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AI impacting print market with shift to digital capture

Shift towards scanning documents will have an impact on print volumes and the approach the channel needs to take with users

Customers are increasingly turning to scanning documents rather than printing them, putting the print channel under pressure to react to the growing shift.

Market watcher Quocirca has been tracking the transition to digital scanning, noting that 75% of organisations are looking to scan to help hit sustainability, efficiency and security goals.

At the same time, users adopting more artificial intelligence (AI) tools are also driving change because they expect more benefits to come from having data in a digital form that can be searched for data insights.

The main outcome of the shift to digital is an expectation print volumes will fall by an average of 3% this year, with small and medium-sized enterprises and the public sector experiencing more significant drops.

The reaction to digitisation has not been uniform across customers, with some business functions leading the way. Quocirca found that payroll was fully digitised in 54% of firms, and customer comms and contracts were also likely to be stored electronically, but for many, the mailroom remained a paper-dominated world.

“We see variations across business size and sector in the frequency and maturity of digitisation,” said Louella Fernandes, CEO of Quocirca. “Different verticals are seeking different scanning and workflow automation features. Therefore, vendor messages must be tailored accordingly. Vendors must ensure they understand where their customers are on the journey and help them build business cases that quantify the outcomes of digitisation, aligning the achievable results to business goals such as sustainability, efficiency and security.”

A growing number of customers describe themselves as “paperless”, and significant numbers are looking at digitising more processes to reduce the use of paper.

Digital document capture options

The message for vendors and their channels is to widen the pitch to include more digital document capture options.

“Suppliers with products across print and scan categories can capitalise on the opportunity to extend their digital workflow integration service offerings and participate in a broader digital ecosystem that comprises hardware, software, and services,” said Fernandes.

“This is a further swing away from transactional engagements to a more business process-orientated and consultative approach,” she added. “A mix of different hardware and software capabilities will be needed, combined with a far more open approach to the rest of the enterprise software, collaboration and workflow systems already in use within organisations.”

There has been a lot of noise made around the prospects for AI to change the industry, and there are signs the technology will also have a key role to play in the printing world, as users look to unlock more data insights.

“The fast-rising interest in AI-powered digitisation and workflow automation represents a significant opportunity for document capture hardware and software vendors,” said Fernandes. “Common objections to digitisation, such as client preferences for paper, the need for physical signatures and hard copy retention for legal reasons, are fast becoming obsolete as elegant, secure digital solutions achieve widespread adoption.

“As digitisation shifts from ‘nice-to-have’ to business-critical, vendors that offer the right solutions at the right price are likely to be pushing at an open door.”

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