To SharePoint product managers, everything is content. An image, a file, an email. It’s all content, and content that needs to be stored. It’s hard even outside of the enterprise content management community to find a technology conversation that does not mention SharePoint. SharePoint is huge, and with the looming SharePoint 2010 release it promises to be even greater.
The latest updates to SharePoint are looking more and more like a fully functional content management system, with one exception, they focus on the general use only. Microsoft’s methodology on the product is to create the functionality that everyone requires and leave the reset to the users or partners. One such feature that is not the general is imaging and OCR. While this would not be the first time that I saw Microsoft indicate they would not delve into an arena, only a few years later finding them as a threat in it. I believe that Microsoft at this point will not invest much development in the imaging, data capture, and OCR functionality to SharePoint.
While there are several imaging packages out there that do export directly to SharePoint, they all share the primary problem of supporting newer versions. When SharePoint 2010 comes out, it means substantial development for these vendors to improve their products. With the current economic situation I expect many to refuse.
The good news is the number of hot-folder driven conversion applications that exist is high, and how hot-folders integrate nicely with all applications makes them an ideal solution. Utilizing an existing imaging or OCR platform as a server based watch folder process allows companies to integrate OCR and data capture functionality into SharePoint in a day simply by having the documents converted prior to an upload.
SharePoint is not going away, and the need to get searchable images into the system is clear. Until the time Microsoft decides to invest money here, it’s time to find a stable, and scalable way to OCR documents prior to SharePoint import.
Chris Riley – AboutFind much more about document technologies at www.cvisiontech.com.