Johannesburg, 28 Nov 2023
For a long time, it was expected that only larger corporates or enterprises had the wherewithal to implement print and document management solutions that facilitate digital transformation, owing mainly to their cost. The traditional lack of ICT infrastructure and budget that affects most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) meant they were unable to afford either the massive capital outlay or the support staff needed to maintain and administrate these systems.
The advent of the cloud has changed all this, notes Marius Visagie, enterprise software presales manager at Altron Document Solutions. He indicates that cloud-hosted software as a service (SaaS) solutions alleviate the need for cumbersome ICT infrastructure – while at the same time eliminating the need for both costly perpetual software licences and a support and maintenance team.
“This is because leveraging the cloud means everything is maintained and supported by the service provider, while you no longer need to invest in licences permanently bound to your printer hardware, domains and/or users. And of course, the cloud offers incredible scalability and flexibility,” he says.
“With a SaaS model, businesses can enable or disable subscriptions to print and document management services as required. In fact, a good service provider will ultimately help the customer reduce print volume and, by association, redundant printers and licences, and enable digital services, as they take the client on a digital transformation journey – one that is about delivering the right solution, at the right time, to suit the individual business.”
Visagie adds that another massive benefit here is the cost savings that accrue from using a cloud-hosted solution derived through economies of scale offered by multi-tenant platforms. After all, cloud-hosted solutions can help reduce overheads, while also providing self-service capabilities that allow users to onboard themselves, all without needing to involve the ICT team.
“Aside from alleviating the burden of costly infrastructure, this approach also enables ICT support teams to automate mundane tasks, like managing your print drivers and the deployment of software and services to endpoint, something that further helps to reduce costs.
“Moreover, such cloud-based solutions give users access to analytics to identify additional cost savings opportunities – such as document-intensive business processes. It is then possible to use tools to digitalise and automate many of these processes, thereby reducing the company’s reliance on paper-based workflows.”
He explains that by making the process digital, from start to finish, not only is security improved, but it is possible to layer reporting and dashboards to provide in-depth information at your fingertips.
“Another benefit of digitising is the ability to control ‘behavioural print’ – where the user preference is to work with a hard copy. Identifying this allows the business to put rules and policies in place to reduce such instances. With reporting, it is even possible to show them exactly how much their printing costs the organisation, as well as the cost impact in terms of power usage and CO2 generation,” he continues.
“Going digital ensures a complete audit trail for anything printed, telling management exactly which user printed what, thus making them more accountable. It also allows for secure document release, where the user can use any printer, but has to authenticate themselves at the device before it will print the document. One can even configure the system to recognise and flag certain keywords, to protect confidential material from being printed. This means you can manage your security right down to the content level, for individual documents.”
The cloud also makes it simple for the service provider to deliver support that is referred to by Altron as ‘just in time’ consumable replenishment. By deploying an agent in the customer’s environment, designed to monitor the devices and the consumable burn rate, it is possible to determine when certain consumables will run out. This means replacements can be dispatched exactly when they will be needed.
“The key to accessing all the benefits of a managed print service is to choose a partner that will walk the entire journey towards digital transformation with you. The right partner will help you craft policies, improve your security and deliver the solutions and analytics needed to improve efficiencies and save costs.
“Furthermore, they should assist with the automation and digitalisation of cumbersome, paper-driven processes, helping to reduce your print volumes, which in turn means reducing your print hardware. Essentially, you want a service provider that delivers solutions focused on four key customer focal points: to secure their data; to make them more productive; to help reduce their costs; and to alleviate their IT burden through cloud-hosted tools and services, all of which work together to achieve the end goal of digital transformation,” concludes Visagie.