Documenting change

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20 November 2013 | 0

Few aspects of the IT world have seen as much change over the last 10 years as that of enterprise print and document management.

For a start, the average enterprise has gone from managing its own fleet of printers and photocopiers, to outsourcing the lot to specialist third parties. Stand-alone printers have been replaced with multifunction devices that are much cheaper to run and technologies such as secure printing, centralised digitised documents and permissions-based controls have become commonplace.

Driving this has been a desire to drive down costs, limit paper output as much as possible and give control of this notoriously inefficient area of IT back to the enterprise.

In fact, so successful has this been that it is tempting to think that there is nowhere new left for print to go. Surely all the savings that could be made, have been made? Not so, says Gary Tierney, printing and personal systems group country manager for Hewlett Packard.

Gary Tierney

A significant challenge in this area is the added complexity created by the cloud, by services like Dropbox and by companies embracing different variations of private, public and hybrid cloud technologies. How should you handle allows your employees to access documents from outside and inside the company, storing, forwarding or printing them remotely? Gary Tierney, HP

Uncontrolled costs
“It’s often said that print is the last bastion of uncontrolled cost. A few years ago you could have asked a CIO how many PCs they had and they’d know. If you asked them how many printers, copiers or scanners they had, they wouldn’t know,” he said.

“If you asked them how many pages they produced they wouldn’t know and they would have only the vaguest idea how much they paid for print versus copy. That’s something that has largely been addressed over the last few years.”

Enterprise level companies have adopted auditing systems and engaged with specialist third parties to operate managed print services contracts for them, converting more and more companies to the utility model of printing documents.

“This cost-per-page model represents the core basics of how you get control and it’s been largely achieved. The challenge facing the sector now is how to drive additional cost out of the print function,” said Tierney.

According to Hewlett Packard, the solution to this problem lies in how well companies respond to four key areas of IT evolution — mobility, cloud, big data and security.

“Over the last year or so mobility has really gathered momentum, along with the bring-your-own-device phenomenon and I think the average CIO or IT director has been surprised by just how prevalent this is,” said Tierney.

“Tablets and smart phones are here to stay and how well they fit into the print and document management equation will continue to present a challenge to the IT department.”

Complexity grows
“The second significant challenge in this area is the added complexity created by the cloud, by services like Dropbox and by companies embracing different variations of private, public and hybrid cloud technologies. How should you handle allows your employees to access documents from outside and inside the company, storing, forwarding or printing them remotely?”

Tierney adds big data to the mix, saying “how do you mine for business intelligence, how do you do more with your documents and data and how do you take advantage of the general explosion of electronic information in your company?”

Finally, he says, the way in which these three areas have impacted security creates a fourth challenge in its own right.

“It doesn’t matter whether your business is printing, client devices, networking or whatever — every version and derivative of how we’ve delivered IT over the last decade is being challenged by these four factors and printing, copying and managed print has to address all of them as well,” he said.

According to HP’s point of view, multifunction print devices are increasingly becoming ‘on-ramps’ to the digital world.

“Print and document management is no longer just about the device, it’s about the integration of a service. It’s about how companies manage and control their print function, how they secure it and how they track it,” said Tierney.

“Overall if you look at the global average print market, it’s actually not declined, it’s grown by two or three per cent. So commercial printers and commercial output is still a growth business but the challenge is how do you take control of your environment and manage it better.”

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