Brother has launched a handful of new desktop scanners for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that help unite paper-based business processes with today's mobile work styles.
The paperless office, despite some valiant efforts, has yet to fully materialize for many small businesses. Workers still end the work day with toner-stained fingers after spending hours handling contracts, legal documents and a wide range of forms. "Certain industries have a higher propensity for hard copy documents that need scanning," Steve Feldstein, director of marketing for Brother SMB laser and scanning products, told Small Business Computing. Two such examples include healthcare and government agencies.
Document Management Goes Mobile in Cloud
Meanwhile, many small businesses are under pressure to digitize, centralize, and monetize the information held within those stacks of dead tree. Plus, they need access to it while they're on the road.
"The top SMB priorities for 2015 are cloud, mobility and collaboration," said Feldstein. In particular, "people want to scan documents to different cloud repositories," he added, citing the growing popularity of cloud-based mobile file sync-and-share services among small businesses. But they're not willing to skimp on quality.
The Brother small business ADS-2500we desktop scanner.
For example, the Brother ADS-2500We scanner carries Kofax certification, revealed Feldstein. The high-end image processing technology not only optimizes scans to ensure that documents look their best when they're turned into digital files, but also "makes sure that [a scanned] document can be integrated into a workflow."
Like their bigger corporate cousins, some small and midsized firms look for tools that allow them to "kick off a workflow process" and automate tasks that could otherwise consume valuable work hours, said Feldstein. Getting the nod from Kofax, in addition to other workflow-enhancing capabilities, means less time shuffling paper and more time getting things done, he said.
For small business owners, the fewer hours lost to data entry translates into more customer interactions and activities that grow revenues. Performance-wise the ADS-2500We and new ADS-2000e can scan documents at a rate of 24 pages per minute.
In terms of mobile-enabled cloud collaboration, the ADS-2500We supports popular services including Microsoft OneDrive and OneNote, Google Docs, Evernote, Dropbox and Flicker. It can also be linked to email servers and configured to upload files via FTP. More services are on the horizon, courtesy of Brother Solutions Interface, the company's own software development kit (SDK). "It lets us work with third-party developers to access the Web services of the scanner," said Feldstein.
For firms with high security or regulatory compliance needs, the scanner supports Microsoft Active Directory (AD) authentication to restrict the device's functions to authorized users. No AD? No problem, said Feldstein.
Brother's secure function lock technology lets SMBs essentially "do the same thing as Active Directory," he claimed. Organizations can "lock down [the scanner], either by user or workgroup, and determine what they can do on the device."
Businesses with higher scanning volumes or dedicated document management requirements can move up to the new PDS-5000 and PDS-6000. They include enhanced optical character recognition (OCR), barcode scanning support, and high-speed USB 3.0 ports. The PDS-5000 and PDS-6000 can scan documents at a rate of 60 pages per minute and 80 pages per minute, respectively.
According to Dan Waldinger, director of marketing for Brother, the new scanners help entrepreneurs unlock the value of their paper-based information. "These new desktop scanners with enhanced features and interoperability can help SMBs transform manual paper processes into easy and efficient electronic document workflows. Additionally, scanners allow customers to store data and communicate information that historically has been locked in hard-copy form," he said in a statement.
Brother ADS-2500We ($699.99) and ADS-2000e ($349.99) are available now. The PDS-5000 and PDS-6000 go on sale in April.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE
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