CORPORATE imaging and workflow solutions are set to take off in Hong Kong, and the rest of the Asian region, according to representatives of Optika, a leading producer of imaging and workflow software. 'We expect 25 to 30 per cent of our business in the next three years from Asia and Latin America,' said Wayne Calcote, Optika's international sales manager. Today, Optika gets only 12 per cent of its revenue from markets outside North America. In fact, attendance at a seminar on Optika products held at the Pacific Place Conference Centre last Wednesday far exceeded expectations, according to Gabriel Lau, imaging systems sales manager for Information and Telecommunication Services (ITS). ITS is the reseller for Optika products in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. In the United States, high demand in the banking, insurance and government sectors have fuelled large growth in the field. In the US alone, the market presently exceeds US$2.5 billion and every indication has it set to top $4 billion this year and reach than $6.5 billion by 1996-97. Still, this technology, which automates the storage and retrieval of information in electronic formats on optical disks, including information normally retained on paper, is relatively new in the region. Integrated Process Retrieval Systems (IPRS) of Singapore, the regional distributor for the Optika line, estimates that in the first two years of distribution in Asia there are only 15 workflow and imaging sites installed in Singapore numbering about 250 users. IPRS expects that upcoming growth in the region will be fuelled mostly by the same industries that currently make the systems popular in the United States. 'It takes a very brave person [to change the way a company works],' said Paul Watts, IPRS's business development manager. 'But, the driving force is workflow. It acts as a catalyst to change the way [a company] does business.' Mr Watts pointed to several potential applications of workflow systems, including banking. 'Banks here take from two to four weeks to process a credit card application,' said Mr Watts. By taking away all the non-valued-added tasks such as retrieving physical files it is possible to 'radically improve the efficiency of these workflow processes'. Likewise, in the banking industry, the systems can be used for electronic storage of signatures so that the signatures can be quickly called up at any branch for verification rather than maintaining extensive card files. Optika's newest FilePower line of products are designed to simplify what is traditionally a complex installation procedure. 'All old imaging products were program-based,' said Simon Naylor, ITs' general manager in Singapore. 'They were not easy to configure and this is why [the Optika products] will take off.' 'People want quick builds, test builds and the ability to re-engineer what they develop,' according to Mr Watts, who pointed out that Optika's object-oriented approach eliminates the C-level programming and makes this possible. Optika's software is almost unique in that they are Windows-based in a field that includes products from IBM running on AS/400 systems and a range of UNIX-based applications.