Why Businesses Continue to Prioritize Printers and Copiers in a Digital Age



By Jim Molis — Kansas City Business Journal


Duffy L'Huillier, who started his career selling office printers and copiers for the Gibbs family in Kansas City, recalls an instance in 1994 when a friend asked him what he was going to do next. Surely, the world would be paperless by [the year] 2000, L'Huillier’s well-meaning colleague said.

Yet, though the next millennium has since come, the future that L'Huillier’s friend predicted has not. And, L'Huillier still sells office printers and copiers, albeit ones that are much more advanced than their 1990s predecessors.

“Print is adapting. It’s not going away,” said L'Huillier, who recently became a Kansas City sales manager for St. Louis-based GFI Digital, also a Gibbs family company. From letterhead to advertisements to meeting agendas, businesses run on printed materials. People still want something to hold.

Paper matters Like L'Huillier, Andrew Gilstrap sells multi-functional printers that help companies streamline workflows and create quality documents. And it often starts with scanning.

“The MFP [multi-function printer] is the on-ramp and the off-ramp to your network,” said Gilstrap, who recently moved to Kansas City from St. Louis as managing director for GFI Digital.

St. Louis-based GFI Digital's Duffy L'Huillier (left), Kansas City sales manager and Andrew Gilstrap, managing director.



One user scans a document (the on-ramp). Then other users can print it at their convenience (the off-ramp).

In addition to being scanned, documents can be stored and shared through MFP applications like Google, SharePoint and Dropbox. Users can easily access and print important information.

Gilstrap, for one, prefers reviewing printed materials in meetings with teammates or clients rather than working through emails or online documents. “It’s a more personalized approach, and it fares better with your customer,” he said.

Print materials also work better for marketing and sales. Prospective customers are 80% more likely to review a printed advertisement than to open an unsolicited email, L'Huillier said.

Also, he noted, direct-mail pieces generate a 35% higher response rate when combined with other marketing efforts. Companies can produce higher-end sales and marketing pieces themselves given the advanced capabilities of today’s office printers.

“We’re still seeing prints at a high level, and the marketing departments at some of our customers are doing more with machines that are efficient, affordable, and easy-to-use,” L'Huillier said.

Print environment powers productivity Researchers project the digitization of paper-based processes to accelerate as companies realize the benefits of using smart MFPs to capture documents and automate workflows.

“If, for example, an accountant inputs invoices from 100 customers each month, their company may be able to scan those documents directly into its accounting system instead,” Gilstrap said. An efficient document management system could eliminate 80% of the work, perhaps reducing as much as five days of labor to as little as a few hours, he said.

Eliminating low-value tasks would then free that accountant to contribute to help the company strategically. “You're paying them to be an accountant, not to enter invoices,” L'Huillier said.

L'Huillier urges companies to seek out processes to streamline. “If you’re looking to add more administrative people, it’s a perfect time to look at your document management system. Sometimes you can have technology take over the inputting of certain documents and technology works 24/7, 365,” he said.

Print audits produce savings L'Huillier also recommends that businesses evaluate their needs and print environment for potential savings. A company may be able to save money by printing letterhead in-house rather than outsourcing it, for example.

A business also could be overspending on printing if it has too many or not enough devices. It could identify any such discrepancies through a print audit that looks at how many devices it prints to and how much each prints.

For example, a business with 25 printers and five MFPs may find that only two of its 30 devices print 1,000 pages or more a month. Meanwhile, perhaps 80% only print 50 pages a month or fewer.

If this were the case, the company could save money by reducing the number of printers it supports. It also could explore the possibility of reducing its total ownership costs by hiring a company to provide managed print services. MPS providers offer services like handling print volumes and maintaining devices.

Businesses rely on printers and copiers to keep their teams productive and their clients happy. Having the right devices and configuring and supporting them correctly are important. Though we may live in a digital world now, it isn’t paperless. Nor will it likely be soon.

GFI Digital offers two of the leading copier brands in the industry. Learn more. Jim Molis is a writer for The Business Journals Content Studio.