Universal Document Capture

By Michael Benayoun posted 10-11-2010 00:07


“First the earth cooled. And, then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died, and they turned into oil.” Then came Universal Document Capture!

OK, I may have skipped a few important events for the interest of time. I also have to say that I am a big Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker fan and that I probably watched Airplane one too many times…

More seriously, we are currently observing a very interesting convergence in the worlds of Document Imaging and Enterprise Content Management. Those disciplines have obviously been around for quite some time now, and there has always been some level of integration and synergy between them.

One on side, the Imaging discipline has historically mainly focused on the capture of paper-based documents to convert them into electronic documents. Where those documents end up is really up to you.

On the other side, ECM solutions and repositories have become as pervasive as databases, and we are experiencing, like in the late 80s for the database market, a healthy consolidation of ECM repositories, thanks in part to the emergence of standards.

It is true that larger organizations have tackled the ECM and Imaging challenges as a whole and put solutions, policies and processes in place to capture records (both physical and electronic) and manage them in a centralized repository. However, I would argue that there are still a large number of pockets in most organizations where content is managed in silos. Sometimes, it is due to a lack of governance, but most of the time, those organizations do not even have the appropriate solutions in place to allow everyone inside the organization (or even outside) to participate in the lifecycle of content management, starting with the capture of documents.

There is a new breed of Document Capture solution that can help bridge the gap between ECM and Document Imaging. Universal Document Capture can help organizations address their imaging challenges by leveraging their investments in ECM technologies and policies. These solutions are:

- Universal in Deployment: traditionally, document scanning operations have been centralized to benefit from economies of scale when deploying large and expensive solutions. Distributed Capture has shown promises over the past few years but it was still lacking in usability that prevented deployments in remote locations with lower volumes. Universal Document Capture addresses those challenges by allowing organizations to leverage deployment models that truly fit their strategy but also allow room to scale for their future growth. With Universal Document Capture, organizations can deploy solutions that not only address production scanning but also “true” distributed scanning or evenmobile capture. What we mean by “true” distributed scanning is finally the end of a “hub and spoke” model characterized by one-way communications between remote scanning and centralized operations. We are now empowering the knowledge workers with tools that allow them to efficiently collaborate on content from its creation for better and faster decision making.

- Universal in People: the versatility and usability of Universal Document Capture allows knowledge workers and casual users with no or minimal training to participate in the document capture process, when only trained scanning operators were involved in the past. This finally makes sense as benefits gained by distributed capture outweigh incremental costs introduced by higher paid employees or by a limited number of support calls.

- Universal in touch points. Universal Document Capture introduces support for a multitude of capture devices, including high speed scanners, MFPs, desktop scanners, workgroup scanners, Fax, or even mobile devices such as iPhone. The modularity and support for standard interfaces of Universal Document Capture solutions allow new devices to be supported as soon as they hit the market.

- Universal in reach. Universal Document Capture can be deployed at a department level, at remote locations or branches, across the enterprise, whether inside the organization, or outside (partners, customers, agents, franchisees). With a licensing model that is not based on page count like most traditional capture solutions, organizations are now finally able to benefit from distributed capture without the fear of “breaking the bank”. It is indeed difficult to project page volume when document imaging is opened up to remote constituents inside and even worse, outside the organization.

- Universal in flexibility. A number of organizations already have ECM and Document Imaging solutions in place. A few of them will decide to replace their legacy solutions, but the majority will want to leverage their existing technologies. In an AIIM study that ImageSource sponsored a few months ago, 46% of users are reporting a payback within 12 months when deploying capture solutions. With Universal Document Capture solutions, we have seen organizations get a payback on their investment after only 6 to 8 months.


Organizations are looking to bridge the “last mile” of the information lifecycle by empowering their entire ecosystem (employees, partners, customers) to truncate paper at the source. By deploying Universal Document Capture solutions, they are able to dramatically reduce the costs and risks associated with paper documents and processes, deliver better customer service, and improve overall decision making.

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