This Week in Imaging: There’s Gold in those Temporary (Transactional) Documents
This week, we visited the folks at Lexmark International at their offices in the Big Apple, and were reminded (yet again) of how printing still plays a key part in the business world. Lexmark briefed on some key announcements (more on this next month, as the information is under NDA), but a small transaction reminded us yet again of the continuing role of print.
While office print volumes continue to gradually decline in developed economies such as the United States and Western Europe, we still continue to believe it will play an important role for sometime to come. A case in point: as part of our meeting with Lexmark, we first had to sign in, and as part of the security rigmarole at the big skyscraper that’s home to countless companies and employees, the security staff used a PC cam to photograph us, then composed and printed temporary security passes replete with color photos. After the meeting, the passes were discarded.
This example illustrates that, in developed economies, while archiving of documents has increasingly become digitized, transactional documents are still printed, and these printed transactional documents range from everything from event and meeting passes, to receipts, invoices, credits, contracts, reservations, statements, airline boarding passes, labels, movie passes, etc. These types of documents are used and then discarded (and hopefully recycled). The advantage of these paper transactional documents is that they’re easily portable and don’t require a battery. (In contrast, many developing economies haven’t yet implemented digital systems for storing documents in digital form, and are still using printed documents for archival purposes.)
What’s required in a transactional printer? First, probably a compact footprint, as they’re often deployed in small spaces, such as on a receptionist’s desktop. Color printing may also be required, as well as: barcode printing; good image quality (security passes often include a photo of the visitor); the ability to print on various media types, sizes and weights; and a rugged, durable construction for deployment in places where they may see rough usage (such as in warehouses). Also required is easy maintenance that can be performed by just about anybody, as IT staff may not typically be on hand.
Keep in mind that the cost to routinely print items such as security passes (including the printer, plus media and imaging supplies) is highly lucrative per click. Also keep in mind that the hardware and workflow used for the creation of our foldable, pre-scored, and pre-punched security passes with color photos is probably the sum results of a clever integrator who has provided the ways and means for this customized application. That said, there’s no reason that the copier-dealer network can’t provide such a service when you consider that their vendors may already manufacture the hardware necessary for this particular application. The question becomes how eager are dealers to capitalize on such an application unless their vendor holds their hands, or supplies a turn-key solution for a particular market niche?
Also, do the vendors need to make it easier for and/or incentivize copier dealers to tap into the product lines of other divisions, such as point-of-sale (POS), thermal printing, and consumer/PC peripherals to help make something like this happen? Nearly every vendor segregates/delineates these product lines, and is probably not sufficiently staffed internally to address and facilitate integration across product lines. Would a bit more guidance other than “sell these copiers and these workflow solutions” (that are ironically positioned to help users print less) help copier dealers capitalize on the diverse printing applications that exist outside their familiar and well-trodden turf? As we discussed previously – There’s Gold in those Printers – Literally and Figuratively, but mining it requires not just hard work but getting outside the comfort zone.
This week in imaging: