Welcome to the first installment in our inaugural instructional series, Business-to-Business Buying Basics 101. In part one of this multi-part series, you will learn all about document-based technology solutions. You might have heard of such solutions before, but what exactly are they? And what can they do for your organization?
Wonder no more. Matt Lane, founder and president of ClearView Business Solutions, is here to answer all of your most pressing questions about document-based technology solutions.
A document-based solution, he said, is “really any solution – whether hardware or software – that solves a problem in a document-based process.”
Document-based solutions consist of hardware and software solutions. Hardware comes in all shapes and sizes, from basic desktop printers to large commercial printers. There are also all-in-one printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines. Software-wise, various industry-specific software applications manage and limit print and scan jobs, in addition to tracking users and the number of prints for billing purposes.
With the sophistication of technology these days, users can set the equipment up to automate certain features, functions and processes. On Toshiba copiers, for example, users can set up custom workflows to automate their common document processes with the touch of a button.
ClearView can even manage customers’ printers and copiers on their behalf. Even if customers already have a printer, ClearView can still provide service, support and toner to customers for their existing printers.
In many ways, document-based technology solutions have undergone a drastic evolution since they were first invented. They began as analog devices with an analog operating system, and are now fully digital devices. Also, these devices used to be isolated, outside-of-the-network devices, but now they can very easily be added into and fully integrated with a network. In practice, devices that could once only function as copiers can now print, scan and interact with the network.
As a result, consumers are copying less and printing more from various devices. At the same time, printing is becoming less common as consumers have more frequently been using software applications to do what they used to do with physical paper.
“That’s changed the industry big-time and will continue to change it as more of these applications and industry-specific applications tend to replace more document-based processes,” said Lane.
As technological advancements continue to shape and mold the industry, one factor will always influence which technology is used: the work process. If, for example, a business begins to send its invoices electronically rather than printing them, then it will no longer need a printer to print invoices.
Lane predicts that new technology such as nanotechnology could eventually replace original documents.
How do organizations get office equipment?
While some organizations buy their office equipment, others lease it, for many reasons.
“Most organizations look to acquire their equipment in a manner that is the best use and gives them the most leverage of their capital,” Lane said. “That ends up being a lot of times a low monthly payment that also provides some flexibility in updating the equipment as technology changes. So that’s why most people lease it instead of taking on a large capital expense on a very highly depreciating asset.”
Although some organizations may prefer to purchase and manage their own hardware, such organizations don’t benefit from the all-encompassing support that a managed services agreement provides.
Cars, heavy equipment and office equipment
“The first reason why I think most people lease is the same reason that most people lease cars or heavy equipment,” Lane said.
Leasing allows organizations to have the most technologically-advanced office equipment, so they can update and change their equipment at the end of a lease. In an always-evolving industry, organizations find it less expensive to lease the latest technology rather than dropping $10,000 on new devices.
“Leasing,” Lane said, “provides flexibility and enables organizations to stay current on the latest equipment to maximize efficiency in processes.”
Ultimately, organizations strongly prefer a turnkey business solution, including the equipment, service and more.
Most original equipment manufacturers guarantee production of the parts for their products for at least seven years.
What kinds of printers are there?
Do you know how many kinds of printers there are? From laser to inkjet, and from all-in-one printers to multi-function printers, printers exist for most every business need.
Let’s start with the classic inkjet printer. Since the 1970s, the inkjet printer has recreated digital images by putting ink droplets on paper, plastic and other materials.
Next is another kind of printer that you’ve probably already heard of: the laser printer. Also since the 1970s, the laser printer has laser-beamed its way into the homes, offices and hearts of consumers worldwide. This printer was invented in 1969 by Gary Starkweather, who worked in a Xerox research lab at the time.
Moving on to more advanced technology, we have multi-function copiers, also known as all-in-one printers. These handy-dandy devices get the job done in many ways, as an email-enabled device, fax machine, photocopier, printer and scanner.
What about scanners?
But wait, there’s more!
Ever heard of standalone desktop scanners? These useful machines don’t just scan your documents. Some of these are small, incredibly convenient devices that can scan your documents rather quickly and even auto-rotate your documents.
In future blog posts, you’ll learn about other advanced devices like plotters and digital press printers.
Enough about hardware
Where’s the love for software?
Software applications like Papercut enable remote printing from Papercut-enabled devices. Simply submit a print job remotely then release the job from the printer.
Shut up and Drivve
There’s also Drivvee | Image, which is scanning software that allows you to create personalized profiles to use for automated one-touch distribution and scan jobs. With network communication between your devices and scanner, you can easily categorize, name and archive scanned documents. You can also manually input pertinent data, or add data by using bar codes or intelligent text analysis.
As you can see, although document-based technology solutions have come a long way, they could potentially still improve. For a turnkey solution to all of your office equipment needs, check out ClearView Business Solutions.