Susheel John is Global Category Director for Distributed Capture at Kodak Alaris Information Management. He recently answered a few questions on digital transformation.
What does digital transformation mean to you?
Digital transformation is at the core of how we help our customers. It means different things for different customers and personas within their organizations. We are affected by digital transformation in our daily transactions as individuals. But from a business perspective, Kodak Alaris is very much glued into the process of digital transformation, and one of the biggest, most important things for digital transformation of a company is to plug the gaps created by siloed information.
Information within organizations exists in multiple forms. Although paper is declining, it’s still a major source of input to business processes within an organization, and represents a large piece of siloed information. We play a central role in digitizing documents and helping organizations extract information from them and route it into a business processes or workflow.
What can you say about security in the context of transactional and distributed capture? How can customers defend against the threats they face today?
Personal data protection is critically important and a highly sensitive issue today in the world. The more a business lets a customer’s personal data remain in an analog form such as paper, the more risk individuals are exposed to as that paper moves around the organization. We believe it is important to capture information from paper right at the point of origination — across a bank teller’s counter, an insurance agent’s desk where a transaction is taking place, or in a healthcare environment where a patient is submitting documents at a nursing station. Or a government agency that delivers citizen services.
In all of these examples if you are able to capture personal information at the point of origination, return the customer’s documents right away, and then deal with the digital data once it’s inside the information management system, the data is much more secure. Customers can take further steps to secure that information by setting up access rights around who within the organization is granted access to what and how they’re using that information. So in that sense, we are helping organizations with information security by getting information off paper, out of analogous form, and into a digital format.
Paper is not expected to go away completely, especially documents of monetary value such as checks, shares, certificates, bonds, property documents, ID cards. These are expected to remain in paper form for the foreseeable future. These types of documents will by nature also have security embedded. And the ability to detect security on paper and authenticate documents will be another important aspect of security going forward.
We all know about the importance of mobile access to information. How is this being enabled? How do you see customers’ needs changing, in terms of mobile, in the next 5-10 years?
When we talk about mobility, most of the time it’s from the point of view of how we get access to organizational information when we are outside the office using a mobile device like a smartphone. I think about it from a different perspective. Mobility is also important within offices today. Increasingly, offices have open floor plans with ‘hot desks,’ where people work for a period of time and then move on to another location. We spend a lot of time in collaboration areas and meeting rooms.
In fact, research shows that more than two-thirds of workers’ time is spent in collaboration areas and not necessarily in private offices. What if their infrastructure was able to move with them? Today, when you think about it, you don’t leave your computer on your desk. Most of us use laptops and mobile devices that move with us. With this in mind, we designed our wireless and networked scanners such that they are not stuck in one place or confined to a single user. Now organizations can put our scanners in collaboration areas to enable quick and easy access for multiple users. For example, if a group of employees are collaborating on a litigation and they are from different functions, with a wireless scanner in the room each one of them can get connected to the scanner without being constrained by cables and digitize documents as and when required and upload to a common shared drive that is secured. These documents can then be quickly accessed for reference in the litigation. So mobility is not just about accessing information outside the office via smartphone, is also enabling mobility within the office with wireless and network products.
We hear a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT) as it applies to consumers (smart home devices, thermostats, appliances, etc.) – but how is it applicable for business? How do you see connected devices offering competitive advantage for B2B customers?
Distributed capture is about capturing documents at the point of origination, which means often times there are thousands of devices deployed by large enterprises across an organization. Managing distributed devices can be challenging but with the adoption of IoT technologies it will be easier to interact with devices, get live, log data from them, push bug fixes and firmware updates and offer remote solutions to fix issues.
Mission critical applications are moving to the public cloud. How can you help customers make the shift?
More and more customers are adopting cloud as a standard today, not just as a storage medium but also for applications that run on the cloud. Proof points are Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics online, SAP Hana, and other cloud-based SaaS platforms that are gaining in popularity. Clearly, mainline business systems are going more and more to the cloud and as this plays out, workers need less powerful PCs to do their jobs. They don’t need as much processing power on their desktop because much of the processing is now happening in the cloud. All they need is a PC with the ability to explore the web and not necessarily something to process all the information.
So in this scenario, Kodak Alaris is supporting customers with new products that have image processing embedded in the scanner itself. These use very little resources on the host PC, which allows our customers to reduce their infrastructure costs. They no longer need to invest so much in PCs because users can connect to our scanners via the web.
An additional capability, we have added to our wireless and network scanners is a new integration capability called the “RESTful Web API.” RESTful Web API is a great way for integrators to connect to the scanner without having to install any drivers on the PC itself. This is beneficial because if an enterprise customer has thousands of PCs installed across the network, now they don’t have to install drivers and maintain all of the latest versions. It really makes management of scanning devices very easy, and helps reduce costs on the PC footprint itself.
What differentiates your distributed capture offerings?
When most people think about distributed capture offerings they think about small businesses. I think what differentiates us is we are very much focused around the enterprise use case. We’re focused on our customers that we have typically served, which are the mid-to-large size enterprises and their use cases. The productivity capabilities that we have in our product, the reliability we build in our products, the security aspects, and the scalability of our products are created with the mid-to-large sized business in mind. This is not to say that the small office- home office (SOHO) type of business is not important to us. It’s just that the value we build into our products is really targeted for the enterprise class product.
Going forward, a futuristic view of this will be the ability to simplify our products even further and make it more and more consumer-like from a customer experience standpoint, yet have the ability to do it productively, reliably, efficiently and securely, the way mid-to-large size enterprises demand. Today employees expect enterprise class IT to work like the consumer class technology they are used to on their smartphones. This opens the door to wider adoption of our products to customer segments that have not adopted our technology yet but can gain tremendous mileage from our technologies.
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of The Imaging Channel.
Patricia Ames is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.