Global business has never been more competitive. In areas such as banking, insurance and utilities, where deregulation in many countries has opened the door to cheap offshore providers, the glut of supply has put price pressure on providers.
But customers still expect the highest levels of service or they take their business elsewhere.  This is according to Thomas S. Senger, senior VP of applications software and services EMEA at Kofax.
“Helping customers to find the best deals and switch providers is now a business in itself. Add to this the cost pressure exerted on businesses to aggressively market their capabilities and to address internal issues such as control and regulatory compliance, and it’s no surprise that many are feeling overwhelmed,” says Senger.
EOH Application Management, a business unit of EOH, one of the largest IT service providers on the African continent is the master distributor of Kofax’s entire solution portfolio to value added resellers (VARs) and system integrators in South Africa.
Many businesses have identified the handling of incoming documents from customers and suppliers as a key area of cost and risk to their business, says Ursula Dorfling, Kofax channel manager at EOH Application Management.
“Documents such as
application forms, letters, invoices and sales orders flood through the mail room, on fax machines and into e-mail boxes every day and they all must be dealt with promptly and efficiently to keep the business moving and customers happy.”
Paper documents present a particular challenge, says Senger. “They are easy to lose, hard to trace and it is difficult to distribute them effectively without incurring costs and increasing security risk.”
But hold on. Weren’t offices supposed to all go “paperless” about 20 years ago? Clearly this has not happened yet and it’s not going to happen soon either. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, there are over four-trillion paper documents in the US alone and they are growing at a rate of 22% per year.
To alleviate the problems that document handling presents and to stay competitive, industry leaders are investing in enterprise document and data capture solutions that enable them to efficiently ingest all incoming documents and efficiently convert them to actionable business data using scanning and recognition technologies.
Automating capture is often a key element of a wider business process automation initiative, says Senger.
“Businesses can invest in electronic workflow to formalise their processes, to deliver data to the right person at the right time and to trigger outbound communication to a customer, but until the information is in the system nothing happens – no customers served, no sales orders fulfilled, no invoices paid. And that’s where capture steps in.”
Businesses that invest in enterprise capture achieve fast delivery of high-quality information to people, processes and systems, increasing the speed and agility at
which they do business.
“Because every document is converted to a digital format as soon as it is received, access to documents is easier to control so data security is improved. It also substantially reduces labour costs as a result of the vast reduction in manual document handling and data entry,” explains Senger.
Dorfling says the resulting ROI, typically achieved in less than a year, makes investing in enterprise capture a logical option.
“The current growth in the market for capture is evidence of this. The global market for capture to feed a business process is growing at just shy of 10% year-on-year and the trend is set to continue. Furthermore, this trend is similar in Africa and more pertinently South Africa, though it may be more specific by industry. We see a massive growth in industries where compliance and corporate governance play a major role.”
Renowned English philosopher and sociologist Herbert Spencer coined the phrase the “survival of the fittest” in the 19th century.
“It is pertinent to take a look at the way your business handles documents and to ask yourself whether your business is fit to survive,” concludes Dorfling.