By : Tracy Burrows For Canon 

South African public and private sector organisations can harness printing advances to underpin digital transformation, improve security and compliance and reduce business costs.

So says David Preston, Managing Director at Canon South Africa, who believes local organisations are still missing opportunities to streamline business processes and modernise their operations.

Despite the hype of the paperless office over a decade ago, most organisations still make extensive use of paper documents, Preston says. “The public sector, in particular, still relies heavily on paper documents. This slows down processes and impacts service delivery. Another challenge for public sector organisations reliant on paper documents is that those documents are stored in massive archives, which are not in a searchable format.”

South Africa’s government agencies are recognising the disadvantages of this, with departments such as Home Affairs recently announcing plans to digitise over 350 million inactive and active paper records for easier handling and storage.

Preston says: “A number of countries have strong digitisation agendas and have made significant progress in terms of giving citizens easy access to digital services, and when required, the ability to print out important documents securely. Driving a digital agenda should be a priority, and printing and scanning is a massive part of that.”

Printing gets smart

Preston notes that innovation in printing and scanning technologies has made devices smart, multifunctional and an indispensable component of the digitally transformed workplace.

Smarter printing and scanning integrates paper and digital documents into databases and workflows, supporting collaboration and mobility. Users can now print, scan, access, retrieve, share and manage documents from anywhere, and send scanned documents directly to an on-premises system, to the cloud or to a device.

Preston says: “In Europe, smart printing devices are a standard part of office infrastructure. Organisations are now paying close attention to security and risk management, and smart devices offer tools to monitor and manage network printing and scanning. Historically, people could print anything, which incurs costs and could put sensitive data at risk. Thanks to smarter devices, IT departments and procurement managers can understand who prints what and the cost of this. They can also put restrictions in place around what people can or can’t print.”

Smarter devices are enabling distributed and hybrid workforces to be more efficient and productive wherever they are, by integrating into secure document management solutions in the cloud and supporting remote monitoring and management by IT.

With AI, such as Canon’s IRISXtract software, smarter devices can recognise and categorise documents of all types, then extract relevant information such as the customer name, PO and addresses of an invoice and turn them into digital records.

Smarter printing also integrates seamlessly with mobile devices, as increasingly, mobile users and hybrid workforces seek better ways to scan and print wherever they are. Mobile apps such as Canon’s PRINT app teams a smartphone or tablet with a printer via WiFi for easy scanning and printing, and for checking printer ink status or managing device maintenance remotely.

The evolution from simple printer to smart multifunctional device creates opportunities for organisations to achieve greater efficiencies, Preston says. “Printers have gone from ‘dumb slaves’ in the 1980s to devices with PC-like capabilities, with a great deal more functionality and intelligence, which support security and compliance, collaboration, efficiency and productivity.”

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