Log in

ISM Article

Beyond the Big Green Button: Electronic Paper Distribution

4 Aug, 2005 By: Richard Piper imageSource

Beyond the Big Green Button: Electronic Paper Distribution

I know most of you out there
understand how to provide a machine that can capably copy and scan. But some of
you out there still have not recognized the possibilities beyond that big green
button and what can be accomplished once it has been pressed. What I am
specifically talking about is a technology that can be invaluable to your
customers—Electronic Paper Distribution (EPD).

Why do end users acquire such a solution and what should you know about it as a
dealer before providing it to your customers?

But before I get in-depth about this application, I quickly want to dispel a
myth: it is not just scanning.

If you rationalize the application simply as scanning, you are diminishing the
impact and significance— and ultimately the return—the solution provides.
Scanning is simply the vehicle used to convert the state of the document from
paper to digital format. Also, it is not designed for production-level scanning,
which is defined by a specific need to convert for reasons other than storage,
archival or retrieval.

What it’s Really All About

This solution is about distributing paper-based documents. It leverages existing
machines, resulting in enhanced productivity and cost efficiencies. Its target
market is the general office, walk-up and day-forward distribution environment
where the user most likely already has a fax, copier, and printer or MFP. For
you liquid toner guys, it adds value back into the platen.

Leveraging existing assets – Most corporations already have a copier that
has a scanning engine. However, for this application, the copier must be
digitally connected. In addition, most companies have a network infrastructure
with email services. This application adds value by combining the two.

Enhanced productivity – It’s about speed and flexibility. Today’s paper
distribution methods are slow, and more importantly, the recipient must be
physically present to receive the information. By distributing the document to
the recipient’s email address, they can receive information anywhere they have
access to their email. In short, it distributes paper-based documents at
Internet speeds.

Cost efficiencies – Today’s paper distribution methods—fax, overnight
(FedEx) and traditional mail—carry a cost (see below for more detail). So why
allow your customers to pay those costs when you can help them take advantage of
investments already made?

Customers’ Needs

The customer will realize the quickest return on investment—often less than six
months or sometimes less than one month—when they understand that the primary
objective of the offering is to simply provide an alternative to, or elimination
of, faxing and overnight delivery of paper-based documents. Secondary uses are
for day-forward distribution into a document management system, as well as
specific needs that are typically based on document and/or workflow
characteristics such as OCR, security and/or automating an expense report or
invoice submission process.

Think about it…

A fax recipient must be present, quality is questionable and it carries
transmission costs. In addition, there is a cognitive behavior value. Meaning,
the majority of fax users print a transmission receipt. It makes them feel
comfortable that the transmission went through. This receipt costs money—it is a
printed page. Conversely, when a user sends an email, they are comfortable it
was delivered because they physically witnessed the document in its electronic

Overnight is like fax, the recipient must be present to receive it. Yes,
overnight delivery may be the only choice because the document may require a
hard signature; nonetheless, the majority of two-pound overnight envelopes do
not. Typical costs can be $7 for domestic and $13 for international.

Market Dynamics

This solution is an emerging market space. The offerings on the market today, as
well as the distribution channels, are just scratching the surface of the
overall opportunity. Much of it, however, is simply because the customers have
not yet identified the explicit want or need to enhance productivity and reduce
costs when it comes to distributing paper-based documents.

According to data from recent Market Analysis and Forecast Update reports from
IDC, the worldwide shipment growth of scan-enabled monochrome laser MFP engines
is estimated to grow from 2.3 million units in 2005 to 3.5 million units in
2008—a 14.1 percent increase. Broken down, the market is estimated to grow by
7.4 percent in the U.S.; 16.1 percent in Western Europe; 17.2 percent in Asia
(including Japan); and 17.7 percent in the rest of the world (India, South
Africa, etc.).

We can then take a fair estimate of the quantity of EPD solutions that have been
placed historically, apply similar growth metrics, and estimate the EPD to MFP
attachment rate. We are most likely to discover a modest 5 percent attachment
rate. In short, the market is in its infancy.

Dealer Opportunities and Success Factors

The opportunities for a dealer can best be described in one word: incremental.

Whether measured by units, revenue or margin ratios to MFPs placed, or some
other sales productivity metric, the results are substantial. In other words,
simply leveraging existing structures, skills and compensation programs will
yield incremental results.

With that being said, however, it is wrong to think that by simply making an EPD
offering available, it will deliver the desired return. Like any new product or
strategy introduction, executing a well designed plan is the crux to success.
Listed below are a few key success factors to consider when developing your
go-to-market plan:

Culture – From the top down, there needs to be a clear understanding of
the value of the offering, and more importantly, the market it addresses—paper
distribution. Executive buy-in is not just a good idea, it is a cornerstone of
achievement. If they don’t get behind it, you won’t get the maximum impact.

Product – There are many EPD products on the market to offer your
customers. Choose wisely. Each has price models and features that can be
considered advantageous. I have found the eCopy (www.ecopy.com) and EFI SendMe (www.efi.com)
applications to be right at the top of the heap. There are also OEM products
such as Canon’s Universal Send and Ricoh’s Global Scan.

The obvious advantage the eCopy and EFI applications have over the OEM products
is they are both open architectures that work with machines from manufacturers
such as Xerox, HP and Kyocera Mita. Not only that, eCopy and EFI are extremely
easy to use and user intuitive where the other product engines require more
training, more support and more steps.

But don’t take my word for it. Evaluate the applications based on your
pre-defined key objectives. Just make sure to watch out for engine
compatibility. Some MFP manufacturers have architected their engines such that
they do not allow for GUI (Graphic User Interface)-less TWAIN drivers and/or
remote-scan initiation.

Remote-scan Initiation – Lacking this architecture will most likely
require a multiple step process, whereby the user must first engage the engine,
then the EPD solution. They might have to scan the document and put it into a
repository of sorts, where the EPD solution can then obtain the image.
Remote-scan initiation automatically scans without touching anything on the
engine. Both eCopy and EFI’s applications have this capability.

User Experience – The product must be easy to learn, train, install, and
support. With an easy-to-use, intuitive interface, the user will require less
training and realize a faster ROI. For the dealer, this means quicker adoption
by the sales representatives, which leads to quicker sales, as well as a
reduction of typical profit draining activities like continual training and

Programs – Like anything else, you get out what you put in. Don’t stop at
product and pricing. Build an internal awareness campaign at your dealership.
Remember, you already have the structure and head count in place. Populate your
administrative areas, as well as your demonstration rooms. Then roll-out a fun
contest-based training program.

Define your objectives to create excitement, all while focusing on having every
executive, management, administrative, and field-based employee be trained on
the basics of the application, which should be provided by the software
provider. You will discover that the quicker you create awareness, the quicker
you raise competency, which leads to a higher frequency of the sales force
articulating the value to the customer.

Sales Focus – Don’t be fooled by the proposition of satisfying a specific
customer’s niche needs. Focus 90 percent of the sales activities on
critical-mass opportunities—a cost-effective and productive alternative to the
customer’s current paper distribution processes. Incrementally grow the revenue
capture per MFP selling opportunities by driving value into your core
engagement. Profitable niche application-based selling opportunities will pop-up
along the way.

Rich Piper is the owner of CT Development, an Arizona-based consultancy
focused on assisting document-based technology companies with go-to-market
strategies. He has over 16 years of experience in the industry that has included
down-the-street analog copier sales to directing software-based product
development and management. Rich can be contacted at Rich.piper@cox.net.


WebinarCase Studies and White PapersSand Exchange Blog

imageSource Magazine Quick Links
Upcoming Events
ITEX Expo & Conference
©2015 Questex, LLC. All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited
Please send any technical comments or questions to our webmaster