Smarter printing practices
According to the latest IDC White Paper 'SMB Buying Considerations for Smarter Business Printing' the way in which organisations buy printers and manage their print infrastructure must change, if they are to benefit from smarter printing practices
Sales of laser/LED printers to small and medium sized businesses across Europe have increased by more than three per cent, as companies take advantage of new technologies to bring more print tasks in-house (IDC Hardcopy Device Usage: Applications Driving Print, 2011).
Terry Laidlaw, Managing Director, OKI Europe who sponsored the report, believes that this is excellent news and reflects the ability of print solutions providers to respond successfully to the changing needs of the market.
"The IDC research shows, despite the rapid growth of sophisticated devices enabling us to view information electronically, there is still a huge demand to communicate messages and digest data on paper," said Laidlaw.
The survey highlights how the growth in popularity of colour in particular, is because companies can now produce colour documents on in-house laser or LED printers cost-effectively, without compromising on the professional quality that is expected from external print houses.
"Businesses need to gain a better understanding of the amount of printing that is taking place in their organisation and to control it," said Laidlaw. "To do this, they should consider software options that can identify, track and manage printing. As IDC identified, the first step to controlling costs is to identify what these costs are."
By installing tracking software which sits on the network, a business can monitor and manage print volume by department or user. For example, it can pinpoint which employees are printing, whether the print jobs are colour or mono and the number of pages in each case, the time of day jobs are sent and the type of files being printed. Armed with this information, usage software can then enable the setting of rules that can help control print output and so reduce ongoing costs.
The cost of external print services should be included in any analysis of overall print costs and requirements. The availability of print devices that enable more printing to move in-house means that organisations can print what they need when they need it, rather than printing large volumes in order to get the necessary economies of scale which can lead to wastage and a requirement for extra storage space.
In addition, it may make better economic sense to purchase an A3 rather than an A4 colour device, as this will enable the business to produce a wider range of brochures and other marketing materials in-house. These can also be produced and amended as necessary, enabling the business to be more proactive in responding quickly to changing customer and market demands.
"It is not surprising therefore that A3 sales to SMBs out-performed the market, with volume sales up by eight per cent in 2011 and set to continue this growth over the coming year," said Laidlaw. "Not only are smaller businesses using A3 to print high-quality banners, posters, packaging mock-ups and direct mail, but they are also able to produce anything required in larger scale, such as spreadsheets or technical plans."
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