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Top 10 Industry Trends

6 Mar, 2008 By: John Mancini imageSource

Top 10 Industry Trends

I was hoping that my “top 10” list for imageSource readers of trends
affecting the imaging and document industry wouldn’t have any competition. Well
it seems like David Letterman is back on the air with his “top 10” lists, so now
I have some competition.  But I will proceed fearlessly anyway.

We spend a lot of time at AIIM (www.aiim.org)
talking to users and potential end users of document and content management
technologies. But more importantly, we spend a lot of time listening to them. 
And so based on my “listening” of the past couple of months, here are the top 10
trends that I think are important for the copier dealer/distributor channel over
the next 12-18 months: 

1. The entry of Microsoft SharePoint as a serious player in the document and
records infrastructure marketplace.  This is one of the most important
developments in evangelizing these technologies that we have ever seen.
Suppliers and consultants will debate what MOSS can do and what it can’t.  But
it won’t matter; it will spread like kudzu through the end user community. 

2. The entry of “alternative” delivery systems for document and content
capabilities.  Specifically the entry of meaningful SaaS players (for example,
Spring CM) and Open Source players (for example, Alfresco).

3. Document and content management supplier consolidation driven by the
movement of ECM to the infrastructure stack.  Enough said.

4. Trend #1, #2, and #3 add up to a dramatic decline in a collapsing price
point for core document functionality at the desktop.  As a result, the market
is exploding in two directions – across large organizations and into the
mid-sized market.  From a cost vs. functionality perspective, this is the golden
age of end users.  But we need to remember that the part of the industry focused
on large organizations that need to integrate and standardize on an ECM
infrastructure is vastly different than the part of the industry typical at the
low end that simply is looking for a better solution to paper and/or a mess of
network drives.

5. The renaissance of capture.  As the market expands into mid-sized
organizations, there is untold untapped opportunity in organizations still
reliant on paper processes. The expanding use of multi-function devices as
access points to document systems creates all sorts of opportunities for
solution providers.  But solution providers need to get out of the mindset that
this is still a hardware business or a hardware sale.  It ain’t.

6. The rise in importance of the channel and solution providers.  As the core
technologies become viewed more as infrastructure, the capabilities of those who
actually deliver and implement solutions becomes critical.

7. An accelerating need for quantifiable best practices in the user
community.  Why does every implementation seem to sound like it is starting from
scratch? Haven’t we all collectively learned something that can be documented
and shared without paying some consultant a ton of money? Is there some role
that a magazine like imageSource can play in helping to aggregate all these end
user successes?

8. The blurring of technology lines.  What does your business need? Copiers?
Scanners? Records management? Content management?  Document management? Business
process management?  E-mail management?  Most likely, all of the above in some
configuration. And the solution providers who can help end users figure out the
appropriate configuration – they won’t all be the same – will find end users
racing to their door.

9. Increasing tensions between control and access.  There are more and more
ways to create, print and distribute information.  Trying to control everything
will be a frustrating task. This will be exacerbated by the increasing power of
search tools and the entry of younger workers into our workforces. The pendulum
has been on the" control” side of the document management world for a while;
it’s now on the move.

10. A need to connect in new ways. End users need to find each other and
learn from each other more than ever.

I think the changes we have seen in this marketplace over the past few years
– both in terms of the composition of the vendor community and the scale of
implementations within the user community – are just the tip of the iceberg.

AIIM will be focusing on three things in the next few years to address these
challenges.  First, we will provide core information in more places to educate
those who have not yet even considered these technologies and draw them into our
community.  The best place to start is on the AIIM web site –
www.aiim.org.  Second, we will expand our
world-class training based on best practices (www.aiim.org/training)
to reduce the implementation timeline for organizations.  And third, we will
seek to quantify user success and best practices so that deployment of a
solution need not start from square one each and every time. 

New times require new thinking.  The successful copier dealers and
distributors over the next ten years will be those who do not think of
themselves as selling copiers, but as providers of solutions to the very real
and challenging document-centered problems facing end users.  In a market
characterized by the above ten trends, it is useful to keep in mind the words of
Japan’s leading entrepreneur, Kazuo Inamori:  “Too many people think only of
their own profit. But business opportunity seldom knocks on the door of
self-centered people. No customer ever goes to a store merely to please the

John Mancini is President of AIIM.  AIIM is the community that provides
education, research, and best practices to help organizations control
information and maximize its value.  For information on trends within the
document space, see his blog at
(you can even subscribe to the blog via e-mail!).

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