Dave Lancaster, European Product Marketing Coordinator at Brother International Europe, comments on five years of scanner innovation from the global technology specialist.
Many of the people who turned to our new range of standalone scanners in 2012 were already familiar with the benefits offered by the Brother range of printers and multi-function devices. Offering the same easy customisation and quality, it’s little wonder that our standalone scanners have become so popular in the space of five years.
It helped that our standalone scanners became available at a time when cloud computing and data storage marked another milestone on the road towards more efficient administration. Offering the flexibility to scan and archive documents pretty much anywhere, standalone scanners continue to provide a vital portal between the physical and digital worlds. Scanning paper documents direct to the digital cloud, or an inhouse data storage system, has increased efficiency of access to information through searchable files and removed the need for companies to store large amounts of paper.
A challenge has been an exponential increase in the amount of information that businesses must process. Gone are the days of a 9-5 office life, where there was a defined start/stop time of the influx of information. The rise of mobile devices, remote working, easier global collaboration across different time zones and attitudinal changes to ways of working, including the increased uptake of flexible working, have resulted in more of an ‘always on’ environment. If anything, our hunger for information has grown, as has our access to it. The challenge comes in being able to keep up the pace of managing it. Document management attitudes have changed and technology had to evolve to be fit for purpose. In that respect, standalone scanners have led the way.
Quick and easy document scanning is essential, as is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that a searchable copy of a paper document is archived yet accessible. Optical Character Recognition, the process whereby the written content on a scanned document comes to life as searchable and editable text, makes that possible. Those businesses who have integrated a standalone scanner into their routine workflow come to appreciate the long term benefit of collecting and storing documents in this way.
Increasingly, users have also come to understand the benefits this has brought in terms of disaster recovery. Independent research* shows that disaster recovery is a top security concern for technology end users. Three quarters (76%) of enterprise scale companies surveyed (500+ employees) identified business continuity and disaster recovery as among their top three security pain points. Business continuity and disaster recovery also rank prominently among the concerns of small (50%), medium (51%), and large businesses (62%). Research shows that many smaller companies are also struggling to manage data and information compliance. This was flagged as a key concern by 45% of medium-sized companies and 44% of large companies. The effective use of standalone scanners provides a simple solution to these concerns.
What constitutes a disaster has also changed in five years. Physical risks such as fire and flood now rank alongside cybersecurity concerns as things that keep business owners and managers awake at night. Effective and efficient information management is imperative in business. Many companies must comply with strict information and data rules. Retailers scanning in invoices will know that the sooner that customer information is in the system, the more efficiently the account is processed. Miss that gap and it can cost business. Other concerns include the secure filing of tax details, or the owner of a small business who understands the value of archiving business intelligence and documentation. Whether they are concerned about protecting themselves against fire, flood or criminal activity, businesses of all sizes know that it is now essential to ensure that they can digitise records of transactions and documentation.
Automated and customisable
Physical records are vulnerable. Digitisation through a scanner does far more than create a photographic copy. Automated and customisable processes – available straight out of the box with a Brother scanner - can ensure that documents are filed on local computers, a remote server, or trusted cloud solutions such as Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive.
But Brother cannot claim all of the credit for the progress that it continues to make. The continuous evolution achieved across Brother’s standalone scanners has been informed by users through communication with our Special Solutions Team (SST), ensuing our scanner R&D chimes with our motto – it’s both ‘At Your Side’ and answers the questions users are actually asking. This is achieved through Europe-wide user research, feedback and customer site visits. The workarounds and updates which follow requests for support from individual customers become templates to help other customers, and often find their way into production models.
There are now 16 standalone scanners in Brother’s line-up including four mobile scanner options used by many field workers; two compact desktop scanners ideal for home offices; six desktop scanners; and four professional, high volume scanners capable of printing up to 80 pages per minute https://www.brother.be/nl-be/scanners.
The devices differ in capability in order to meet the requirements of the people who use them. Some require speed, others are more concerned about data security and features such as Near Field Communication, enabling electronic tags to be used to authorise scanning.
Standalone scanners have also enjoyed friendly competition with the inbuilt scanners on our multi-function inkjet and laser printers. It’s helped us create the very best in standalone document scanner technology. Products are now available that can scan 80 double-sided documents per minute. Form and format is no obstacle for disaster recovery preparation either. Varied documents, ranging from credit cards to customer invoices, can be stacked in a scanner feed for automatic scanning in the same batch. Documents can be scanned at high (interpolated) resolutions of up to 1200DPI. This is useful where fine detail is necessary, such as in an architectural practice or a medical setting.
Growing sales of standalone scanners will increase the need for interoperability. Customers require technology that works with the Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems on their work computers. infoSource predict continuing growth for the European scanner market, with sales expected to rise from circa 400,000 units to circa 470,000 units per year by 2020. By supporting the needs of our customers, we’ve enjoyed increasing market share across Western Europe, where Brother is now number two in terms of standalone scanner sales (infoSource: 22% market share, Q1 2017).
But this is no accident. We’ve achieved that by working with customers to understand what they want now and in future. Providing businesses with an easier means to manage their own disaster recovery is a byproduct of that relationship.
Physical documentation remains an important part of the commercial world and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future. But our standalone scanners enable people to do their jobs more effectively, more efficiently and more securely.
As data security and digital services grow in prominence, business continuity and digital recovery will become increasingly important. It is crucial that our scanner technology continues to keep pace with these customer requirements to keep their relationship with our brand strong. With our third generation ADS series coming to market in Europe in 2017, in the form of the ADS-2200 and ADS-2700W desktop models, the evolution is set to continue.
* Source: IDC Western European End User Hardcopy Survey, Q2 2017