Could The Lowly Printer Offer More Opportunity Than You Think

Assessing ROI: Paper-pushing

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We've all heard the joke about how we are going to see the paperless bathroom before we see the paperless office. There is more truth to the joke than humor.

Computers, networks and the Internet have increased our use of paper in the office, not reduced it.

It's an issue that Lexmark is pushing as an opportunity for solution providers and, in my opinion, one worth thinking about. According to Randy Nelson, vice president of U.S. marketing for Lexmark, employees run up some $500 to $1,500 each in printing costs per year.

ROBERT FALETRA Can be reached at (516) 562-7812 or via e-mail at

In addition, 60 percent of all office output these days is printed, not copied. That is a huge shift from the past.

In the old days, we used to print or copy centrally and then distribute the information. Conversely, in today's connected environment, we distribute and then print locally. Owner's manuals, for instance, are loaded onto a CD, and you have to print your own hard copy.

In addition, according to Nelson, the typical employee-to-device ratio these days is 3:1.

So, despite the connected world, increasingly we are going to see more local printers in addition to the shared printer. More importantly, as Nelson correctly notes, all of this output is completely unmanaged.

Therein lies the opportunity for solution providers.

There are very few organizations today that have any idea what they spend on printing.

They have a better handle on copying costs because copiers tend to be centrally managed devices. The increase in the number of printers, however, spreads the costs out and makes it much harder to track.

It seems to me that in this environment,where there needs to be a return on investment for any technology spending,this scenario presents a great opportunity.

'Solution providers need to build the capability to go into a corporation and assess its printing volume and overall costs or team up with a manufacturer that can help them accomplish this.'

For the channel, engaging with a printer manufacturer that can help you assess and sell customers by proving the ROI can be a benefit.

Lexmark has been pushing the need-to-manage concept, but to be sure, it isn't the only manufacturer doing so. Hewlett-Packard, the industry leader in terms of printer market share, isn't sitting on its hands in this area.

The issue to me is that solution providers need to either build the capability to go into a corporation and assess its printing volume and overall costs or team up with a manufacturer that can help them accomplish this.

Assessing printing costs, of course, requires more than just gaining an understanding of the volume. You also have to be able to assess the workflow of particular job functions. For example, are there forms that are used on a regular or even an irregular basis that aren't being printed locally but could be?

There are other technology needs that can be identified through a solid review of a printing and workflow assessment. For instance, a company that has large amounts of paper-based storage may find it more efficient to store the data electronically. This could require more storage and scanner equipment, not to mention the software to manage it all.

My point in all this is that sometimes the real opportunity in this business isn't necessarily with the sexiest, newest technology but rather in some of the more familiar areas that have merely been ignored but have the potential to make money by saving the customer some.

I have to run now; it's time to empty the paper-recycling bin in my office.

Make something happen. I can be reached at (516) 562-7812 or via e-mail at

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