I recently had the occasion to meet with several banks who are contemplating, in the course of implementing, or have gone live with the capture of documents in their branches. For reference, in a recent Celent survey, the number of banks indicating they were highly likely to replace/refresh core system over the next 3-5 years jumped from 17% in 2010 to 24% in 2012. Credit unions responded similarly, nearly doubling from 13% to 24%. Each of these implementations is unique, as they reflect the different cultures of the banks involved, as well as specific business and IT issues.
Nevertheless, the migration of document capture from central locations to branches has some universal themes tying all these implementations together. Compared to "traditional," high-volume, centralized scanning, branch capture may herald the future. Here's why I think that and what the implications of the transition are...
20+ years ago when the document capture business got started - it wasn't even called "document capture" then, "forms processing" was the preferred name - it was all about bulk processing. Documents were being brought together anyway, so instead of keying data from them, we helped customers scan them and use recognition to automate the keying of data, or capture of data (as in "Datacap").
The focus of centralized scanning is batch efficiency. Larger batches means less overhead between batches. Some customers take this to the natural extreme of "continuous scanning." In that scenario, fast, high-volume scanners are kept working constantly. Rather than having an operator scan a batch, then stop and put it to the side while loading a new batch in the scanner, multiple batches are loaded together with only a batch separator sheet between them. The software takes care of the details in the background.
Branches don't have the kind of volume that necessitates continuous scanning, or even necessarily have "batches" that consist of many pages. Typically in a branch a "batch" is just a single transaction with a customer, perhaps an account application form, ID card, or other documents that are associated with one customer. And, of course, there may be lots of these batches, not necessarily at any one location, but from all the branch locations of a bank.
So one characteristic of branch capture is small batches, but lots of them!
Not only are the batches small, but there is a completely different dynamic associated with processing them. After all, the customer is waiting for the teller or bank officer to respond to what they just submitted to them. In contrast to most bulk scanning operations where processing times of a few hours are considered not only acceptable, but big steps forward in efficiency, with a customer drumming their fingers on the counter, branch capture has a near real-time requirement. 30 seconds, a minute, maybe two, but longer than that and people start to get impatient.
Branch capture systems have to be tuned for very snappy turnaround. Reduce the already short time to process a document and the branch quickly acquires a new customer or retains an existing one with higher satisfaction. Make them wait, and... the negative consequences are immediate!
Capturing lots of small batches remotely with minimum latency puts new demands on a capture system, including the time it takes to transfer images for centralized processing and then to make them available to the branch user to complete a transaction.
But I don't think this is something that is going to be limited to the branch banking. By processing customer documents, while the customer is there in person, any business can improve customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction. You can never get enough of those metrics!
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