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Optimising enterprise printing costs

To most organisations, containing printing and imaging costs has always been neglected, many saw it as a peripheral expenditure that they can do with. As IT budgets continue to be squeezed that is no longer the case. Today, organisations are exploring ways of controlling and managing their ballooning printing and imaging costs. The shift has been aided by the fact that printing vendors are bringing to market document management tools that offer a single view of how much an organisation is spending on printing on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

In the Middle East region, research firm Gartner estimates that up to 5% of IT revenue is spent on printing and imaging. Now this is a huge amount and any organisation that can cut the spent to half could use the savings in other areas of innovation within the IT department.

As most enterprise businesses are slowly beginning to control their printing and imaging solutions centrally, it is vital that they look at print management beyond the traditional hardware of feeds and speeds. Implementing holistic solutions that help companies to save money without having to compromise on quality and their printing needs will in the long-run ensure that they run efficient printing environments.

Most companies don’t pay much attention to the amount they shell out for printing, not to mention the cost to procure, supply and maintain their fleet of printing and imaging devices. "It tends to get overlooked because it’s not sexy or up front," says Don Dixon, Gartner’s research director for printing markets.

What’s more, printing and imaging usually isn’t controlled centrally in organisations. IT departments will be in charge of buying and installing printers because they run on the corporate network, while supply chain organisations or facilities departments will control purchasing supplies for those printers as well as other imaging devices.

Vendor initiatives

Against this background, printing and imaging vendors such as Kyocera Mita and Xerox have developed printing management tools that aimed at helping organisations to centrally manage their entire fleet of printing and imaging solutions. These tools help to manage, calculate the total cost of printing based on the existing variable within a given environment.

Gartner estimates that enterprises waste anywhere from 1% to 5% of their IT revenue on imaging and printing costs. And in some paper-intensive industries like insurance and legal, the number is even higher, says Dixon.

Dan Smith, GM for integrated marketing at Xerox Middle East and Africa (MEA) agrees and says most companies are changing their mindsets when it comes to printing and imaging needs within their organisations as vendors are beginning to develop tools and solutions that address the overall needs of document management.

Smith says to this end, Xerox has developed solutions that work both in a homogeneous and heterogeneous printing environment that help enterprises to Make fact based decisions for their enterprise printing solutions.

Dubbed the Xerox Device Manager (XDM), the solution offers a single tool to install print queues and configure, manage, monitor and report on both networked and locally connected devices – regardless of the vendor brand – across the enterprise. “These tools offer a holistic document management solution,” he says.

He says that XDM includes a number of functions that can improve efficiency of any document output environment and potentially reduce costs for any organisation. These functions, according to Smith, include device discovery, configuration and management, job tracking and visualisation, proactive monitoring, remote diagnostics and troubleshooting, and reporting.

Takuya Marubayashi, GM at Kyocera Mita Middle East, concurs and says his company like Xerox is approaching the printing needs of organisations holistically. Marubayashi says the company has developed a strategy called Manage Print Service (MPS) which aims to assist organisations check and manage their print costs. “What is important for companies in the Middle East is that MPS has been developed with the sole purpose of helping them to make better and informed decisions before standardising on any printing platform,” he says.

He stresses that MPS is not just about hardware as it also contains the provision managed and consulting services to the end-user client. “MPS is a total printing and imaging package tailored to suit a given client needs and printing environment,” He says. “It contains the technology, product, services all holistically packaged to address the specific needs of a client.”

Marubayashi says MPS concentrates on giving customers a clear view of what the total cost of ownership in their printing environment will be. He acknowledges that Xerox has made significant inroads in the document management solutions space.

“Xerox is by far our strongest competitor in the Middle East market when it comes to document management solutions,” he notes.

Having said that, Marubayashi points out that Kyocera Mita has slowly started to see its offering especially the multi-functional printers (MFPs)

In addition to the MPS initiative, Kyocera Mita recently introduced a leasing programme for customers. The offering, KYOfinance, will enable customers to: better manage cash flow and budget; reduce the risks associated with investing large amounts of capital in office equipment; and take advantage of attractive terms and conditions associated with consolidating leasing volumes.

KYOfinance offers several types of contracts, such as: equipment leasing, relating to hardware only; equipment leasing including service; or “all-in” contracts, which may include software, maintenance, consumables, installation, consulting and other costs. Payments for all-in contracts are usually calculated on an estimated number of print outs per month, known as the number of clicks.

This means customers’ do not need to worry about unexpected costs, such as maintenance and service.
Marubayashi says because through this initiative, customers have the option to lease it means that a customers’ capital is not tied up in fixed assets, giving them increased buying power and pay as they use the equipment instead of purchasing it and paying the full amount up front. In addition, the customer always has access to state of the art equipment during the lease term through add-ons or trade ups.

Taking control

In this time of increased uncertainty, CIOs would benefit from taking control of printing and document management within their organisations and investigating opportunities to consolidate and upgrade their fleets to MFDs that combine printing, copying, scanning and faxing functionalities.

Pundits say not only can that save their companies money, Gartner estimates as much as 30% annually as the MFDs and document management systems help automate and streamline business processes.

By taking control of imaging, CIOs can also reduce their company’s impact on the environment. Those benefits should help you make a business case for upgrading your company’s imaging devices and for convincing recalcitrant users to give up their pet printers and change their attitudes toward hard copy, which ranks among the biggest challenges associated with these projects.

Xerox’s Smith says the company has not just been pushing for document management solutions, but through its innovation, Xerox has been at the forefront of embracing green technologies. “We believe in environment friendly technology,” he says. “Consequently, most of our MFPs are coming out with double printing technologies all in an effort to save organisations paper.”

He says although organisations in Europe have been quick to embrace green technologies, Middle East companies are still behind. “This is a challenge as much as it is an opportunity for us and our channel partners to educate the end-user at all levels from a home user right through to the enterprise,” he says.

Smith adds that Xerox is committed to maximising office productivity and it recently through the, Xerox Global Services developed Xerox Office Services (XOS), an enhanced suite of software tools that manage multiple printers and multifunction systems within the office network. “The office productivity tools have been developed with the sole purpose of helping lower the TCO for customers’ document technology and provide highly measurable results,” he says.

He says this software combines Xerox’s document management expertise and its office consulting services to give customers significant advantage in the race to cut costs and improve productivity something that is on every CIO’s mind today.
According to the vendor, a key feature of XOS is the Print Infrastructure Mining (PIM) data analysis technology which was developed by the Xerox Research Centre Europe.

But how should CIOs figure out these cost-savings that can be realised when an organisation implements a document management solution that centrally controls and manages a printing output environment?

Marubayashi says Kyocera has started to work and recommend to clients in the Middle East the MPS proposition. He explains that the MPS evaluation process usually takes a minimum of three months. “At the moment, we are looking at the banking, financial services and government sector,” he says. “In Kenya and Nigeria, our MPS offering is already bearing fruit as we have assisted banks in those countries to save on their printing costs. We are hoping to replicate this model for banks and financial services companies in the Middle East region.

With the estimated cost-savings in hand, Kyocera is looking at assisting CIOs by drawing up floor layouts pinpointing where each device in a client’s printing environment is located. Such blueprints, says Marubayashi, will allow any new customers that signs on MPS to determine which devices could be dumped and where to put the all–in-one MFPs.

With most printer and imaging manufacturers looking at or already have solutions that perform this kind of assessment for their customers, it will be sooner that document management tools become widely adopted in the enterprise.

 

Most companies spend 1% to 5% of their revenue on printing and imaging. Industry pundits share insights on how to change that, improve business process and cut cost.

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