How better user experience helps print devices drive digital transformation
Remember when a printer was just a printer? And all it did was print?
Those days are long gone. Today’s multifunction printers (MFPs) are smart and versatile. In addition to printing, scanning and faxing, they intelligently route and even translate documents – and a whole lot more.
By transforming paper, digital and mobile workflows, MFPs help users get work done faster and more productively. As a result, organisations operate more efficiently and optimise costs.
In effect, MFPs move companies faster toward digital transformation. And one of the key ways they’re doing that is by transforming the user experience (UX).
Putting user experience front and center
UX isn’t any one thing. It’s the collection of all the interactions that a user has with a device and the technology behind it.
So when it comes to your printers, it’s vital that users get an overall experience that makes it easier for them to work with each other, share information and stay productive. It’s why the most advanced printers on the market prioritise things like:
- Ease of use and familiarity. The latest generation of MFPs has a touchscreen interface that resembles a tablet or smartphone, and is just as configurable. Users pick the right app for the job, and choose others from an ever expanding app gallery.
- Help on demand. In the past, printers generated a huge proportion of helpdesk calls. Today, there’s no need to put in a support call or dig out user manuals to master a new feature. Right from the interface, employees can watch short, instructional videos at the device to get the most out of your business MFPs without involving an IT or service desk call.
- Format flexibility. In a digitally capable organisation, employees often encounter “hybrid” documents. For example, a contract starts its life online, then gets printed out for signature, and finally scanned and stored digitally. Organisations need an easy, reliable way to convert paper documents to digital and back to manage and use these “hybrid documents.”
- Deeper scanning. Your organisation’s information flows through your MFPs as documents. Your MFPs can make it easier for users to search for (and within) those documents. Today’s advanced MFPs have built-in optical character recognition (OCR) and when they scan, they create text-searchable PDFs. They also have auto-color scanning, to check whether a document is black-and-white or color and adjust accordingly. With scan and fax preview, users can even make changes before proceeding. They can also scan directly to an app such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Office 365.
- One-click workflows. Digital transformation counts for little if it doesn’t help you streamline your workflow. With today’s MFPs, complex or repetitive routines can be set up once and saved for future use. Your users might need to scan an invoice, then route it to the finance department, and save it securely in the cloud. Instead of forcing them to repeat themselves every single time, today’s MFPs let them do it all at the push of a button on the touchscreen interface. Managed print services providers can help clients build these custom workflows and apps.
UX behind the scenes
User experience doesn’t stop at the printer interface. Intelligent printers and MFPs have UX improvements that extend to print fleet management to simplify and streamline the process.
Ordering supplies proactively
One of the most common reasons people can’t print is that the printer has run out of toner. That’s frustrating for users, but it’s also the kind of situation that ends up surprising office managers and IT, who then have to run out to get more supplies – the kind of thing no one wants to be doing.
Automatic supplies replenishment helps avoid this scenario and keep you up and running.
Today’s intelligent printers can automatically monitor toner and ink levels, and “talk” to ordering systems. The entire process is hands-free, with no human intervention – apart from reading notification emails sent to the designated printer contact.
The system places an order well ahead of time, based on usage patterns, so you never run out. It also means you don’t proactively over-order – an all-too-common scenario – and find yourself with a storage problem. It keeps your carbon footprint down and helps you hit your sustainability goals by optimising orders and deliveries.
Keeping the show on the road
Another very common issue is a print job that’s hit a snag and creates a bottleneck as it holds up jobs behind it.
Modern MFPs now have “print around” technology built in. They move problem print jobs aside until a resolution is found, keeping the print flow going and ensuring productivity is unaffected.
MFPs are fully connected, networked citizens and active members of the Internet of Things. They constantly feed back data that you can turn into valuable business intelligence.
User analytics show who’s printing what, on which printers, in black and white or color, and on what media. The insight help your print services partner optimise your print environment. And with all that data at your fingertips, accounting and chargeback are easier than ever.
Moving to mobile
With mobile workers and mobile printing becoming increasingly common, organisations are now ramping up their efforts to make their print environment mobile-friendly. They know that getting mobile right will accelerate the pace of digital transformation.
And once again, UX plays a big part.
Cross-platform, user-friendly mobile apps allow untethered workers to print as easily as sending an email. There’s no need to install printer drivers or struggle with configuration. One click is all it takes to print quickly and securely whether users are at the office, at home or on the move.
UX and DX: a winning combination
It’s easy to think that digital transformation (or DX, as it’s sometimes called) is all about tablets and smartphones. But intelligent, next-generation MFPs play just as important a role.
These devices been completely reimagined and redesigned to enable the digital workplace and accelerate digital transformation. By taking the smartphone and tablet paradigm and making every feature and function push-button simple, MFPs make employees more productive and streamline the flow of document information throughout the organisation.
So if you’re currently working on plans for digital transformation, make sure you don’t ignore the role your smart multifunction printers can play.