More than 80 percent of small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) want to eliminate paper usage from the way they invoice, report financials, manage legal and human-resource forms, and handle other time-consuming processes, according to a recent Xerox survey.
The survey of more than 1,000 companies in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany shows respondents expect to make the change during the next 12 months.
Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents confirmed that a significant amount of time is wasted on paper-intensive processes, and 6 out of 10 view this as having a major impact on their bottom line. SMBs in Germany (51 percent) and the United States (50 percent) stated they spend the most time, followed by the United Kingdom (43 percent) and France (37 percent).
According to Xerox, as SMBs prepare to digitize their paper processes, most will turn to experts for recommendations, since only 1 in 5 respondents are aware of existing paper-free solutions in the market. The study shows that 47 percent will go to an office-equipment dealer, 1 out of 4 will look to their IT reseller, and 37 percent will turn to the product manufacturer.
“Change can be overwhelming for SMBs, but there are many ways to evolve in the right direction,” commented John Corley, president of Xerox’s Channel Partner Operations. “As SMBs embark on their digitization journey, it’s important to understand how technology – such as apps on printers and managed print services – can support their vision and strategy to achieve successful digital transformation.”
The survey, which was conducted by independent market-research firm Coleman Parkes Research, shows increasing productivity as a top priority for SMBs, along with growth, and reduced printing costs. Other findings include:
- Overall, 28 percent reported they are well advanced with implementing their plans to digitize paper processes, with France (33 percent) being furthest along.
- U.S. SMBs are lagging in their plans to digitize processes, with 41 percent citing they have just started, compared to the average (37 percent).
- Twelve percent of all SMBs are one to three years away from implementation.
- In addition to focusing on digitization and automation, SMBs are also exploring other areas to improve productivity, including:
Managed Print Services (MPS): Of the SMBs surveyed, 42 percent have an MPS contract, while 40 percent said they plan to put an MPS contract in place within the next year. Sixty-six percent spend more than $1,000 each month for printing activities, a significant cost of doing business. Companies with MPS contracts cited reduced costs, decreased paper consumption and improved tracking of print costs as top benefits.
Mobility: By the end of 2017, 23 percent of SMBs believe mobile devices will be completely integrated with their workflow processes. Today, 66 percent of SMBs include mobile printing in their mobility initiatives, while 27 percent plan to within the next year. The main drivers include increasing productivity of mobile workers, meeting customers’ needs for remote information, and improved and faster customer service.
Security: It’s becoming increasingly important for SMBs to secure business-critical information across all technology with the rapid growth of data. As a result, 56 percent of SMBs currently include printers and/or MFPs in their security strategies.
SMBs in the United States and Western Europe spend $40 billion annually on office equipment and related print services (CSI, Dun & Bradstreet, Harte-Hanks, Xerox Analysis, IDC). Xerox notes that helping these businesses improve their processes has been a major focus for it, as Xerox has introduced a variety of solutions to help SMBs automate processes, improve mobility and reduce printing costs through MPS. Xerox’s ConnectKey technology also automates manual paper-dependent processes and makes it easier for mobile users to collaborate and work more effectively, even outside of the office. Xerox also leverages partnerships with Cisco and McAfee for a multi-layered approach to securing printers.
- October 2016: InfoTrends Survey: 40 Percent Says Less than 25 Percent of their Business Content Remains on Paper
- July 2016: This Week in Imaging: Who’s “Still” Printing? Solar-Powered Print and Copy; More
- January 2016: Brother Surveys: Printing Still ‘Vital’ in Business, Paperless Office Still Far Off