Ready for whatever the future brings

Editorial Type: Interview Date: 2020-03-01 Views: 823 Tags: Document, Capture, Scanning, Cloud, Mobile, Hardware, PFU, Fujitsu PDF Version:
DM Magazine editor David Tyler caught up with Mike Nelson, Senior Vice President, PFU (EMEA) Limited, at the company's ICC event to discuss the changing world of capture and information management

David Tyler: it has been over three years since the last Information Capture Conference - I'm guessing there is a lot to catch up on for your channel partners?
Mike Nelson: PFU has not hosted an Information Capture Conference for a while, but we have not been idle. We've been restructuring our business, developing new products, acquiring new skills, and implementing a new go-to-market strategy. This process is ongoing, but we have become agile, and we are ready. We understand that the need for intelligent automation is accelerating, and that capture has an important part to play. RPA will supplement the human workforce when it comes to automating repetitive tasks where there are unambiguous business rules and many systems used in the processes. With greater automation, there will be a renewed focus on the quality and accuracy of capture, to ensure the integrity of extracted content and to reduce the need for exception handling.

Today we live in a world where expectations are changing: we don't tolerate technology that isn't smart, intuitive or cost-effective. The browser has become the user interface of choice, which means web-based capture will come to answer many of our challenges. Our real area of expertise of course in the scanning devices themselves. We understand the challenges of the modern workplace, where mobility and simplicity have to be balanced with data security and privacy. Technology should enable our workforce, rather than create challenges for them.

DT: What are some of the specific product innovations we will be seeing at the conference, and how do they reflect the changing market?
MN: PFU's legacy has been built on our workmanship, our attention to detail and of course our product quality. We have differentiated ourselves on the core characteristics of imaging: the quality of the images we produce, and the integrity of our document handling features - and we are rightly proud of our achievements. But our future will be in providing solutions that address connectivity, mobility and security as well as providing first class imaging capabilities. We recently introduced the fi-7300NX as you know, which is not just a network scanner, it's an appliance - designed to provide authenticated users with the workflows appropriate to their roles. They can push documents to the right destination, or trigger a scan from their tablet. This is how we're taking the complexity out of client-side scanning - no more complex menus, scanner drivers or connectivity issues.

With a suite of tools such as NFC authentication, application connector APIs and a REST API, alongside remote deployment and management tools, we can drastically reduce the cost of deployment and ongoing management of scanning. The partners we have at this event are able to share first-hand some of the results that can be achieved from this approach.

DT: What kind of market changes are driving your strategy in terms of product but also your go-to-market strategies?
MN: We know that more change is on the way: consumers are now more likely than ever before to change their behaviours based on experience. We are increasingly becoming subscribers - to both services and products. You'll remember that information capture went through something of a boom in the years immediately following the financial crisis in 2008: banks rushed to modernise their infrastructure, designing in compliance and improving customer service. There was a lot of consolidation and mergers, which meant branch closures but also a wider standardisation of processes. That led to a huge investment in scanning infrastructure - and this wasn't just aimed at cost reduction, business efficiency, or compliance. And it wasn't all about capturing form-based data - a major driver was identity capture.

That meant our challenges at the time were not around paper handling, image processing or connectivity: instead the differentiating factor to win this business the ability to feed a Turkish driving license, a South African family book, or a French ID card. And now, proving identity has become a critical part of the onboarding process, and not only for banks: health tourism, anti-money laundering legislation and of course GDPR, are all creating another wave of investment in imaging technology. Secure, compliant, quick and seamless ID capture and verification is an area which, for many, requires processes to be re-engineered - and this is another area where PFU can now add significant value, with our unique fi-800R.

DT: Can you tell us something about the way you work with your channel partners - they are obviously a crucial part of your overall company strategy?
MN: The dynamic in our channel has changed as competitors disrupt traditional approaches. Nobody is immune from change, but often change is itself where the greatest opportunity resides. Digital transformation will continue to drive this change, and this is largely because business models themselves are changing. As consumers we've moved away from buying products and onto solutions, and from single transactions to subscriptions, from on-premise to cloud, and from off-the-shelf to unique bespoke solutions. If the channel is agile enough there will be a strong correlation between customer demand and channel behaviour.

As an industry born from capture and compliance we are more aware than most that digital transformation is about people and not technology - it's about business processes and how organisations work. The technology is just a business tool that helps us rise to these challenges. Of course, when it comes to imaging and capture, we understand it's no longer just about securing information from the analogue form: multi-channel communication means that organisations need to deal with information as it arrives, however it arrives, and from whichever direction. It's not only the continued use of paper in business that's driving growth in the capture market - whether structured or unstructured data, a form that is paper or digital, through a channel that is physical or electronic - the principles are all the same.

We know that B2B buyers would rather do business with someone they perceive to be expert in a particular matter - they want to feel that their business needs are understood. Everyone at this conference recognises that the expertise and principles of capture address many of the information challenges that organisations face. That may relate to communication, business process, customer experience, data protection, or simply the management of information and the business insight this provides. Our industry has a great deal to offer - it is not just about addressing the 'fear factor' of non-compliance. It is about creating agility and frictionless processes that can add so much value to any organisation. I believe that is how the document imaging and capture channel can differentiate and be successful in the future - that is why here at PFU we are focused on developing our skills, creating and sharing know-how, and investing in creating solutions. This is the world we live in right now - one of big challenges and bigger opportunities.
More info: uk.fujitsu.com/scanners

"PFU's legacy has been built on our workmanship, our attention to detail and of course our product quality. We have differentiated ourselves on the core characteristics of imaging: the quality of the images we produce, and the integrity of our document handling features - and we are rightly proud of our achievements. But our future will be in providing solutions that address connectivity, mobility and security as well as providing first class imaging capabilities."