Scanning – an enabler for digital transformation

Quocirca’s report Scanning: An Enabler for Digital Transformation reveals that most organisations are shifting to a ‘less-paper’ environment as they accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. The study was conducted in July 2022 across 508 respondents in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

The digitisation journey

The pandemic has seen a rise in the shift to digital, with over half (53%) of organisations reporting that the top driver for digitisation is to provide a more agile and scalable IT infrastructure to deal with market uncertainties. Overall, 44% view digitisation as a foundational step toward digital transformation.

The research found that 22% of organisations are targeting paperless operations, with the majority of the rest aiming for a ‘less-paper’ environment.  68% have funding available for digital transformation projects.

Overall, 30% see view digitisation as aiding information sharing, with the same number seeing it as simplifying business processes.

Digitisation bottlenecks

There are several issues that are stopping organisations from going for digitisation on a broader basis.  One is the perception that paper copies need to be kept for legal reasons, with 39% stating this as one of their main reasons for keeping paper.

However, this perception may be misplaced given that governments and trade bodies are transitioning to digital documents and accepting that time-stamped and controlled digitised documents are more secure than the original paper version. Furthermore, not only is paper storage costly compared to digital storage, it is also more vulnerable to the risk of flood or fire damage making paper documents irrecoverable. Well managed electronic copies will have backups to guard against any loss or corruption of data from the prime store.

Other issues that the research uncovered include users’ disappointment when it comes to how their existing scanners deal with document feeds, with 33% stating that misfeeds and jams are one of the most disappointing areas.  A further 26% state that the speed of scanning is not as good as they hope, with 22% stating that quality of scanning is an issue.

Supporting a less-paper strategy with advanced scanning

While most organisations have multi-function printers (MFPs) with a scanning function, the use of these on an ad-hoc basis does not address the issues around accurate and efficient capture of information from regular incoming streams of paper – such as can be found in the post room.

Alongside this, there are other areas within organisations that will require more advanced scanning. These include dealing with different sizes of documents, some of which may need scanning at the same time, documents where the depth of field is important, and documents that may need the resulting captured images to be tidied, cleaned up and optimised after scanning, to make them more suitable for optical character recognition (OCR) or data extraction.

The research revealed that in terms of purchasing considerations, speed and image quality are top requirements, with respectively 45% and 44% stating this as a main consideration, along with 45% wanting the scanner output to be easily integrated into existing enterprise software systems. With 77% of all scanned data already being fed directly into enterprise systems, the need for simple yet effective integrations is clear.

Addressing challenges with existing scanning solutions

An area of dissatisfaction mentioned by 32% of respondents when referring to their current scanners is around time wasted in re-scanning poorly scanned items, with 26% having to re-scan missed items.  27% state that lack of availability of the scanner due to unplanned downtime is also an issue, with a similar amount stating that undue time spent on planned maintenance is an issue.

Other requirements include ease of maintenance (stated by 33%), cost (32%) and lifetime of device (31%).

The research revealed that organisations need the right mix of scanners to support business needs.  Dedicated scanners will be better suited to dealing with regular or high-volume, high-quality scanning needs, where sophisticated capture software can automate both the extraction and downstream utility of information contained within documents in the most efficient way. Whereas MFPs and lower-end dedicated scanners may suit businesses where small volumes of ad-hoc scanning may be required, and quality of output and performance are not as critical. The use of such distributed scanning also creates the need for centralised management of scanner fleets (indicated as important by 42% of respondents).


Overall, although many businesses are working strongly towards a less-paper environment within their organisation, many will remain reliant on paper-based processes as suppliers and customers continue to send paper into the organisation. With effective scanning and advanced scanning solutions that reduce risk and improve efficiency, organisations will be better positioned to accelerate their digital transformation journeys.

The research was commissioned by PFU (Europe), a RICOH company.  The full report can be downloaded here

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