by Toni DuGal | 7/20/15
As I outlined in the first part of this series, “The Prehistoric Days of Document Outsourcing,” the early days of the document outsourcing industry were some scary times – void of color, personalization, transparency regarding total print spend and visibility into siloed operations. But just like a fine wine, things get better with age.
Technology has played a major impact in the innovations that this industry has seen over the past five years. Advancements including the cloud and automation have enabled greater visibility into costs, increased efficiencies, and improved workflows for organizations.
Automation: The Driver of Customer Communication’s Engine
Many corporations regardless of size or vertical market lack a formal end-to-end process for creating, reviewing, editing and distributing communications, as a result of siloed workflows. As we’ve entered a pace of business that is equally demanding and complex, organizations need to be prepared to communicate with their target audience in the channel they prefer – print, web, e-mail, social or even SMS. If everything is not aligned on one automated workflow document platform, it can create disconnect between different departments, leading to errors and increased risk. Rather than focusing on effectively communicating, employees waste valuable time monitoring for version control and chasing down the whereabouts of important documents.
Consider a financial services company with a 20-person marketing department, where 10 work in the New York office, five in the Los Angeles office, and the remaining five remotely. Each office has their own system and processes for creating documents. As a result, materials lack consistency and keeping tabs on who has edited what or where a piece of collateral is located is a big risk and productivity drain.
In order to combat these problems, companies need to utilize automation tools that ultimately save valuable time and resources as well as increase operational efficiencies, maintain brand consistency, and mitigate risks. For example, creating standardized templates via a web-based system helps achieve consistent communication practices throughout the process as only certain sections of the documents can be edited. The automated workflow document platform also tracks all changes that have been made in any given document as well as who has made each individual change providing 100 percent transparency and an audit trail for compliance purposes.
Print’s Cloud Age
In a recent ZDNet article regarding the cloud, it is estimated that ”42 percent of IT decision makers will increase spending on cloud computing in 2015, and enterprises with over 1,000 employees are projected to increase their cloud spending by 52 percent.” This statistic provides insight into the growth and realization that more companies are transitioning or investing in the cloud – even document outsourcing vendors are getting into the act.
As cloud has gone mainstream for enterprises, the partner ecosystem is plentiful and the market has seen its share of new relationships with leading cloud providers. For example, vendors are now leveraging cloud-based infrastructures for a variety of use cases, including enabling customers to produce, distribute and digitize materials at scale 24/7/365 in a secure and fully redundant manner. While others are using it to deliver MPS, which allows the industry to quickly respond to user-generated requests, provide proactive fleet management via real-time device monitoring and offer users a 24/7 self-help portal.
However, as I discussed in a previous Imaging Channel article, “People: The Driver for the Future of MPS,” striking a balance between remote and in-person support is a crucial component for an organization’s productivity. While there are many valuable aspects web-based help, there is no substitute for on-site service. Having staff at the organization provides an important benefit as they are able to address the smaller issues that inevitably arise, such as fixing paper jams, loading paper and replacing toner cartridges, which allows employees to give their full attention to more important job related tasks. Ultimately, tools like self-help portals provide a great benefit, but they don’t simply replace the human element.
Future of the Market
As the document outsourcing industry moves forward with automation and the cloud, businesses will need to continually adapt in order to maintain a competitive advantage within the market. As workforces become increasingly mobile and target audiences more sophisticated, corporations will need to continue to remain at the forefront of innovation. Mobile print and document management along with more advance analytics will be at the center of this movement, which I’ll discuss more in the final post of this series.
Toni DuGal is the Vice President of Solution Services at Novitex, where she leads the development of Novitex’s MPS practice. Prior to Novitex she was the Vice President of Professional Services and Transition at Xerox and Director, US MPS Service Delivery at Hewlett-Packard.