OKI: document digitisation and the future of print
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.
In a recent 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.
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 percent 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 percent 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 percent) 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.
The deployment of smart MFPs is transforming working practices for the better in many fields, including healthcare, education and retail.
In healthcare, hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies require integrated, patient-focused solutions to improve efficiency and overcome key challenges such as preserving data confidentiality. Smart MFPs enable simple search and secure sharing of patient data with relevant healthcare professionals, cutting out time wasted on paper-based processes and ensuring delivery is not hindered by poor quality printing of medical images, for example. In addition patients can avoid wasting time queuing to see a receptionist to obtain their medical test results, by printing them on demand, with complete confidentiality, using their patient number directly from a smart MFP.
Like the healthcare sector, schools and universities face tough budget constraints. Yet they must also allow teachers and students to adopt new technology. Innovative smart MFP technology involving cloud and mobile solutions has a significant role to play here, enabling the use of cost-effective digital printing and document management, while reducing carbon emissions. Studies have, for instance, shown that colour increases learning and participation. Furthermore, from an administrative perspective the use of OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) enables smart MFPs to process admissions or tests in batches, sharing the output or results directly with the student in the classroom.
For retailers, competition in the move to omnichannel is increasingly tough, requiring operators to constantly refresh and customise what they offer so they stand out from competitors and retain customers tempted by online alternatives. Smart MFPs give retailers amazing flexibility, making high-impact, professional-quality promotional materials, banners, signage, price tags and other promotional items immediately available by printing on demand. Additionally templates can be created centrally and made available via the Smart MFPs customisable user interface enabling retail outlets to render, download and print creative templates, quickly and on-brand, while encouraging digital interactions by drawing attention to QR codes driving customers into stores and into their database.
OKI Europe’s portfolio of smart MFPs combine sophisticated software with advanced technology. These in-built tools provide businesses with a range of capabilities needed improve the way that documents are handled, managed and processed through an organisation and support the growing requirement for space and time-saving document digitisation in busy businesses.
For further information and to receive a copy of a whitepaper and related infographic, visit http://www.okieurope.com/smartmfps/digitalrevolution
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”