by Larry Trevarthen
Document imaging has many commonalities across businesses in different vertical segments. All require speed, high image quality, exceptional paper handling and affordable solutions. Today’s businesses are looking beyond the hardware for complete solutions that integrate into their document management systems, provide document security, and are fully network compatible. In many ways, these multifunction solutions can be placed horizontally across many vertical segments.
But there are important differences where dealers can customize their solutions to meet the more exacting needs of unique vertical markets. You need to provide a different solution for each of your different customers’ unique problems and be able to provide the right mixture of hardware and software to solve them. It’s often best to understand a specific vertical and specialize, as you’ll find your expertise in this vertical will place you above your competition who doesn’t have your detailed insights.
Documents including syllabi, homework assignments and reports are increasingly shared between teachers and students in cloud and electronic formats, but paper is still prevalent as well, making document imaging critical to the success of both student and teacher in today’s education system.
In addition to hardware, educational organizations also have to manage the cost of supplies. In some public schools, these expenses fall personally to teachers. High printing supplies costs, and storing and managing ink and toner so it doesn’t run out at the wrong time are all concerns of both teacher and student.
Today’s office equipment dealers and MPS providers are already equipped with a portfolio of hardware and print management solutions that can help public and private schools and higher education offer versatile, always-ready, low-cost printing. Today’s business inkjet devices are designed to print for years without replacing supplies and with very low ongoing operating costs. This allows students and teachers the ability to print affordably and dramatically reduce the hassle and costs of ordering and storing printer supplies, while having fully integrated copy, fax and scan capabilities readily at hand. And since most inkjet MFPs integrate with fleet management platforms, you can monitor device statuses and consumables, and automatically notify the proper personnel when an error occurs or replenish supplies automatically when they are running low.
Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry, and something as simple as a few wrong clicks or a printed page left in the output tray can lead to a fine — maybe even a big one. Today’s sophisticated devices and solutions can help to prevent breaches or accidental noncompliance. For instance, most platforms enable administrators to control which users have permission to access what file repositories while using the MFP, so they can’t print out a bunch of sensitive information that they have no business printing. And with pull-printing technology, print jobs are held in a virtual queue, and aren’t printed until the user authenticates at the MFP’s control panel and releases the job. Since the users must be at the MFP while the job prints, the chance of someone else retrieving the job first, or that the information will sit in the output tray for everyone to see, is virtually eliminated.
Financial firms print — a lot. Whether required by regulation or customer preference, monthly, quarterly and annual statements, loan applications, and other documents are ultimately printed at one point or another. But with how easy it is to integrate modern inkjet printers with core business systems, dealers can help financial firms automate transactional print processes and reduce costs.
For example, dealers can dovetail MFPs with their customers’ accounting systems and use variable data printing technology to automatically pull the necessary information and insert it into a specific field in a document, rather than have an associate do it manually. Not only is this faster, but it also reduces mistakes, like if someone spells the customer’s name wrong, and a new contract has to be printed.
Document imaging — print, copy, scan and fax — are very much horizontal, general office needs. And sure, at first glance, the entire spectrum of document imaging hardware and software does look the same. Everyone wants low-cost, reliable, easy-to-use and secure hardware and software. But at the same time, it’s the tasks that these businesses need to execute that dictate which combination of hardware and software makes the most sense. Dealers need to take note of the differences between their customers and develop strategies built around each of their customers’ unique problems, because targeted vertical solutions, rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy, not only improve their customers’ satisfaction, but also lead to greater profits and a broader customer base for the dealer.
Larry Trevarthen is Director of Business Imaging at Epson America, and leads the marketing of Epson’s WorkForce products into North America, including the revolutionary new 100-page-a-minute WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 printer. He is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience.