Net storage in NZ

Net storage in NZ

As Vodafone NZ discovered, outsourcing its imaging can provide additional benefits.

By Alicia Camphuisen

Mobile telephony is one of the most competitive industries in the Asia-Pacific region, and New Zealand is no different. In a move to gain an edge in customer service, Vodafone is revamping its New Zealand customer records with an overhaul of its imaging system.

Vodafone had used a customised imaging solution to maintain electronic copies of its contractual records, application forms, internal documents and correspondence. The company's capacity soon outgrew the system, however, with high overheads with its software and hardware, so it considered outsourcing its imaging requirements to reduce these costs.

"Corporations are more comfortable with documents hosted outside the network."

The mobile communications carrier opted for an outsourcing model provided by imaging solutions company Datacap, called Webzone, in a project begun in April 1999. Webzone first extracted more than one million images from Vodafone's old system, that would be incorporated into the new image archive. It then captured and processed new paper records through a combination of optical character recognition (OCR) and neural network technology, a kind of self-learning pattern recognition technology that adapts to different templates and formats that it images.

Datacap now hosts these images on its Dell server environment with redundant components, providing Vodafone with access to its records through a browser-based interface over Datacap's Internet connections. Vodafone rents the capacity and the service, in an arrangement not dissimilar to those of Application Service Providers (ASP).

"Vodafone is able to reach their documents faster than it was able to over its local area network," claimed Datacap managing director Mark Wooton.

Vodafone is now expanding the number and style of documents it images, as the system can process its range of templates. The company is also looking to have document management functionality with Word and Excel documents. Although Vodafone will host these applications itself, Mr Wooton said Datacap would provide desktop access to extensions to these applications as updates are released.


Datacap is applying this storage service provider model to several other clients, including Telstra NZ, and freight courier TNT Express.

Another user, XP Couriers, scans its consignment notes and courier sheets at its 17 locations.

The solution is also finding support in accounts payable divisions and to support Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects. Datacap has also focused much of its work on the medical and health sector.

"Corporations are more comfortable with having their business documents hosted outside the network in a secure fashion, especially as they can determine the level of security they want," claimed Mr Wooton. "The ASP concept has made companies realise outsourcing is more viable, as they see the true costs of management."