Imaging and the Internet

More and more businesses are considering ways to integrate document imaging systems with their growing investment in the Internet, industry officials say. If sustained over time, the trend will likely offer opportunities for vendors and integrators.

"A lot of commercial companies and some federal agencies are beginning to see that the combination of the Internet and document imaging has some customer service benefits," said Bill Burke, president of Diamondhead Software. "Some of them are looking into how they might offer captured images over the Internet on an external basis, and some are [determining] whether their images might be something that people are willing to pay to look at. It's a way to enhance their relations with customers, but also another way to justify the expense of an imaging system and get a quicker return on investment."

Some companies are already testing the waters. Viewstar, for instance, recently released a product that allows users to access their image repository from a Web browser. Others are developing Web browser access to work flow products that are installed in conjunction with imaging systems.

Roger Sullivan, vice president of marketing for Keyfile Corp., noted that the U.S. Navy, which uses his company's product, Keyflow, as part of the Sea Wolf project, is already using the Internet to run a work flow and document management application across multiple sites. "When an engineering change order is initiated at the building site, for example, that order is sent to Navy headquarters in Washington for approval and the image runs over the Internet," he said. "So that's a successful intranet program that is working successfully."

Still, there remain several security and performance concerns that must be addressed, according to Burke. "You can take an imaging system that is primarily intended to be deployed internally and put a subset of those images on a subscription server, where clients can get on their Web browser and pull down issues," he explained. "But the primary issue is: How can I expose my imaging server to my Web server so I have adequate security and performance? The technology issue will probably be easier to solve than the security one, but there is a lot of work being done on that."

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