Paperless Office is Far Away for India Inc : Luis Wasserman,Scantron

Yogesh Gupta October 12, 2015
Paperless Office is Far Away for India Inc : Luis Wasserman,Scantron

Issues like connected infrastructure, complexity of document transfer and security hacks has pushed ‘paperless office’ reality by atleast  five years, says Luis D. Wasserman, Scantron.

A provider of assessments, analytics and technology services Scantron - present in over 68 countries – is evangelising India market to latch on this big opportunity. “It is however not an easy route due to limited bandwidth, security hacks and other roadblocks for companies to go ‘paperless’. We are enabling organizations to measure and improve their effectiveness with assessment and survey solutions built on our products and value-added services,” said Luis D. Wasserman, Associate Vice President – International, Scantron on a recent India visit.

Excerpts from the interview.

What are the modern trends in the printing and scanning industry and do those differ for India market? 

In the past decade or so, we have been receiving the same comments from most of the people that paper is dying and all industries are moving to online. We recently made presentation to the ministry of education in Japan, Chile and Columbia about our solutions’ value proposition of transition from paper based testing to computer based testing.

The data capture and testing technology has been pushed more from political mandate than the technology readiness. In April 2015 we had large sessions of computer testing in primary and secondary institutions in US. Around 12 states faced several issues like inability to log into tests, broadband issues, hacking issues. The required infrastructure and complexity of transferring all assessments online in not that easy. There is still three to five years for the technology to become more sophisticated. 

Some areas of printing industry will definitely adopt computerized processing like document registrations on our solutions due to colossal data and bi directional information. But when it comes to formative assessments and diagnostic testing, most of ECS implementation still happens on paper.

We have many opportunities across international markets like Turkey this year has been one of the largest markets for us. Also countries like japan, Saudi are adapt our technologies. The roadblock is to overcoming questions about technology and uncertainty about the transition. The managers inclined to move online think twice about investing in these technologies that still use few paper –based components. We are pretty sure that paper will exist for 5 to 7 years across enterprises.

That mean the hybrid mode of paper plus online will still be popular and prevalent.

I think that’s where the industry is going and that’s where we made some of our recommendations. Initially there should be some pilot and beta testing on moving some processes. Because we are not going to say that there are not benefits from logistics perspective, from making changes when once you print in paper, you are done, some security issues still exist.  The idea of completely paperless office or completely paperless location system is very far-stretched.

People don’t acknowledge the idea of equipping the100 people with tablets. There is always someone who will lose the power charger and brings the tablet. Lot of issue with security, lot of issues with internet connection, lots of issue with bandwidth. It requires lot of infrastructure. Specifically training people on how to change to this new culture of paperless office and how to change. It is still very difficult.

Any fear factors you see by CIOs in India Inc. as they go ‘digitization’ route or become ‘paperless’ organization?

India Inc. leads ahead in cutting edge technologies and innovation, but there are SMBs in transition phase. There is lot of knowledge and high amount of information to learn by the executives. But many feel that online process means lesser control of management system and people would not be able to understand the workings.

A common perception being mechanized processes lead to people losing their jobs. Our technology streamlines the data or information job for companies without replacing the employees. Another fear factor is learning beyond the scope of work. Being a new technology, the people running the business often have lesser knowledge than the people working for them. Also their team has not been trained enough to move from paper to paperless. We are evangelizing the market through our partner ecosystem in India.

Scantron globally works with forty eight plus ministries of education and undertakes big government projects. Which are other favored verticals?

As a data capture company, our technology converts anything into a multiple choice questionnaire or anything that could be captured from document automatically. Hence we cater to a broad spectrum of industries including increased trend with organizational climate surveys and companies into industrial safety inspections.

Amongst the list of successful cases, hospitality as a big segment. One of largest restaurant chains in Philippines recently deployed Scantron’s complete solution wherein the managers, employees take the survey from all customers attending the restaurant. The results are uploaded into online customized solution that report real time information to the restaurant management at store level, district level and country level. This creates an evaluation matrix to execute business strategy in future.

Healthcare is a strong segment with digitization of high volumes of patients’ documents and other hospital records. And then few largest of our customers globally are in the commercial segment including one of the largest bakery in Japan executing records of order entering using our BEA technology.

You mean verticals which deals with data or big data.

Wherever there is something (data) to be captured or wherein the companies need recurring information for future analysis and understand customer behaviors.

One important factor for the companies becomes the possessing the hard copy of a record. Because when they go digital, they need to have a record of that online process. The paper is that record. Many a times after digitization (online) of large amount of data, the location is unknown at most times. The auditable document helps them to know the origin of information.

What catalysts are driving the industry – which Scantron caters to - at large?

Compliance is one of the most important factors driving our industry. Especially in US, there are lot of regulations driven by OSHA (Occupational safety and health administration). Basically, when you have proof of documented processes or Industrial safety where you measure rate of accidents in the factory. Whenever there is liability or accidents you have a track record and also adhering to some standards. This also minimizes the risk factor for such companies. In many countries, that’s what drives lot of our business.

We have couple of solutions across mining sectors in Chile, Peru. Especially after few big accidents that occurred in those geographies. Countries leverage these opportunities though technology to improve some of the processes. Natural disaster recovery also speeds such iniativies. In a mining project in Peru, each day when each one comes out of the mine to fill industrial safety, they have a dashboards with flags. In case of condition change, the manager can take appropriate actions to ensure minimal risk to the miners.

We also work with largest car manufacturing company in the world wherein after six months, the company sends information package for commuters to submit ratings about the vehicle.

Most of our business is driven by compliance, tragedies and companies attempting to improve their processes. But there is enough demand that is market-driven, market research from various verticals.

Doesn’t online data capture or moving to cloud pose security issue for most organizations?

Many of our solutions are customized for the end users. In most cases, some are on cloud while some are online. In many verticals, the prime concern is minimizing the exposure to outside hacking especially across some projects with ministry of education. You do not want a situation of a 15 year old kid learning computing and also hacking into his or her grades or exams. That’s a big challenge.

From a space perspective, it’s a game of calculation and understanding each project depending on the management of images and quantity of data.  Number of servers, type and size of images, color or gray scale printing and these factors are considered to suggest an optimum route (on premise or cloud) to the customer.

From the last round of examination in US, we understood that hacking will always remain an issue. It is one of the downfalls of highly complex projects that often become default target for hacking. It is proportional to importance of project.


Yogesh Gupta is executive editor at IDG Media. You can reach him at yogesh_gupta@idgindia.com or follow @yogsyogi1

 

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