Have you ever had the need to edit a hard copy document and found yourself wishing you could just scan the document, convert it into a digital file and edit away on your computer?
Unless a digital copy of that document is available, the most likely scenario is that it will be marked up by hand and retyped into the computer.
Technology company Ricoh Canada Inc., announced today a new cloud platform called the Integrated Cloud Environment (ICE) which enables users to skip all that and instead directly scan paper documents to a cloud storage service where they can automatically be turned into fully editable documents. The platform is aimed at small and medium sized business (SMBs) as well as schools.
Documents sent to ICE can be accessed and printed from any location in the world via smart phone, tablet, PC or multifunction printers (MFPs) without the use of local network connections or printer drivers.
“ICE is a breakthrough for making information work,” said Eric Fletcher, vice-president of marketing for Ricoh Canada. “It’s an ideal way for cloud users to expand their capabilities and for companies to advance their bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies.”
He said with ICE scanned documents are no longer frozen as opaque image files. For example, a salesperson can scan a purchase order and have it flow directly into Salesforce.com, where it is accessible to co-workers or who needs to use the information for sales, service and support.
- Organizations don’t need to take multiple time-consuming steps to move them to the cloud.
- Customers don’t need IT staff to buy, install and manage hardware and software for document management and optical character recognition (OCR)
- Administrators don’t need to type hard copy documents into computers to make them useful.
- Mobile workers who want to print a document no longer need to email it to colleagues at workstations to have them do the printing.
Other printer vendors aside from Ricoh are delving into cloud connectivity for printing as well but with a slightly different focus.
For instance, Hewlett-Packard’s JetAdvantage Pull Print solution meant to increase security. With Pull Print, users are able to send their documents from PCs or Mac machines to the HP cloud where the data is encrypted. From there the data is passed on to the user company’s HP printers. The user needs to go to the printer and key-in their password in order to select and print the documents only they are authorized to print.
Security is also embedded into ICE. To print from any smartphone or tablet, users need to access Ricoh Print Cloud through ICE. User need to type in a six-digit code to be able to release a document. ICE data transmissions are secured by 128-bit SSL encryption. Ricoh’s storage and OCR data center is SAS 70/SSAE 16-compliant.
Ricoh said its ICE platform is also different from other systems in that it supports no less than 16 cloud services incuding Google Drive, DropBox, SharePoint and SharePoint 365, Salesforce.com and Evernote. ICE also employs an OCR engine powered by ABBYY, a leading provider of document recognition solutions. OCR helps ICE convert hard copies into searchable PDF, Word and Excel documents.
Some use case scenarios for ICE:
- A law firm can use ICE to capture and store contracts electronically and easily find them for review.
- A manufacturer can easily share marketing collateral through ICE with its distributed mobile sales force’s smartphones and tablets.
- Business travelers can scan their receipts directly to accounting software instead of stapling, packaging and mailing hard copies to their business office.
- Any worker can scan a document to any email address, automatically converting it to editable text.
Customers with Ricoh’s optional MFP browser enabled, which is available on any Ricoh MFP purchased in the last four years can add the ICE services in two parts:
- Standard ICE Module, which includes numerous free scanning Apps
- Premium Apps, that provide advanced functionality, such as mobile printing
ICE supports all major mobile platforms, including iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Palm.