A deluge of data is consuming the world. Every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data1, the equivalent of 10 million Blu-ray discs.
Capturing and analysing the abundance of information relevant to your business has never been more important. Understanding your data better than your competitors is now an obvious competitive advantage. Particularly for, uncovering insights, detecting problems early and enabling better decision making. Yet, this thinking has rarely been applied to print.
So, what can we learn from the world of big data, and how could it apply to paper-based processes?
While we have always been able to drill down into printer activity and look at usage statistics and cost to some level, insightful analysis is difficult and overwhelming. Factors such as multi-vendor fleets, personal and networked printers and a geographically dispersed workplace further complicate the scenario. Pulling all this data together into a single format that’s easily understood and shared across the business is an even bigger headache.
What’s more, a huge piece of the puzzle is still missing, because people print not printers. Typically IT teams are lacking crucial information on user behaviour to make sense of the raw data.
According to Ken Weilerstein, Research Vice President at Gartner, today’s employees print an average of 400 pages per month2. Indicating print still plays a vital role within businesses. Given this continued reliance, a deeper grasp of usage patterns across printed, scanned, emailed and even faxed documents provides valuable insights. This data can act as a barometer on the health of an organisation. For instance,
High volumes of fax, copy, and print activity are usually good indicators of manual processes still in place.
Print devices today are smarter than ever and are constantly collecting data; what’s being printed, from which application, who is printing and where scans originated from. If not captured and utilised, it becomes a wasted opportunity to turn these insights into a vehicle for streamlining and success.
Data#3 has been working with HP to build user-friendly online portals, which provide a rich and easily digested, real-time view of your print related information. Even across multi-vendor environments. For example if you have multiple offices, you could leverage a Google Maps based view, with icons showing the location of printers. You can then drill down into the analytics on those devices and with a few clicks, turn this into charts and graphs for further analysis.
This gives a more detailed view of your printer fleet. Suggesting how to optimise the placement and usage of different printers, or identify when more devices are needed.
Take a look at the type of business insights to be discovered in this video.
Interpreting user behaviour and automating action has huge potential. Imagine automatically detecting unusual printer behaviour, such as someone printing 50 high gloss photographs late on a Friday, and automatically locking down the device until the user can provide some level of authorisation?
This is just one example of moving beyond centralised management to real-time behavioural analysis.
With a big data capture process, and an analytics capability linked to your print environment, you can enhance business processes, increase efficiency and implement the right print policies (that are actually effective). Transforming paper-based workflows in ways never before possible.
Big data and analytics are highly useful from a servicing perspective too. Earlier this year, HP released technology combining the industry’s first “Smart MFD’s” (that use extra-long life consumables and a multitude of sensors), with revolutionary “HP Smart Device Service” software . This results in more service cases resolved on the initial visit. Paving the way for truly proactive servicing, delivering a lower total cost of ownership and dramatically improved uptime.
Depending on the issue, these intelligent units can even be remotely serviced. In fact, with HP’s Page wide technology, the device can even service itself, in some situations.
It wasn’t long ago that dozens of hospital records were found on a Coburg street in Melbourne. The notes on over 30 patients included their names, ages, diagnoses, treatment plans, medications, how many days they’d been in hospital and whether they lived alone. Clearly incredibly sensitive and personal notes that should never have been printed.
Non-visible, security watermarks could have helped trace the documents to a specific device, and even the user who printed them. Enabling the hospital to remedy outdated paper workflows that allowed them to be printed in the first place. Ensuring they never face the risk and embarrassment of such a data breach again.
Managed print services have long focused on paper, toner cartridges, cost-per-print and servicing. But when you consider the underutilised potential of big data and analytics, along with the exposure of a network running unsecure printers, a managed print service should be so much more.
The bigger picture big data and analytics provides, enables significantly greater insight, into not just your printer fleet, but all of your business workflows and processes. Ultimately, this delivers cost savings, but you still need to have the basics right.
Connecting the paper and digital worlds means first dealing with internal obstacles like change management, staff training, security concerns and business cases. These activities all take considerable time and investment but are fundamental to success.
In truth this is digital transformation. Business process optimisation and workflow capabilities need to be a key point of difference when selecting a partner for managed print services, one with a balanced hardware, software and service portfolio.
As an end-to-end IT solutions provider, Data#3 are more than just a print company focused on increasing cost-per-page services. Our approach to managed print, includes big data and analytics as well as security, optimisation of your printer fleet, workflow management and cost management as part of a full IoT solution.
We’re changing what a managed print service should be.
1 Jacobson, R (April 24, 2013). 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day. How does CPG & Retail manage it? [Online] Available at: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/insights-on-business/consumer-products/2-5-quintillion-bytes-of-data-created-every-day-how-does-cpg-retail-manage-it/
2 Brandon, J. (January 25, 2016). Why paper still rules the enterprise. [Online] Available at: https://www.cio.com/article/3025928/printers/why-paper-still-rules-the-enterprise.html