Digitization is unavoidable. Small business owners need to respond to the trend – or die. However, not many are ready for the changes due to one reason or another.
To help you in your decision making process for determining whether digitization is the way to go for your company or not, we have a great Q&A session with Darren Cassidy, the President of United States Channels Group (USCG) at Xerox, on Xerox’ latest research on the evolution of document workflow processes and business priorities in 2017.
SMBCEO: Hello – please kindly introduce yourself to our readers
Darren Cassidy: On January 1, 2016, I stepped into a new role as President, United States Channels Group (USCG) at Xerox. I lead the US indirect channels business which includes Xerox’s authorized sales agents and Xerox’s multi-branded solutions providers, dealers, resellers, e-tailers, superstores, and other national office technology and solutions providers.
I have more than 25 years of experience in a variety of senior sales and channel management roles across Xerox Europe, including Managing Director, United Kingdom, where I oversaw business performance and directed the strategy for building long-term growth.
Previously, I was Vice President of Global Managed Print Services Offer and Business Development.
Xerox has just released new research about the evolution of document workflow processes and business priorities in 2017. Can you please tell us more what the research all about, as well as some findings/trends worth noting?
The third-party research pinpoints proven strategies that small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) can use in their organization that equates to overall business growth, cost savings and productivity improvements. All of this can be achieved by simply making changes to how you manage your business’ print processes. This survey puts a magnifying glass on the various ways SMBs are eager to make improvements, most with changes planned within the next 12 months. It also provides specific real-life approaches for Xerox partners to step in and assess companies’ pain points so that businesses can quickly achieve results that contribute to their bottom line. Here are some key highlights the survey revealed:
- 80 percent of small/mid-size businesses want to cut paper out of the way they invoice, report financials and manage legal and human resource forms.
- Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents confirmed that a significant amount of time is wasted on paper-intensive processes.
- 6 out of 10 view this as having a major impact on their bottom line.
- 1 in 5 businesses are aware of existing paper-free solutions in the market.
- By the end of 2017, 23 percent of SMBs believe mobile devices will be completely integrated with their document workflow processes.
- 66 percent of SMBs include mobile printing in their mobility initiatives, while 27 percent plan to within the next year.
- 56 percent of SMBs currently include printers and/or multifunction printers (MFPs) in their security strategies.
At Xerox, we recognize the importance of document management. Until recently, it had been seen as an area only large companies needed to worry about. But documents are the lifeblood of any business – no matter the size. The costs, inefficiencies and opportunities associated with document management and workflow matter to SMBs as well. Our survey, conducted by Coleman Parkes Research, set out to uncover what some progressive SMBs are doing to manage print and documents today and what plans they may have for the future. The results offer fascinating insight and reveal a number of areas for improvement.
Not surprisingly, the top ranked business priority for these SMBs was growth, but tied for the number one spot was increased productivity through improved document workflow with reduced printing costs rounding out the top three. Some key highlights include:
- The bottom line is driving print optimization with cost reduction as the primary reason for digitization.
- 81 percent of respondents are planning on improving their document workflow processes.
- 78 percent of respondents said that they would enlist the help of outside expertise such as an IT resellers, consultants or office equipment dealers.
- Awareness of managed print services (MPS) is high among progressive SMBs. 42 percent already have an MPS contract in place, with 40 percent more planning to put a contract in place within a year.
How can small business owners respond to the trends, in terms of their journey into digitization?
The trends point to highly effective ways any SMB can streamline their paper intensive processes that successfully enable them to make productivity gains and optimize their IT budget.
Digitization is changing the way companies work and mobility is increasingly central to productivity and collaboration. A few quick steps an SMB can take on their own to improve their document workflow include integrating scanned hard copy document processes into automated digital workflows, using the cloud to share and collaborate, and enabling secure mobile printing. These steps can have a direct impact on productivity. But it’s only once an SMB has done a thorough assessment of their print environment that they can start to get the most out of it. Find a document technology partner with the expertise to perform a print assessment. This comprehensive exercise will provide a detailed analysis of an organization’s print environment and provide an action plan to help save costs and operate more efficiently with little interruption to their everyday operations.
SMB’s needs to go paperless mean big opportunities. Can you explain what they are and how businesses can capitalize on those?
While many SMBs have ambitions for a lean digital future, they are still weighed down by paper. This undermines productivity by perpetuating slow and expensive manual processes.
Enabling work to get done in a digital, streamlined fashion can generate huge productivity gains for SMBs while creating new and improved ways to interact with their customers. Other benefits include cost reduction and improved information and document security.
Consider most documents today start their life on a computer, tablet or smartphone – devices that offer easy sharing and storage. Digitization will enable mobile working and use of the cloud to create a platform for small businesses to be agile as they grow their business in a rapidly changing digital world.
We find it helpful to think about digitization in three stages with each stage delivering increasing value.
- Assess and optimize – Start by auditing, tracking, measuring, and analyzing your use of paper. This will help identify the good paper and the bad paper. Optimizing might mean digitizing or it could mean re-engineering a paper-based process.
- Secure and integrate – Build in security and ensure that the technology, processes and people all work well together.
- Automate and simplify – Identify processes that would benefit from automating workflow and better results will follow.
As one of the leaders in the industry, how can Xerox help SMBs in their digitization journey?
Given the importance of digitization and document workflow, implementing Xerox Managed Print Services (MPS) can ensure an SMB doesn’t have to assess, optimize and manage everything on their own. MPS is a great way to streamline the flow of information across an organization and make sure a business’ print environment is efficient, easy-to-use and secure. End-users will get easier workflows that connect their digital tools with the hardware they use, IT will get an easier way to manage the print fleet with greater insight into the way documents – paper and digital – flow through the organization and the company gets the benefit of a more effective and productive workforce for lower costs.
A Xerox channel partner can help small businesses in their digitization journey and seamlessly manage the complex nature of a print environment, freeing up IT resources to work on more strategic business critical initiatives.
A small business not quite ready to implement MPS can use Xerox ConnectKey MFPs to increase user productivity by simplifying and shortening everyday tasks. Take for instance, Xerox ConnectKey workflow apps, which extend the capabilities of MFPs and help make the most of hardware investments.
Lastly, please share your tips on how small businesses can get started in going paperless on the right foot.
While it seems like switching to 100 percent digital workflows is the quick way to efficiency and reduced spend, the paperless office is still a myth. The trick is striking the right balance between paper and digital. Some ways to do this are:
- Optimize the mix of printers and MFPs in your business. A better print infrastructure helps your bottom line.
- Define preset workflows and create customizable ‘apps’ on your MFPs that turn multi-step processes into a one-step job – a definite time saver and productivity boost. Apps are already available on Xerox ConnectKey MFPs and you can add additional apps by downloading them from Xerox’s App Gallery.
- Integrate securely with cloud and mobile workflows. By making sure your MFPs are connected to the cloud tools you use and enabling easy-to-use mobile printing, you get the benefit of a simpler workflow and connect your digital infrastructure to your print infrastructure, maximizing the value of both.
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