We know the hot topic today is all the ways that the world of print has changed forever. The past two years have certainly transformed many aspects of business. However, we should discuss the ways the print imaging business has not changed, and how to capitalize on tried-and-true business models in 2022. 

To increase productivity, all businesses need to ensure efficient workflows and processes. The imaging industry has spent decades perfecting a managed print strategy built around A3 and A4 devices and standardized print workflows. That formula remains effective, but now needs a few revisions. 

Remote and work-from-home staff are changing the way many organizations operate, but the trends we see are toward hybrid workflows that integrate the best aspects of paper-based processes with a more paperless, digitized workflow. Rather than downplaying the need for print, it offers new and interesting opportunities for those willing to embrace the cloud and automated processes.  

Revolution vs Evolution

What we expect to see in 2022 is less of a revolution, but more an evolution of the existing managed print service model. Though print volumes have been declining, successful service providers are finding ways to support customers with hybrid, cloud-based solutions. 

Embracing cloud-based print and scan solutions offers a central place for automatic filing and indexing scanned images. Pre-configured scan workflows are ideal for scanning batches of repetitive documents and operation records, e.g., orders, invoices, picking lists and delivery notes. Some solutions will even detect different file types, split each batch, and use the unique text-block OCR to create the document title or populate metadata. The user only needs to validate pre-populated data at the end.

In addition, it is increasingly important for organizations to have capabilities that allow print jobs to follow users from device to device, allowing print jobs to be released at any printer within a user’s location, even if working at another location.

Another advantage of cloud-based print management is that with built-in features for managing scanned or imported documents, you don’t need a document management system to intelligently separate documents. If your staff is working from home with a professional grade or home office sized device, they can scan, batch and file documents, process them in the cloud and validate from their desk.

Intelligent forms recognition also ensures documents are recognized and pre-populated with the correct file name and metadata. The automatic data population makes time-consuming and error-prone manual filing and indexing obsolete. Thanks to pre-populated file names and metadata, it is fast and straightforward to search and retrieve documents when they are needed.

Automation = Innovation

In addition to making office teams more effective with cloud-based services, we predict automation will make print shops and production printing more effective. We have seen many printers struggling to hire and retain staff in today’s business environment. As staffing issues complicate business operations, automated workflows will be essential for high-volume work. Many of our printmaking partners have found that bottlenecks are the result of poorly designed print workflows – a condition that workflow automation can cure.

We also find that error detectors help track a job’s progress, prevent errors and optimize printing speeds, making print departments more profitable. Additionally, automation better supports on-demand print production in small quantities to make printing sustainably profitable in the digital age. Investment in automation leads directly to profitability because it minimizes plant downtime and maximizes productivity. 

We have seen that as traditional printing volumes decline, an increased focus on digital imaging and document management will be increasingly important to businesses. The goal for print providers in 2022 will be to help customers implement hybrid workflows, manage home printing, and deploy data security to a wider range of workplaces. In this highly competitive market, those who best understand cloud-based printing and automated print technologies will continue to thrive in the coming years.  

Patrick joined the Gordon Flesch Company in 2006 as Territory Account Executive and worked his way to become VP of the Sales for the company’s Western Region. Today, Patrick is President of the Gordon Flesch Company.