Is the office printer dead?

We’ve been hearing about the paperless office for years, but the office printer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It is only changing to adapt to life in the digital age.

That’s the prediction from Gareth Brenchley, managing director of the managed business services company Itec Cape Town, which claims that even in an age of sustainability, smart mobile work and digital collaboration, most businesses still have print-dependent workplaces and spend tens of thousands of Rand per year for printing.

“Businesses are still extremely dependent on printing for their business processes, but the printing environment has grown. The printer isn’t just a ‘dumb device’ in the corner of the office – it’s now part of a smart, connected network, with modern multifunctional printers (MFPs) giving users new capabilities to scan their documents and manage their information, ”explains Brenchley.

Interestingly, it’s not just the older generations who still use print. While online may be the go-to channel for the so-called ‘millennials’, Quocirca’s Print2025 2018 report showed that 77% of millennials believe paper and physical documents will still be important in the workplace in 2025.

However, there is no doubt that the use of paper is slowly declining. As connected printers integrate with broader enterprise content management (ECM) platforms, they are now part of the move towards more digitized workplaces. Users do not need to print a physical copy of a document – they can simply “print” it to the cloud, where it is easily accessible at any time.

Today’s generation of multifunction printers are not just sophisticated document management centers; they are also able to manage themselves practically. Brenchley says they use less paper, less ink and toner, and use device analytics to enable better asset management, proactive maintenance, and real-time reporting through so-called managed print services (MPS).

“The Managed Print Services model gives businesses key insights into their printing environments, with a better ability to track activity, reduce unnecessary volumes, manage costs, and secure their network printers,” explains Brenchley.

However, this only happens when print suppliers become strategic business partners. They must help identify the real needs of business units, deliver services that meet those requirements, and meet the growing demands for IT service security and control, explains Brenchley.

Security is becoming more and more important in the printing environment. User authentication can control user access and ensure documents are only delivered in the right hands of recipients. Document management systems often include technologies such as biometrics, digital signatures, document security, and general scanning to ensure data and document protection.

“There is no doubt that printing continues to play a role in the workplace, but it is evolving to become more environmentally conscious, digitized and mobile. The future is not a paperless office, it’s lightweight paper, ”says Brenchley.

Itec Group South Africa

Itec is Southern Africa’s fastest growing office, production print and telecommunications solutions provider. Through its 47 branches in Southern Africa, the company implements complete office solutions based on imported, industry-leading and award-winning products.

Itec serves medium and large enterprises in industries as diverse as financial services and retail, supporting its innovative solutions with proactive service delivery. Some of its clients include Value Logistics, Implats, Department of Housing, Business Connexion, ADT, Rand Refinery, First National Bank, Anglogold Ashanti, National Health Laboratory Services and ADvTECH.

Itec’s management rebranded the company in 2004 following a merger of the separate copier, printer and fax business units originally established in 1987.

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