‘We’ve Mastered Digital Imaging’

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Susheel John

Susheel John
MD – Document Imaging, Asia Pacific Region, Kodak Alaris

We have stuck to our slogan, ‘you press button and we do the rest’, and followed that through over the years, says Susheel John in an interaction with Rachita Jha of ENN

Kodak has been in India since long. How do you find your journey here?

First of all, I would like to make a few clarifications here. Unlike the common perception, we are neither under the Kodak umbrella nor we are the Kodak company as such. We both have ‘Kodak’ common to our names — they are Eastman Kodak company and our company is Kodak Alaris. We are two business companies — one is into document imaging, which has been divested from Kodak, while Kodak is itself today focussed on commercial printing.

We focussed on what we call document imaging to help businesses and governments manage their paper document. We are not new in the document imaging segment in India. In fact, Kodak is itself some 80-90 years old company in India. It existed in various forms. We had also been into the microfilm technology. Actually, there are lots of government records that need to be stored for a long period of time in digital footprint in microfilm. We have been associated with the government in many projects, like passports, company affairs, census, Unique ID, Income tax, etc.

From our perspective, we don’t think that we have achieved the right potential yet. We are still in the early stages of implementing technology. Although there has been lots of digitisation, yet a lot of content is today created on paper, which all will go digital. So, from our point of view, we have seen just the tip of the iceberg and that there is lot more to explore in all the sectors. Kodak Alaris delivers superior systems and solutions to automate business processes, enhance customer interactions and enable better business decisions.

Any major challenge for your role in terms of sector-wise technology, which is very often overlapping?

One challenge we answer for businesses today is imaging of paper documentation, from where we capture information, digitise and put it in a manner so as to be useful for the businesses. All of that we do for our customers fast and at low costs. We have been associated with a French project for quite some time, and since they have adopted our technology, we reduced cost by 65 percent and became five times faster in terms of capturing information.

Even for simple document scanning, lots of tools have come up. How do you think you have an edge over the rivals?

We follow the slogan: you press button and we do the rest. We followed that through irrespective of whether it is for a consumer product or otherwise. That has been our motto and we do it with every product. So, we built lots of image processing technologies and tried to automate all of them, so that it is used as per usage in the backend. We developed the digital imaging technology; we are its pioneers and enabling them at a technology end-point.

“There has already been lots of digitisation, yet a lot of content is today created on paper, which all will go digital. So, from our point of view, we have seen just the tip of the iceberg”

You have worked with various departments over the years. Which segments within the government have good potential?

From the moment we work in the government, the first thing we do is to study the details. There are lots of papers with the government, and hence, I strongly believe that every department in the government has more or less good potential. If you take the case of census department, for example, they process 1.2 billion people’s records and it is a huge quantity of records that needs to be processed in a short period of time. To overcome that challenge, they adopted the technology. If you take a company which stores all its records, it is critical for them to preserve it properly, or else there could be instances of malpractices like corruption taking place.

Then, there are some low-hanging records like land records. When we all go to register our property, they will give you the property document and those documents need to be stored for a long period of time. The responsibility of land records department is to make sure that they store your records for your heir, children, grandchildren and so on. So, in whichever department there is need to preserve documents for long, there is greater potential from our point of view. There are number of areas: you take the case of crime records, police records, anything that touches government, or secretariat. What happens there? You make files, and those files pass from desk to desk. We can also help move the files from desk to desk in terms of computers. We can also force people to respond to the files in a stipulated time, and spot the people who are more responsible for that work to be completed within the time limit. So, we can change the way to work and bring productivity.

What challenges have you faced while working with the departments till now?

Look, if you ask me from the technology adoption standpoint as to what is the hampering factor, I would say it is partly our legislation, because even today the Evidence Act of India clearly says that primarily evidences need to be produced on a piece of paper. We can produce the digital record as fact and other forms as secondary evidences, but ultimately for the case to be resolved, you need the primary evidence put down on the original piece of paper. So, that is a little bit of roadblock. However, things have seen a little change since 2000, with the government bringing the IT act legislation, according to which digital records can be accepted as primary records of evidence provided those are digitally signed.

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