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Surveys Pit Paperless Office Against Printing

Paper Ream

Edward GatelyHas your office gone paperless? Has imaging technology changed your printing habits?

Two separate surveys completed for Brother International, by Wakefield Research and InfoTrends, say corporate reliance on printers and devices that combine printing, scanning and other functions is alive and well.

“Although technological advances and electronic communications have changed how companies operate, the results confirm that printing is still a critical and essential element in the business environment,” said Dan Waldinger, Brother’s director of services and solutions marketing. “So it is vital that business owners and decision-makers ensure printing is efficient and productive within their workflow.”

However, the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), which advocates the reduction of paper in business, says more businesses are using less paper.

“Slowly but surely, organizations are coming ‘round to the idea that digitizing much of the content and information flowing through their business can have both financial and operational benefits,” said John Mancini, AIIM’s president. “We are never going to eliminate paper completely, but when it becomes clear that going paper-free delivers return on investment and can improve overall productivity, businesses will be more willing to invest in the technologies that allow them to go paper-free.”{ad}

According to Wakefield’s survey, nearly three in four (73 percent) of business owners and decision makers at companies with 500 employees or fewer use their printing devices at least four times daily. Internal corporate departments, such as human resources, accounting and legal, rely heavily on hard-copy documents for processes like employee onboarding, invoicing and notetaking, according to InfoTrends’ survey.

The average company spends nearly $35,000 annually on printing, with the amount varying by industry. According to InfoTrends, a hypothetical company handling 5,000 printed pages per month will spend, on average, more than $27,000 on printed-document management.

In addition, nearly half (49 percent) of the respondents to the Wakefield survey prefer to read documents on a printed piece of paper.

AIIM recently completed a survey in which one in five (20 percent) of respondents said consumption of paper is increasing in their organization, while almost half (49 percent) said it is decreasing. Its survey included 430 of its members in the information management community.

Some 57 percent said they are committed to digital transformation, while more than one-third (35 percent) of respondents said that most of the electronic invoices they receive get printed anyway. Also, 34 percent agree that most of the documents they scan are unchanged from printer to scanner.

Some 31 percent admit that their desk is “piled high” with paper, with the average office worker using up to …

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… 45 sheets of paper per day, according to the AIIM survey.

“The demands brought on by a mobile and consumer-savvy workforce are forcing this change,” said Peggy Winton, AIIM’s vice president and chief operating officer. “Fewer and fewer knowledge workers – or their customers – are tethered to hardware or paper inside of a bricks-and-mortar environment. They want access to the information they need to do their jobs — anytime, from anywhere and on any device. That information has to be in digital form. The printer manufacturers have known this for awhile now.”

Jeff Sandler, Brother’s director of solutions marketing, said how companies use printing and printers has changed, and his company has adapted to accommodate those changing needs. For example, larger printers located farther away from employees are being replaced by smaller devices in closer proximity, therefore increasing productivity and efficiency, he said.

“The reality for us is that we are challenging the assumption that you need a large device far from the employees to meet their needs,” he said. “The machines we’re talking about are much more suited to a larger business environment. That’s a real opportunity for cost savings.”

Brother’s Authorized Partner Program includes SMB resellers and VARs.

According to AIIM’s survey, nearly three in five (59 percent) respondents achieved a payback in less than 12 months from their paper-free projects, including 26 percent in six months or less. Eighty-four percent achieved payback in less than 18 months — the highest the association has ever recorded.

“The biggest areas for cost savings and improved efficiency are faster customer-response rates (43 percent), then productivity and compliance, then better monitoring of business workflows,” Winton said.

 With continued development and improvement in their multi-functional devices, most companies like Brother already are making the transition from a “box printer to a broader document capture solution,” she said.

“The big winners in all of this are the organizations that don’t merely scan documents to eliminate paper storage or build up digital repositories; they scan to drive the information objects into business processes for better efficiency,” Winton said.


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