Tapping into the full power of multi-function devices is crucial for SMBs in the knowledge economy

By: Karl Boissonneault, Guest Columnist

Software and apps at the same time. are transforming printers and copiers into modern day Workplace Assistants, to help get work done better. We’ve probably all found ourselves in the same position at some point in our careers — standing in front of the printer, randomly poking at buttons and wondering how to get the machine to do its magic. What often comes next is a frustrated shout down the hall: “Does anybody know how to …?” Fill in whatever task you’d like — print, scan, copy, etc.

It’s not that these printers are any more complicated than the mobile devices or computers we use on a daily basis, it’s just that we may not have had enough time on them ourselves to figure out what makes them tick.But you should get to know them better — especially if you’re a small or medium-sized business. They can help you work better, faster, smarter and cut down on wasted staff time and energy at the same time.

Today’s multifunction devices are really intelligent workplace assistants that help employees instead of slowingthem down. They play multiple roles — sometimes as endpoints, sometimes as on-ramps — that have a direct impact on customer experience, costs, security and productivity. Research has shown the average worker can spend as much as three minutes waiting for a print job from a central printer. That may not sound like much by itself, but when you multiply it day by day, employee by employee, it can add up to hundreds of wasted hours per year for SMBs.

Next-generation workplace assistants have built-in tools to boost productivity, such as:

  • installation wizards to guide non-technical users through set up;
  • the ability to preview scans and faxes right at the user interface;
  • making scanned documents searchable with Optical Character Recognition capability;
  • enabling access to popular cloud-based services such as DropBox, CapturePoint and Google Drive.

Just like our phones and tablets, multifunction devices have become less like printers/copiers and more like the powerful computers they are. They even allow us to tap into the same apps that many of us rely on when using our own mobile devices. Apps make it easier to use devices as part of digital workflows to cloud and other platforms and applications. Users can expand device functionality simply by adding capabilities from an ever expanding app gallery, or build your own apps.

Next-generation device vendors have introduced apps to multi-function devices in ways that reflect how we like to work for convenience, and how we need to work to be successful. Now apps can be embedded in or downloaded to devices for multiple purposes, such as scanning documents to email or converting paper documents to images, PDFs or Word and Excel files.

Just as important as delivering an improved user experience, multi-function devices today can create an enhanced customer experience. Existing paper-based processes can be easily converted to digital and back, for faster, more efficient service. So a con- tract could be generated and populated online, printed out for a client’s signature and the customer’s copy, and then scanned back into the system. These digital workflows allow faster processing and improved customer service.

Next-generation multifunction printers represent a vital component of information flow, which is the lifeblood of organizations in the knowledge economy. That’s why smart SMBs are now assess- ing new print devices with a more critical eye, to see if they’re able to fully harness the power of new technology.

About the Author: Karl Boissonneault is the Vice President the Canadian Chan Group at Xerox Canada. Got questions? Visit Xerox Canada at https://www.xerox.ca