Studies show that interest in imaging is expanding rapidly, and that two major trends are converging to lead businesses to pursue SharePoint document imaging solutions. First is the general recognition by companies that paper-based processing is seriously hobbling their business and that the condition can be relieved by document imaging.

Second is the widespread adoption of SharePoint and the heightened interest in extending SharePoint investments, which is being further stoked by the impending release of SharePoint 2013.

A recent AIIM study found that SharePoint was installed in 70% of the businesses surveyed. The study, entitled “The SharePoint Puzzle – Adding the Missing Pieces,” showed that more than one-half of respondents feel they could be 50% more productive with enhanced workflow, search, information reporting, and automated document creation tools, and that add-ons including scanning and capture and case management would produce significant productivity improvements of 25% or more.

What is holding companies back, the AIIM findings found, is the complexity of extending SharePoint. “From a business perspective,” said AIIM, “the lack of strategic planning for how to make the best use of SharePoint is a major concern for organizations, as are lack of expertise to get the best out of the platform, and a shortage of resources to enhance it.”

The answer to the problem is to employ third-party specialists to enhance SharePoint, which, AIIM explains, is what Microsoft intended. Fielding a base platform that was extensible via third-party plug-in components was an approach unique to the time, says AIIM, and a realization early on by Microsoft that it did not have all of the pieces to complete the SharePoint jigsaw.

For applications like image processing, AIIM advises organizations to employ third-party specialists to extend SharePoint rather than relying on in-house customization, which AIIM says, while understandable, “is not the best practice advice, given the support issues with custom development of any type.”

Meanwhile, a number of studies show that interest in document imaging in all environments is increasing as businesses recognize the endemic problems associated with paper-based processing and the benefits that document imaging brings.

An Oce Business Services study found that document imaging, in particular, was regarded favorably by executives for significant benefits it offered for reducing costs and improving operational efficiency. The study found that organizations want to take advantage of document imaging to achieve faster, more efficient access to data and to reduce the cost and space associated with storing paper-based documents.

Likewise, a First to File survey found that intellectual property professionals are moving in increasing numbers to implement document management solutions for three major reasons:

• Better organization, efficiency, and security.

• Increased visibility and ease of access.

• Elimination of paper.

Finally, a PayStream Advisors study reported a “surge toward adoption” of invoice automation systems, with almost 80 percent of the 300 executives it surveyed saying they had either already launched an invoice automation initiative or planned to within a year. The giant surge in the percentage of companies using front-end imaging solutions, said the report, suggests a sea change in accounts payable business processes.

What all these studies show is that the movement to imaging is reaching critical mass, including imaging in SharePoint environments.

For more information on SharePoint and document imaging, read this whitepaper.