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Document digitisation The future of print

Just one third of European companies are planning for a digital world with smart MFPs playing a key role in moving away from paper-based processes, a new IDC whitepaper commissioned by OKI Europe Ltd has found. At present, most European companies are using a combination of paper-based and digital documents in their day-to-day operations. However, a third of businesses are now planning for a future digital world.

In its latest white paper: ‘Are your business processes stifling your market opportunity? Cost-efficient print and document management through smart MFPs’, IDC points to the fact that many companies would like to digitise documents to reduce physical storage in premium office or offsite spaces.

According to Tetsuya Kuri, Vice President Marketing, OKI Europe Ltd, today, most businesses continue to use a combination of paper-based and digital documents in their day-to-day operations. However, research by IDC shows that, despite the fact more and more businesses having increasingly data intensive processes, only a third of European companies are planning for a digital world. This leaves the remaining two thirds at risk of falling behind the competition and missing out on the potential to make important time and productivity savings as well as leaving them open to ever growing security concerns.

In facilitating the transition away from paper-based processes, smart multifunction printers (MFPs) will have an important role in helping firms towards collaborative, digitised processes that are key to more efficient working practice.

Here, one of the key benefits of business process automation is in providing the ability to archive documents in one place. By providing access to scanning functionality, users can digitise information for searchable access and scan direct to a specific destination, eliminating the need for a paper trail.

Key features that a smart MFP brings to firms that are actively looking to increase document digitisation include the ability to scan direct to email, to a specified folder that may be on a network or cloud-based for further utilisation or archival. This makes the devices well-suited to the 66% of European companies which identify the ability to have archived documents in a single location as a key benefit of automating business processes.

Various document formats can also be scanned for output in PDF or PDF/A format. In this regard, smart MFPs also help meet longer-term, searchable digital archiving requirements.

Supporting the increasingly mobile workforce with ‘anytime, anywhere’ solutions

Another key factor driving forward the digitisation agenda is the continued rise in workplace mobility, which was identified as an important trend in the IDC research. By 2018, the analyst firm has predicted that 75% of the Western European workforce will be mobile and require access to accurate information in order to maintain and increase the productivity.

This follows an earlier 2014 study released by Atomik Research on behalf of OKI Europe, which pointed to an increase in the use of smart devices and flexible working among European SMBs. Here, the research showed that, as reliance on digital technology grows, the demand for printed documents is evolving, with nearly half of the businesses surveyed (45%) highlighting that they have staff with a requirement to print from a mobile device.

In direct response to market demand for digitisation, the rise in employee mobility and the desire for streamlined document workflows, smart MFPs are rising up the agenda and increasingly being viewed as an important workplace technology. Acting as ‘on ramps and off ramps to the cloud’, IDC makes the case that they are much more powerful and capable than the printing devices of the past.

This extends the role of the smart MFP from printing and copying (or ‘dumb device’) to a customisable digital transformation tool, paving the way for offices that are less cluttered with filing cabinets and making organisations much better equipped to move towards more productive workflows and increased document digitisation.

“As a workplace technology, smart MFPs have come a long way in a very short space of time,” Terry Kawashima, managing director, OKI Europe Ltd. “This is in direct response to market demand for digitisation and streamlined document workflow set out in this latest IDC whitepaper, paving the way for a future of fewer filing cabinets and increased document digitisation.”

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