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Document imaging, digital printing hot technology trends

Among office automation/digital imaging providers, change is a certainty and keeping up is the order of the day. Digital imaging is definitely here to stay. However, in addition to new technology, recent weather conditions are playing a role in current trends and issues among businesses.

Keith King, president of Document Imaging Solutions of Cleveland, says businesses are a lot more interested now in permanently recording their documents. “It’s because of two things — hurricanes and the intensity of today’s paper burden,” he said. “We’ve seen an increased interest in digital imaging that allows us to create an archive of those documents and make them portable. A lot were destroyed. It’s hard to load up filing cabinets and take them with you when hurricanes and tornados come along.”

He adds that the paper burden has become so much more intensive that businesses are trying to find alternates to handling that paper, e-mail and other electronic documents. Document imaging helps them organize the papers in some sort of accessible fashion.

“We have two new products with the capability to Web-enable this repository of documents to make them accessible from anywhere,” said King, a CPA who started Document Imagining Solutions four years ago. “We have the ability to scan documents and load them into archives on the Internet.”

Agenda Manager is a new product that helps prepare for meetings and is especially good for organizations that have frequent, large meetings. “Take the Jackson City Council for instance,” he said. “With this product, various departments and people submitting documents for the agenda can submit those for approval via the Web. When the agenda is published on the Web, everyone has access at the same time. We’ve had some good inquiries about it.”

King also says there’s new LaserFiche integration with Arc View that provides integration between the document managing system and the widely popular mapping software. It is applicable to cities and counties, planning and development groups and emergency 911 services. “You just point and click on a parcel on a map and the software shows buildings and whatever documents are associated with that parcel,” he said.

Chris Fudge, president and owner of ASAP Printing & Copying in Flowood, also credits business’ burgeoning paper chase and hurricanes with the rapidly growing imaging industry. “Imaging is here to stay and the top trend is digital. I can’t say it enough,” he said. “It’s more efficient. Businesses don’t have to pay for storage space and they don’t have all those boxes of documents to keep up with. This way, you always have a backup.”

He believes this trend will increase over the next decade, noting that having documents on CDs is safe and more practical along with the space and cost factors. “The cost has gone down. That’s what people were waiting for,” he added.

Digital printing is also here to stay, said Fudge, who started ASAP Printing & Copying with partner Noel Alford in 1994.

“Digital printing in any way, shape or form is the trend,” he said. “With digital, we can put out print jobs a lot faster than ever. Computers have changed everything. What took eight days to print five years ago can now be done in one day.”

Stephen Sullivan, plant manager at ASAP Printing & Copying, says keeping up with technology is always an issue for them. “The turn-around times for our clients have changed,” he said. “Clients expect higher quality in a shorter production window. Without new technology, we could not do that. We’d be back in the stone age.”

Fudge predicts that a lot of printers will phase out during the next few years due to increased costs of equipment and training. “We will see fewer and fewer printers because they won’t be able to keep up fast enough or can’t invest the necessary funds to keep up,” he said. “It’s very costly and not for the faint of heart. The people hired must be more technical. You can’t make a go at the imaging business by just setting up a scanner.”

King moved his business into the Jackson market last month with the opening of a branch office in Madison. He and his employees keep up with the ever changing technology field by receiving good support from their primary vendor, LaserFiche, and by listening to customers to know what they need.

“I don’t believe many people know how advanced the technology has become. When they do find out, it will be readily adopted and implemented. We’re drowning in paper and the digital archive is the best game in town,” he said.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at mbj@msbusiness.com.


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