Panasonic Updates Status of B2B Transition, Document-Scanner Strategy, More

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Panasonic Corporation North America’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey.

On May 1st, Panasonic Systems Communications Corporation of North America held an analysts’ meeting previewing new document scanners and outlining Panasonic’s strategy.

Panasonic – which this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary – held the event at its headquarters in new headquarters in Newark, New Jersey. Some may recall that Panasonic North America previously was located in Secaucus, New Jersey, but it announced that it was moving its headquarters to Newark back in 2011. The firm had also announced back in 2013 that it was exiting the A3 copier/MFP market (but not the A4 printer/All-in-One market).

Joeseph Odore, product manager for Panasonic document scanners, began the conference with an outline of Panasonic’s history in the document-scanner market.

The year 1993 marked when Panasonic first began selling document scanners, with that KV-F51, a unique system that combined a document scanner, PC, and printer.

Since 1993, key features that Panasonic has added to its document-scanner lineup have included ultrasonic-scanning technology, card-feeding, self-cleaning technology, re-scan technology, and color scanning. Panasonic introduced its first production scanner in the early 2000s.

Now, in the last three to four years, Panasonic has been focusing on business-to-business (B2B) products, and no longer on retail products. Its scanner product line ranges from personal scanners to production scanners capable of scanning 100,000 pages per day, all available exclusively through a closed channel of authorized Panasonic resellers. Currently, according to Odore, Panasonic’s most popular scanners are its KV-S1027C and KV-1057C.

Odore provided us with a look at what Panasonic scanners will be focused on in the near future: “When we look at the future of document scanning, it’s networking and the cloud. We’re really looking at connected products.”

This summer, Panasonic will be introducing direct scanning to the cloud; SSL/TLS encryption; user authorization; and access control. It’s also working on more connections to third-party software.

Panasonic’s Odore also commented on Panasonic’s overall strategy with its document scanners: “We’re really trying to shift to developing package solutions for our customers with a mix of hardware and software…We’re moving to full customization for vertical markets such as government and education. Along with Panasonic scanners is its Freeze Ray, an optical data archiver, with a massive data-storage capacity of 300 GB per disk. (Visit Panasonic here for more information.)

Odore also noted that by 2020, Panasonic should have networking capability for all of its scanners. It will also be supporting TWAIN Direct. Last but not least, is Panasonic’s emphasis on support and partnership with customers; for instance, Panasonic provides a three-year warranty for its scanners.

The strategy is part of Panasonic’s overall strategy of shifting away from retail products to B2B products, such as Panasonic scanners, ToughPad notebooks, tablets and laptops, and projectors, LDC displays, and business telephones. These B2B products are sold through a closed channel of authorized Panasonic resellers, which include the BTA channel as well as value-added resellers (VARs), with service and software licensees providing recurring revenue for resellers.  Some Panasonic scanners are available on Amazon, but they must adhere to Panasonic’s MAP (minimally advertised price).

Panasonic’s available software solutions include two solutions from partner CVision Technologies: Premier OCR (provides optical character recognition for converting scanned documents in text-editable files) and Premier Compression (compresses files up to 90 percent for more efficient file storage). Panasonic includes a complimentary trial version for compressing up to 7,500 images.

From partner Square 9, also available is Square 9 Softworks, an advanced document-capture and workflow solution for enterprise content management. Both on-premise and cloud versions are available and feature support global capture, global convey, global search and customizable foundation “templates” for a variety of workflow solutions.

New Mobile Scanning

Panasonic will also be introducing its Image Capture Mobile app for scanning to mobile smartphones and tablets. Users can search for and locate the Panasonic scanner from their mobile device, and then scan documents back to their mobile device. From their mobile device, they can then send to email, the cloud, document repositories, and printers. The app will be available at the Apple App Store and at Google Play.

CVision Technologies

Panasonic’s Analyst Day featured two speakers, one of whom was Tim Jeffries, sales and channel manager at CVision Technologies, which provides CVision’s Premier OCR and Premier Compression for Panasonic scanners.

Jeffries explained that CVision, which was acquired by Foxit, a developer of PDF solutions, in 2017, has a mission of helping companies manage overwhelming numbers of documents, and that CVision is seeking to innovate the PDF, for instance, to develop more secure documents. CVision, which began partnering with Panasonic in 2016, announced earlier this year that it’s software would be paired with all Panasonic scanners sold in North America.

Square 9 Softworks

Steve Young, president and CEO of Square 9 Softworks, explained that Square 9 has been working with Panasonic for close to two years, noting, “We’re trying to re-define the notion of (document) capture…and the reach of capture.”

Square 9 began operating 2001, providing integration services for office-equipment companies, developing tools for companies like Sharp and Kofax – tools, that, according to Young, “help a copier be more like a production scanner….We started with ECM (enterprise content management) and then went into business-process solutions”

Young noted that information is no longer coming into business processes just from hardcopy documents – it’s also coming in from new sources such as Web-submission forms.

And he noted that while document-capture via a copier/MFP is typically suitable for ad hoc scanning, it’s not necessarily viable for scanning hundreds (and sometimes more) of documents – as the MFP typically requires users to stand for long periods of time when scanning, and tying up the MFP for print and copy. Documents scanned with MFPs also typically generate much larger file sizes. Among the things that’s drawn Square 9 to partner with Panasonic is Panasonic scanner image quality: “It all starts with a quality image and that’s what Panasonic brings us.”

And, overall, while generating high-quality images is key, “The real value is being to mine and extract information from documents,” for example, extracting information from Quick Books. “We’re trying to extend the footprint of capture,” noted Young, who says Square 9 is working with Panasonic to extend scanning to extracting data from Web-form submissions, email, and shared app data, and to move content to the cloud. According to a recent survey, some 24 percent of companies are using some form of cloud ECM or document management.

A new Square 9 product, GlobalSearch 2,  provides direct scanning to the cloud through a Web-based TWAIN driver, and is supported by the full line of Panasonic scanners. It includes standardized templates for vertical segments, as well as templates for common business applications, such as those found in a human-resources department.

Panasonic will be introducing new document scanners on May 15th, so stay tuned.

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