Embracing Digital Transformation with Print

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Embracing digital transformation with print

Many smaller businesses are still at an early stage of their digital transformation journey. But printers, especially MFPs, can be a vital step as businesses look to embrace digital practices – but how can resellers help customers to get the right solutions for their needs?

Digitalisation has been a focus for many larger businesses for years, and this has filtered down to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) too in recent years as they recognise the benefits of it and the need to keep pace with their rivals.  

But for some SMBs, digitalisation is a journey that they are still in the opening stages of, and many perceive there to be barriers to achieving this. But these can be overcome – and printers can have a vital role to play as SMBs begin to digitalise.

Gary Mellor, head of digital transformation services at Sharp UK, notes that there are some common barriers to digital transformation for smaller businesses. “Smaller businesses often operate on tighter budgets, making it challenging to invest in new technologies and infrastructure necessary for digital transformation,” he says. “With the cost of doing business increasing in recent years, budgets are now being stretched even further. 

“Understandably, many small businesses do not have in-house IT expertise, which can hinder their ability to implement and manage digital tools effectively. This can also make it difficult to evaluate which new tools would add the most value for them.  

“When new digital tools are implemented, they may not integrate seamlessly with existing systems and processes, resulting in disruptions and inefficiencies. This can also leave gaps in security. Small businesses may be particularly vulnerable to cyber threats and many lack the resources to implement robust cybersecurity measures.”

Futureproofing

Khalid Aziz, marketing director B2B, Canon UK and Ireland, says that digital transformation is a top priority for businesses looking to futureproof their workflows. “While there’s a growing opportunity to cater digitalisation processes to a variety of unique requirements, businesses often struggle to know where to begin,” he says.

“Many smaller businesses experience challenges when it comes to navigating the installation and integration of new technology, as well as any training required. It’s important for businesses to understand that digital transformation is not an immediate one-size-fits-all solution. Successful transformation requires continued investment from the business, supported by trusted technology providers. 

“Making document management as seamless and secure as possible should be the first step in the digital transformation journey. MFPs are fundamental here, with the ability to streamline and simplify print and scan functions into automated, all-in-one devices.”

Importance of MFPs

Indeed, MFPs can be important for small businesses as they start on the digitalisation journey. “Printers can be perceived as a more ‘traditional’ business investment, but MFPs bring a raft of efficiencies that can help deliver digitisation goals,” says Gary. 

“MFPs combine printing, scanning, copying and document sharing into one device, reducing the need for multiple pieces of equipment, resulting space and cost savings.

“MFPs can also be integrated with document capture and management systems, allowing businesses to digitise paper documents. This can improve and enhance internal processes for storage, retrieval and sharing of information. By automating document handling processes, MFPs can streamline workflows and reduce manual intervention, which in turn enhances productivity.”

Overcoming space issues

Terry Caulfield, chief commercial officer at Brother UK, notes that MFPs can also help SMBs to overcome another common problem – space. “Space is often at a premium for small businesses,” he says. “They’re typically operating out of small or home offices, which makes having a device that can print, scan and copy invaluable.

“We recently refreshed our entire portfolio of laser models, which includes our MFP, to make them quieter, more compact and better optimised for firms’ changing needs. Crucially, these devices are equipped with office-grade specs, which means customers don’t need to sacrifice on quality and our resellers have a wider range of options to support small businesses in enhancing their tech set-ups.

“MFPs, combining print and scan, are essential for firms on their digitalisation journey. Print remains a daily necessity for many businesses, but managing libraries of physical files presents a significant time drain. 

“Scanning boosts productivity and Brother Web Connect quickly provides the capability to send or store scanned files directly to email, to SharePoint and other popular cloud services, making them easily accessible, particularly for staff working remotely. 

“Business operations and remote working set-ups are continually evolving, and this presents a significant opportunity for print partners. As a vendor, we’re constantly working to create new tech, to meet changing demand and ultimately support businesses on their digitalisation journeys.”

Reseller tips

Support is something that many SMBs need, and resellers should be there to provide it as trusted experts. And they can do that by partnering with manufacturers, according to Khalid. “Resellers can help businesses navigate digital transformation and its challenges by focusing on building strong relationships with manufacturers to work collaboratively to provide a holistic end-to-end service, centred on offering expert advice to match customers with the right technology that meets their needs,” he says. 

“When it comes to MFPs, resellers must be able to advise customers on their benefits, especially when it comes to productivity, security and connectivity. For example, with Canon as a provider, resellers would need to familiarise themselves with our uniFLOW Online software that complements our range of MFPs, leveraging cloud-based printing and zero-trust architecture to support a secure and agile working environment.

“Digital transformation is a key driver for growth as businesses adopt more flexible working models. In the constantly evolving technology landscape, a business’ greatest asset can be a strong partnership with a trusted provider. Manufacturers and resellers in the sector now have an opportunity to look beyond the technology to provide customers with on-the-ground support to help them navigate their digital transformation journeys.” 

Close relationships

Resellers can also help SMBs are overcome the perceived barriers to digital transformation and to understand how printers can help with this – but close relationships with customers is vital for this.

“The first step resellers must take is understanding the specific needs and challenges of their customers,” says Gary. “This can include their current pain points, business priorities and future goals. Once their needs have been established, you can highlight the benefits digital transformation can bring to their organisation. These can include increased efficiency, cost savings, improved customer satisfaction and competitive advantages. 

“Resellers should also engage in open and objective discussions about how specific digital tools and solutions, such as MFPs and document management systems, can address their unique needs.” 

Cost benefits

Gary notes that resellers should also emphasise the importance of cybersecurity awareness and training and propose solutions can help safeguard their business now and in the future. 

This should also play a part in helping to overcome the barriers that SMBs often perceive when it comes to digital transformation. “Cost, expertise and integration are just some of the barriers that SMBs may face when it comes to their digitisation efforts,” says Gary. “However, this is where resellers can play a vital role, guiding businesses in their journey and cultivating longer term partnerships.   

“There are several ways in which resellers can achieve this. Showcasing examples of similar businesses that have successfully undergone digital transformation can help persuade SMBs of the tangible benefits and ROI. Proposing customised solutions that integrate seamlessly with existing systems can also help increase the likelihood of adoption. 

“Offering robust technical support can alleviate the burden of managing and maintaining new technologies. This may include training sessions and resources that educate SMBs about the benefits and ways to get the most from their technology investments.”

Increasing opportunities

With digital technology continuing to advance at pace, there will be increasing opportunities in this part of the sector in the coming months and years. “Advancements in technology, such as cloud computing, AI, and IoT will create new opportunities for SMBs to improve operations and customer experiences,” says Gary. 

“As more businesses embrace digital solutions, others will need to follow suit to remain competitive, driving further adoption. Furthermore, increasing consumer expectations for digital interactions and services will push SMBs to adopt more digital tools to meet these demands and enhance customer satisfaction.”

Resellers will be at the heart of this – and can reap the rewards, Gary adds. “Fundamentally, resellers that leverage emerging technologies and position themselves as knowledgeable technology partners in digital transformation efforts can not only support their SMB customers effectively, but also build and expand their own business,” he says.