The image capture market encompasses so many applications: cameras, digital copiers, imaging equipment, scanners and more. These applications are now ubiquitously applied in mission-critical roles across different industries, including healthcare, entertainment, finance, government and many more. There is no doubt the image capture market is booming. One market seeing such successes is the document management market. Are there any likely trends to emerge or grow far faster within document management to close out 2014?

A continual improvement in optical device products, more advanced algorithms and cloud computing has truly ushered in an era of innovative imaging applications. They include advanced video conferencing from smartphones to conference rooms, camera applications, face detection technologies, barcode recognition and, of course, document imaging and management. Specifically for document management applications, enterprise content management (ECM) continues to be a booming market. Its success is easily explained because more and more organizations are seeking to shift from paper-based to digital document workflows.

One research firm estimate pegs the ECM market will blossom from $4.4 billion in 2012 to more than $7.5 billion in 2016. Those employed within the image capture market understand there is a transformative feeling going on. Image capture is truly changing the way people live and communicate at home. It’s also transforming the workplace with higher efficiency and performance in day-to-day workflows and communication. Four trends will continue this transformation to close out 2014.
The ECM market will blossom from $4.4 billion in 2012 to more than $7.5 billion in 2016.

1. It’s still all about mobile

The mobile market will close out 2014 by emerging as the new battlefield for document image capture and management. By one analyst’s estimate in 2013, mobile workers carried on average three devices–tablets, laptops, smartphones, phablets, etc. Businesses will come to better learn how to leverage mobile for image capturing. The banking industry is one example of how image capture can transform an industry. Almost everyone uses a mobile app now to snap a picture of a check for deposit. In fact, the Federal Reserve reported this year more than half (51%) of smartphone owners have used mobile banking in the past year. Another interesting find in the report was that 39% of people who made point-of-sale mobile payments did so by scanning a barcode.

Virtually, every industry must at the very least evaluate what the combination of image capture and the mobile market can do for them. To this end, we are likely to see a boom in programmers and enterprises implementing mobile image capture solutions. Look for a plethora of new business image capture solutions throughout 2015 as a result.

2. Yes, even more powerful mobile cameras

Since the day the first smartphone emerged, there was at least one built-in camera within it. Nowadays, almost every smartphone has two built-in cameras. There’s often a front-facing camera, usually for video conferencing or ever-popular selfies. And, of course there is the back-facing camera for typical photography. Manufacturers keep upgrading their camera hardware and software, practically with every new device version. In fact, one can easily argue image capture is the single-largest competitive differentiator in smartphones today.

Using mobile devices, non-professionals are capable of shooting pictures with high enough quality for most applications and use diverse effects for their images. State-of-the-art components that used to be reserved for professional cameras are finding their way onto smartphones. For example, image stabilization on mobile devices takes photography from a smartphone to new heights.

We’re even seeing the use of RAW image formats for even higher quality. This allows for new post-processing possibilities. Now more than ever, developers can leverage applications to forge mobile devices to scanners. Compared to traditional scanners, mobile image capture solutions are more suitable in many cases: business card scanning, receipt saving, barcode reading and so forth. Look for even more applications that also leverage image processing and recognition algorithms for greater enterprise use.
The Federal Reserve reported this year more than half (51%) of smartphone owners have used mobile banking in the past year.

3. More advances in image processing and recognition

Image capture technology is not only for image acquisition and viewing. More and more, cutting-edge graphics algorithms aim to mine useful information from captured images. Big data and image capture will be key selling points for any document management solution. Image capture and the mining or usefulness of metadata will be important. As more and more organizations turn to digital document management, they’ll expect big data alongside. Metadata’s role is now shifting. It’s no longer just for categorizing or identifying digital documents. It must now be leveraged for competitive data advantages too.

Barcodes, especially QR Codes, have been widely deployed in shops, restaurants, etc. They are leveraged by customers for anything from gathering basic information about a place or thing to applying coupons to a purchase. But such a process is still difficult to imagine in many key industries, for example, healthcare and government. Look for new solutions to emerge here. The day is coming when doctors can regularly diagnose patients via a video chat. The day is coming when all patient records are stored in barcodes.

We know tons of information will need to be stored and managed via image capture. Thus, we will see new approaches to data storage and management to break through the limitations of a local disk that still hampers these industries.

4. Bigger data storage and smarter management

Anyone that debated whether cloud computing would catch on can no longer debate it. It’s here in all its glory, and its limitations and flaws too. More and more companies are building cloud services with a new business model: limited space for free and extra space for a fee. But a cloud service is much more than just remote storage. For example, with OCR technology, like Microsoft OneDrive has, a cloud service can index uploaded images and easily find them within the cloud. In a way, today’s cloud is almost as good at running powerful applications that were previously reserved only for desktop installations.

However, security will continue to be a concern. The recent Apple iCloud breach didn’t help either. So, a concern for greater security will continue to emerge. Look for the rest of 2014 to be about ensuring security in image capture applications that leverage cloud storage. And this isn’t just during storage–many applications will demand the highest security even during upload/download transmissions.

Image capture solutions rely on so many factors. They include the devices to implement captures, image processing and recognition algorithms, broadband speed, cloud services, security and more. Now, mobile image capture solutions are challenging traditional applications and methods for accomplishing tasks. More organizations will adopt image capture for all types of document and file management in addition to enhanced information mining. There is no longer an industry that cannot benefit from image capture applications within their workflow.

Rachel Jia is currently technical marketing manager at Dynamsoft, a provider of web and .NET imaging SDKs and version control solutions. In addition to her marketing experience, she also has five years of customer service and technical support experience. This includes having worked with customers from different industries–healthcare, finance, government and more on document management application development.

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