Companies are turning in droves to Microsoft's SharePoint platform, quickly recognizing the benefits of a system that enables better collaboration and document workflows, and therefore improving information worker productivity and efficiency. However, many processes and workflows require information that's available only in paper documents. I recently spoke with Bill Brikiatis, Director of Corporate Marketing for eCopy www.ecopy.com, one of a handful of companies providing solutions to integrate paper-based documents into an organization's digital workflows. Its eCopy ShareScan product, used with various connectors on a networked multifunction peripheral (MFP), lets you scan and send documents to desktops, networks, fax machines, email, or enterprise back-end application. One such connector, the eCopy Connector for Microsoft SharePoint, lets users quickly bring paper directly into the electronic world of collaborative software.

"What sets us apart from most of our competitors, is that we target the average office worker," said Brikiatis. "Document imaging software has traditionally been used by what I would call a power user, whose sole job is to digitize documents. Instead, the people who use eCopy would be the person in the accounting department or ad department." This helps eliminate the bottleneck of centralized scanning and gets the information quickly into the hands of authorized information workers.

Basically, an office worker walks up to an eCopy-enabled MFP, places the document on the glass scanning surface, and presses a button on the display panel. The user then navigates to the SharePoint repository in which he or she wants to store the document, and the document will be scanned and digitally stored in the SharePoint location of choice. Because eCopy authenticates against Active Directory (AD), the user will have SharePoint rights and permissions based on his or her AD account.

SharePoint Connector also lets you encrypt documents, as well as create searchable text so that when the document is stored in SharePoint, the text is indexed into its search engine. Without that capability, some documents (e.g., PDFs) are simply image files and thus not searchable. And because eCopy ShareScan and eCopy Connector for SharePoint work seamlessly with existing Microsoft technologies, use a familiar UI, and present information in a familiar format, little training is required, leading to easier and faster adoption of the technologies.