are all business inputs.

Another thing we discovered when we dug deeper with our customers was that they are using multiple different capture devices: they might use ibml for certain processes, and maybe solutions from our friends at Alaris or other desktop manufacturers for other capture requirements, and sometimes specific reader/sorter devices from the likes of NCR and Unisys that are used exclusively for cheque/remittance processing.

These customers were clearly suffering the 'pain points' of managing capture across all these different devices, and that was where the vision for ibml's Fusion was born - not just the world's fastest scanner, but a truly comprehensive capture platform. It will help customers to consolidate all these different capture applications and processes into one streamlined process.

DT: So the key advantage for customers of the Fusion approach will be this ability to consolidate capture onto one device type, one platform?
SJ: One specific advantage for some customers will be in centralising potentially sensitive information management. Confidential data can be handled with a chain of custody and gives far better control of customer data. Additionally there can be an issue with some of these devices no longer being serviceable, for example some of the cheque reading systems which are no longer being supported by the manufacturers, or which use operating systems that are similarly no longer supported and updated. That alone can create a risk to business continuity that might justify looking at a replacement system.

We are well established at ibml as the global leader in high volume intelligent document automation and capture, with a presence in well over 80% of customers who use these types of solution today. What we are aiming for with Fusion is to be seen as the default choice for those users who are looking to capture information from paper-based processes. As I already mentioned, Fusion is the world's fastest scanner. It will run at around 730 A4 pages per minute. It will process over 930 cheques per minute. As with our previous ImageTrac devices, the Fusion produces three images simultaneously as it scans, so in fact we are talking about 4,200-plus images per minute.

But it's not just about the images we scan. We are also running our brand-new iQpro image processing technology on these thousands of images to do all the image correction that might be required: auto-deskew, auto-re-orient, speck removal etc. This means the image is perfect and ready for extraction.

DT: So this is not just a new piece of ibml hardware that is faster than previous versions: there is a lot more to Fusion than just rapid scanning of high volumes of paper?
SJ: It's not just about scan speed, for sure. iQpro is brand new, offering software-based image processing on the fly, in real-time, at the speed of the scanner. The fact that it is software-based allows us to make continuous updates to our image processing algorithms and deploy those changes in the field very quickly.

Other innovations on the Fusion include significant feeder enhancements, where a completely new mechanism means it can handle a wide variety of documents, as well as track-wide ultrasonic multi-feed detection and intelligent envelope detection, as well as 'smart' motorised output sort pockets. Fusion is extremely user-centric in design as well as being easily accessible for service. All of these points help reduce stoppages and make life easier for operators, which is crucial in high volume environments of course.

Nonetheless it is worth emphasising that ibml Fusion is 67% faster than the ImageTrac, and it is also significantly faster than the closest competitive scanner. But it's not just about speed for the sake of it: speed is important where customers are trying to consolidate multiple processes and applications, where each application may have its own time constraints. Speed is crucial where users are trying to handle ever more throughputs on one single device.
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