I THOUGHT BACK-FILE SCANNING WOULD BE DEAD BY NOW!
Dating back to the mid-80’s to early-90’s, document imaging was a technology utilized predominantly by banking institutions. By the mid-90’s it dispersed across the corporate world as a means to expedite access to documents more efficiently. This technique provided a streamlined management system for their corporate records.
When I entered the industry in 1994, I often heard, “The opportunity for scanning companies had a window of only five years!” The reason is that all companies would likely become paperless within five years, invalidating the need for scanning bureaus. HA!
I own and operate a scanning bureau that’s been thriving since 1996. My business has scanned millions of documents across many industries: financial, manufacturing, healthcare, local and federal government, utilities, and retail, to name a few. These companies desired electronic records for various reasons: to meet compliance mandates, reduce costs, save space, and increase productivity, among others.
Fast forward, that same ‘five-year window of opportunity’ comment is still around —24 years later! That comment seems a little short-sighted, I have to say. I suppose if companies didn’t grow, expand, merge with, or acquire other companies, and if no new companies ever started, that might be a reasonable statement. Companies still print trillions of pages a year! Have you noticed how many record storage companies exist? How about all the printer and multi-function device (MFD) manufacturers, like: Xerox, Ricoh, HP, Konica-Minolta, and others? They are billion-dollar companies, and yes, they do sell other products and services besides multi-function devices, but what do their salespeople push? MFD’s! I run in the same circles as these companies, and they flip leases more than anything. Why? The answer is MFD leases generate revenue for them! That’s because people like to print!
You would think the government has scanned all their records to date, but that is not the case. I have seen a steady stream of RFPs out for bid, and they keep coming, including the corporate world. You would be surprised at some of the names of large corporations still yet to scan their legacy files. Throughout my tenure, I have spoken with many industry professionals, leading to stimulating discussions on the subject. Many paper-intensive business processes affect every industry type.
While those are valid points, I will tell you what else I notice. As a consultant and trainer for the ECM industry, I provide companies with the tools and knowledge to generate additional revenue by offering scanning services to their clients. It’s been a privilege and honor to aid non-profit agencies in creating scanning divisions and countless entrepreneurs on their new ventures. I have seen first-hand how they are finding scanning work through successful sales and marketing activities — and lots of it!
A sizeable non-profit agency I have been consulting with for a year and a half has already scanned over a million pages. They are on track to scan at least that again in a few short months. They are currently bidding on a project requiring several millions of pages to be scanned. A few other clients are in the process of scanning several decent-sized projects. During my consulting activities, I became privy to this type of information. This resulted in the conclusion that there is still quite a bit of scanning left.
Scanning is still a hot necessity, evident by the amount of work and current bids coming down the pike. I believe there are still trillions of pages out there waiting to be scanned. The work is there, you just have to find it. So, is the ‘window of opportunity’ a five-year one? I certainly don’t think so! The need for scanning will be around for a long time yet.
A client testimonial:
“April is an incredible asset to our company and our Scanning Business wouldn’t be where it is without her. She works tirelessly with us and makes herself available at a moments notice with prompt feedback and critical input to our decisions. Her brilliance is accompanied by a can do attitude all the while maintaining interpersonal skills to relate at all levels of our organization. We are very grateful for April’s support of our mission to create opportunities that enrich the lives of people with disabilities.”
Written by April M Aulick, CEE
Consultant & trainer for the ECM Industry with over 26 years experience in the industry.