Managed print services are expected to be worth over £2.5bn by 2014, according to a report by Ricoh and research firm IDC, but companies need to look beyond simply outsourcing print management and must reassess document workflow processes.
The report points out that managed print services is a growing trend, and that large organisations primarily see this as an ideal way to cut expenditure.
In fact, IDC predicts that this market will see a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 per cent over the next five years, driven largely by the ability of service providers to offer savings of 30 per cent on print costs.
However, IDC warned that an "overzealous attack on the bottom line" for short-term financial benefits could mean that organisations leave themselves at risk of "damaging productivity shortfalls" in the future.
One reason for this is a predicted sharp fall in the number of qualified knowledge workers employed in European businesses, meaning that organisations need to become more efficient.
IDC also claimed that knowledge workers currently spend an average of 7.4 hours a week "searching but not finding information" and "reformatting data from multiple sources", representing a costly loss of productivity.
With this in mind, organisations considering new managed print service contracts are advised to include document workflows that are critical to the efficient sharing of information.
"Document workflow initiatives are increasingly being identified as one of the last untapped areas of the IT infrastructure to deliver significant productivity enhancements," said Leigh Worthing, IDC lead analyst for European managed print services.
An IDC survey found that many companies in the UK and Ireland already include document capture, scanning and routing services in contracts.
Moving to the digital storage of documents has many advantages, not just in reducing storage costs, but in helping to ensure regulatory compliance.
"By effectively managing documents, companies can extend access to resources across the organisation, among mobile/remote employees and to partners," the report states.
Ricoh, which sponsored the IDC report, has its own Managed Document Services offering, which is based on business and employee work processes, and delivers a full support programme.
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