We provide services for the digitization of documents. Our offer includes scanning services for documents from small sizes to A0 and even bigger. We can digitize documents that loose or documents that are bound. So in that sense, we can digitize standard A4 documents, large drawings or even bound documents, like books or registries.
In this sense, our offer is quite broad and we can handle projects that are quite complex. Practically we approach the digitization of documents as a complex process. We can scan documents, process the images, OCR and also export digital data.
Digitization of documents in eastern countries
We have seen digitization of documents be outsourced to the less developed countries of the EU. As with many other industries, outsourcing to less developed countries seems to be a trend. But is this actually taking away jobs from established companies in Western Europe? While everyone wants a clear answer, we think the truth is somewhere in the middle. We have to look at economic realities and progress made by certain countries. Also, we have to take into account that some projects would never be done otherwise. Is an eastern company taking away jobs from a western company? What is the quality level a customer expects? These are all questions we will answer in the next paragraphs. We will try to split the subject based on topics and aspects for a better understanding.
The current outsourcing model for the digitization of documents
The standard model for such projects is to find a company in Eastern Europe and to outsource the project. Based on financial and project complexity, you can fully or partially outsource it.
The big advantage in taking such a route is that the upfront savings on human resources can be quite high. Unfortunately, this is real. The economic differences between countries are still quite large. This affects workers income as well. Usually, the outsourcer is a project management company. They prepare the architecture of the project and send it for implementation. It all sounds too easy. We think it all depends on how you implement the project. The distance can sometimes be a problem. Experienced suppliers will get over it quite fine though. So, all in all, this does seem like an option.
Effects on suppliers based in western countries
If we look at things quickly, this does seem like a problem for a western supplier. Because of the real costs, he faces it will be hard to achieve certain cost factor. The human element is definitely the main topic here. Still, in this industry, you will see a lot of western suppliers running quite well. So why does this happen? Well, western suppliers live in a different economic reality. Like in all industries, the digitization of documents has to be financially feasible. Given that many suppliers are highly automated, they achieve cost savings differently. While an eastern supplier has the more affordable workforce, a western one is more automated. You will say that eastern suppliers can automate themselves too. They are, but they can always replace automation with workforce. So in reality, suppliers have learned to focus on different projects, based on their strengths.
The natural split of projects between western and eastern suppliers
This is what actually is happening now in Europe when it comes to the digitization of documents as a service. Suppliers are focusing on projects where only they can deliver. Or another supplier with the same working model. Projects that require automation are usually done by western suppliers. We have seen western suppliers doing projects in eastern countries. They begin to build strength and are highly competitive in their field. Eastern suppliers deliver projects that require a lot of manpower. As much as we would like to think everyone can do everything, sometimes numbers count. When scanning books or bound documents, automation level doesn’t influence productivity that much. So to make projects in certain time frames, you will need manpower. Such projects will have to be done quickly, or in the future, they might not be financially feasible.
Cost for projects involving digitization of documents
Another aspect of such projects is the cost. Costs for digitization of documents tend to be a project killer from the start. This is where more cost-effective providers tend to be of help. There are projects that would be impossible to do in a western country. That is simply because the customer will not afford the total cost. Such projects are usually abandoned. A western supplier will never make such a project because the revenue would be smaller than the costs. This is where eastern suppliers can be of help. They are not affecting the western supplier, as the project would not be done anyway. But they are helping the customer in making his project a reality. Western customers can build on such projects and do different related services. We don’t see it as a bidding war. It would be a shame to think of it this way.
Conclusions on the subject
- Western Suppliers have important strengths. They will still make most digitization projects in the future.
- Eastern Suppliers make it possible for certain projects to happen. Customers will abandon them from the start if they don’t meet the price criteria.
- With time and experience, transfer of know-how will make it possible for vendors to learn from each other.
- Elimination of physical borders makes these processes possible. 30 years ago this would seem impossible.
- Having suppliers from both parts of Europe, will make for more skilled workers and professionals.
- While competition is increasing, it is making more projects happen, rather than affecting vendors.
Please also look at some EU initiatives and projects, and especially check the following link regarding access to text from different media.
We also have other information on digitization and microfilm on our blog.