“Today I was greeted by a stack of purchase orders to be approved. They weren’t sitting on my desk like they might have just a few years ago, there was just an email letting me know that they had arrived as part of a document workflow set up by WCC Business Solutions. I spent the next few minutes at my computer reviewing each image, signing them digitally, adding electronic sticky notes when needed and approving them to be paid. Once I finished, the images were gone and I was off to my next project; reviewing contracts for approval. Once again all of this was done with digital images as part of a pre-defined workflow process that was completely paperless yet started at the Lanier MFP from WCC Business Solutions.”
WCC Business Solutions is the premier solution, print, copier and MFP provider in Tampa Clearwater and surrounding areas.
The printing industry has changed over the last 10-15 years. More importantly, The role of the Multifunctional printer (MFP) has changed, starting with its name from copier to MFP. This client almost ordered another copier for the corner because that is how he always have done things.
In the early 2000’s an we were lucky to see a 2% connectivity rate across the customers they supported. This meant that the copier really was just that; a copier. It wasn’t until people started connecting them to their networks that they became MFPs with users relying on them for printing as well. It was then just a matter of time before people figured out that if you could push printing to the MFP, you could also scan from it. Suddenly scanned PDF files were everywhere.
The evolution of the MFP is really when we drove the business community towards document management. With scanning so readily available business owners saw that they could begin digitally filing their paper based records without the added cost of a dedicated scanner. These early adopters typically tried to emulate their file systems in Windows Explorer by carefully structuring a file system and naming the scanned PDF files. This was great for getting rid of the paper, but as volumes increased, it became quickly apparent that finding these scanned records was not as easy as first thought.
So a document management solution became the next logical step with many users simply looking for a way to scan, store and retrieve their documents. Thus our solutions department was born. Helping clients get rid of the paper while giving them a way to put hands on important information when the time comes. But like most things, technology changes and with it changed the expectations of the business market. More and more we were evolved into a solution provider as the MFP became less about printing and more about the flow of business information.
So where does the role of the MFP go from here you might ask? With image quality better than ever and the cost of sophisticated Optical Character Recognition becoming less and less, I see the MFP having strong potential for data mining and sharing. Already we are seeing a rapid expansion in the use of OCR in conjunction with the MFP. Data can now be reliably pulled from images and used to feed financial and CRM systems. With all of the talk around “Big Data” I would not be at all surprised to see the MFP become ground zero for the extraction of high value data from information being shared on paper.
The possibilities surrounding a changing business world are exciting and it’s not clear to many exactly where they’ll lead us. What is sure is that where document information is being communicated, it will likely continue to flow through the MFP.
Contact us at West Coast and see how we can transform your office into a core focused office instead of focusing on what it takes to keep it running.