MAXIMISING INVESTMENT IN FORMS TECHNOLOGY

The European business forms industry has come of age in recent years. New technological developments are revolutionising the sector, promising reduced costs in data entry. Europe's business forms market is predicted to be worth around $4.7 billion by 2005 (Source: CAP Ventures). NRG recognises that forms technology represents a cost-effective means of adding value and flexibility to data, enabling it to be interpreted in different ways. NRG's ‘Total Document Solutions' approach allows clients to customise, deliver, manage and control business-critical information .

At a basic level, forms represent the ideal means to transfer information between people or organisations, using a standardised format. Based on the premise of leveraging information to transform it into ‘intelligent data', the ‘new' forms industry delivers substantial savings. Today's flexible software solutions have reduced the reliance on traditional pre-printed stationery.

Completing and transmitting a form can be a costly and time-consuming process. Information is money and technologies that support the transmission and translation of critical data will contribute to business success. Templates vary from simple surveys to complex documents like insurance claims. Electronic forms enable more data to be interpreted and represented on the document. Key details, for example, can be automatically located and entered electronically on the claims form , leaving the claimant needing simply to sign on the dotted line, and providing evidence of how the latest technology can simplify this process.

Forms-processing software enables businesses to increase efficiency. Any business that can process forms accurately and rapidly is automatically in a stronger position. Eliminating manual data entry and the associated costs saves time and reduces the risk of errors. Forms-processing software also facilitates data analysis. Details in a payroll system, for example, can be easily checked against employee databases. Additional applications such as databases and dictionaries can also be integrated as requirements evolve.

“Today's forms-processing software is so intelligent that data contained in formats such as web pages, images, faxes, email attachments and even handwritten documents can be captured, interpreted and transmitted,” explains Karen Churchill, Product Manager, NRG.

Data can be taken to a higher, customer-focused level by enabling businesses to personalise customer communications. Businesses can tailor documents to deliver added value to customers . This allows companies to capture readers' interest immediately and, ultimately, generate increased revenue.

“NRG's range of forms-processing applications is an ideal example of the latest generation of business forms software,” explains Karen Churchill. “Offering the latest features designed to make data capture and analysis more efficient, NRG's software enables data to be manipulated in various formats, allowing users to design documents that meet their needs.”

Forms primarily come in two formats – paper-based forms and Internet-based electronic forms (‘e-forms'). The public sectors of individual European states are key influencers in the growth of e-forms. Certain local governments already encourage the use of e-forms for transactions including tax returns. E-forms represent an excellent opportunity to reduce the costs associated with manual data entry and pre-printed stationery. Another key driver in the move towards e-forms is the EU government's bid to create the world's most competitive, knowledge-based economy. The ‘eEuropean Action Plan', adopted by EU leaders in 2000, aims to increase the demand for e-form applications in the business-to-business sector.

Although e-forms are increasingly attractive, demand for paper-based forms will always exist. Documents such as receipts or mail order responses still account for a large proportion of forms. Image-based data entry, supplemented by software recognition, is the chief way to capture data on paper forms.

NRG offers a variety of solutions to help customers improve process efficiency and profitability. It's forms software optimises productivity by distributing documents to multiple devices. Information can be overlaid on sophisticated design layouts, with the look and feel easily altered to meet customer needs. Data can be processed from any mainframe system, mapped to forms and sent to any Windows-based device. Multi-page templates can be designed with varying format sizes and orientations for use in multi-tray output devices, in order to utilise different paper stocks.

Forms-processing software is evolving rapidly, promising extra value for businesses everywhere. This new generation of forms technology provides the opportunity for businesses to significantly enhance efficiency. The most successful companies will be those that can address customer needs immediately and effectively, and the latest forms technology offers significant scope for businesses to take that lead today.

Notes to editors:

About NRG
The NRG Group is a leading provider of Total Document Solutions. Through its three sales brands – Nashuatec, Rex Rotary and Gestetner, it provides cutting-edge IT based hardware and software solutions for the document management cycle. NRG combines this with a range of Business and Professional Services, which includes on-going customer support and consultancy.
With headquarters in London, UK, NRG operates in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Sub-continent, Russia and The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It employs over 6,500 dedicated employees, servicing customers through 15 wholly owned operations and many more through its worldwide distributor partner network. In 2001, the group had an annual turnover of over 1.2 billion Euros.

NRG is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ricoh Company Limited, one of the world's leading manufacturers of office equipment. More information on Ricoh can be accessed on the Ricoh website: www.ricoh.com
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