New era of smart printing underpins digital transformation

David Preston is the Managing Director of Canon South Africa.

South African private and public sector organisations can use printing technology to support digital transformation, increase security and compliance, and lower business costs. 

David Preston, Canon South Africa’s managing director, says that local organizations are still missing the opportunity to streamline business processes, modernise operations, and improve efficiency.

Preston says that, despite all the talk about paperless offices a decade back, many organisations still rely heavily on paper documents. “The public sector, in particular, still relies heavily on paper documents. This slows down the process and affects 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 points out that the latest innovations in scanning and printing technologies have made devices smarter, more versatile and an essential part of the digitally transformed workplace.

Smarter scanning and printing integrates digital and paper documents into workflows and databases, supporting collaboration as well as mobility. Now users can scan, print, scan, access and retrieve documents anywhere. They can also share scanned documents to any device, cloud, or on-premises.

Preston says: “In Europe, smart printing devices are a standard part of office infrastructure. Smart devices can be used to manage and monitor network printing and scanning, which is why organisations are paying more attention to security and risk management. Printing anything was a common practice in the past, but this can lead to costly errors and expose sensitive data. With smarter devices, procurement managers and IT departments can now see who prints what and how much. They can also put restrictions in place around what people can or can’t print.”

Smarter devices allow distributed and mixed workforces to be more productive, wherever they are. They integrate into cloud-based document management solutions that are secure and can also support remote monitoring and management.

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 integrates seamlessly with mobile devices. Mobile users and hybrid workers are looking for easier ways to scan and copy 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.

Preston says that the evolution of a simple printer into a smart multifunctional device opens up opportunities for organisations to improve efficiency. “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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