Kodak Alaris rides a wave of Intelligent Automation in APAC

Wee-Chong Lee has been recently appointed as Managing Director, Kodak Alaris Asia Pacific Region, based in Singapore. With this appointment, Wee-Chong is responsible for leading the Asia Pacific Sales and Business teams. IDM asked Wee-Chong to outline Kodak Alaris strategies in the booming market for intelligent capture to drive digital transformation and process automation.

IDM: Can you give an overview of Kodak Alaris’ business in the APAC region?

WCL: Our strategy has very much been in place for the past three years with a major focus on restructuring the business and bringing in new talents. Up till a couple of years ago, scanning was mainly just for simple archiving or compliance reasons, but today we're seeing more purposeful digitization, and that requires people on our side with the ability to understand customer pain points, to sell solutions together with our Alliance partners, and that's something that we have been focussing more on for the last three and a half years.

China continues to remain a key focus of ours as it generates more than 50% of our APAC business, contributing the second largest product revenue out of any country globally. This year, we strengthened our Go-to-Market presence in Japan, as Asia continues to be a main driver for revenue growth for Kodak Alaris.

We have a long heritage and are the dominant player in the Australian market with strong market leadership. We also have a strong market presence with the Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs). Australia being a very well developed and advanced market where new technologies are accepted ahead of other regions, we see that future growth in Australia coming from new kinds of digitisation to assist Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or other advanced data mining (Big Data). This is a new area where Kodak Alaris’ strength in technology and image processing becomes ever more important to ensure high reliability in post capture processing.

IDM: What has been the impact of COVID19 on Digital Transformation in 2020 and the demand for Intelligent Scanning?

WCL: I think every country will exist in a different bubble, whether its Australia, Singapore or Japan until things finally open up sometime in the next two years. But I'm also pretty confident that life will bounce back very quickly to pre COVID times the moment the vaccine is fully deployed, or at least 70% deployed.

We are now seeing a two-horse race in digitisation efforts due to COVID. The first is the traditional scan and archive market where we are now seeing that many large organisations are really accelerating their digitisation efforts. The second leg of the race requires adoption of new technology for automation rather than simple scan and archive; and this is moving a bit more slowly as people are more conservative in this area around what they are ready to deploy.

They do see the value of getting more information or more knowledge from the data that they already have and becoming more effective in the way they work but moving to the second stage requires answers to a lot of important questions: How can we future proof our technology? What are the considerations that we need to have when we adopt new digitization efforts? Should it be centralized, should it be distributed?

These are the questions that many have been asking themselves and asking our partners too. As we have been positioning ourselves for this evolution, working with alliances and partners, I believe Kodak Alaris and our partners are best adapted to help customer maximize the value of their digitalization efforts.

IDM: A new Managed Service is being offering for direct sales accounts in the US, UK and German markets. Is this being offered in the APAC region? Or are you looking to channel partners to roll this out using your New Monitoring as a Service Offerings?

WCL: Yes, we are looking at that right now and for Asia there are a couple of different go-to-market models. In countries where we have presence, we definitely can provide that as a service to our customers. So, in Australia, we have a strong service team there, and we can definitely offer this if the customer chooses. But more often than not we will always work through a partner. In the APAC region our go to market has always been a hundred percent channel, unless the customers insist for us to do it directly, then we will evaluate that.

IDM: How is the market responding to the INfuse Smart Connected Scanning Solution from Kodak Alaris, which aims to automate business processes by seamlessly connecting document capture to existing business systems and the cloud?

WCL: We have been receiving overwhelmingly positive response from customers and partners whom we have demonstrated or showcased infuse to. The immediate response is typically, “When can I get the machine to test it out?” Since we began promoting INfuse in 2019, we have a number of serious evaluations underway in every country in APAC. Australia being a mature country and more receptive to new technology, we already have a couple of customers who are using INfuse today.

It's the manifestation of what we call the IN2 ecosystem, where you don't buy a machine just for capture. It has to lead to a purposeful usage, which is automation, cloud-based invoicing or processing. This is the key differentiator of INfuse, which allows you to directly connect your systems to the cloud without having to go through a PC. More than just a scanner, centralized control, the ability to remotely reconfigure your device as your business evolves, and the ease of setting up with just a QR code. These are the three main differentiators that a lot of our customers are looking for.

IDM: With regional governments driving towards a paperless future, where do you see your business in the next few years?

WCL: I think that we will continue to see growth the next three years as businesses accelerate adoption of scan and capture solutions for both traditional capture and for new purposeful digitalization like RPA.

From a revenue perspective, the scanner market was expected to decline as organisations moved towards decentralized capture and A3 to A4 in the high volume capture market. In reality, we have experienced growth with a move towards decentralized A3 as the technology has become more cost-effective. So, we are actually seeing higher adoption of low volume A3 scanners in a distributed model.

COVID is definitely fuelling the growth in digitalization and therefore the need for more scanners. A lot of what customers are doing today is just scan and archive. They have a lot of data, but they don't know what data they have. They are now coming to realize that they can mine a lot of this data and get to know their citizens or customers better, predict consumption trends and determine what services or products they can provide to their customers. I believe we will start to see another explosion of digitization in the market with purposeful capture. In my personal view, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of market demand for digitization.

Wee-Chong joined Kodak Alaris in 2017 as Channel and Product Director for the Asia Pacific Region. Prior to Kodak Alaris, Wee-Chong has worked with NetApp, EMC, Sun Microsystems and Sterling Commerce where he held sales and leadership responsibilities. Wee-Chong also spent 10 years in the Republic of Singapore Navy in the initial part of his career. Wee-Chong earned his BSc Computer Science from UK Open University and his MSc Finance from Baruch College, City University of New York. He is also a member of Mensa International since 2009.