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Modern, otherwise tech-savvy organizations, regardless of size, value or vertical market, are experiencing an unlikely print epidemic—and it is spreading. While many companies have made strides in reducing paper consumption across their organizations, this article in Wired, "The Paperless Office: 30-Year Old Pipe-Dream?" cites an oft-quoted, statistical dark side of that green equation from the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers:

“There are over four trillion paper documents in the US alone, and this number is growing at a rate of 22%, or roughly 880 billion paper documents a year.”

It gets worse. A study conducted by AIIM, "The Paper Free Office – dream or reality?" found that paper consumption and photocopying is increasing in 32% of organizations. Further, while scanning and capturing documents increases efficiency, reduces associated resource usage and allows greater shareability and searchability, only “37% actively capture data from scanned documents and forms in order to facilitate routing or feed the process itself.”

In short, no matter how digital we get, it is clear that paper is here to stay, and overreliance on such traditional business operations poses clear risks: Costs can quickly skyrocket; keeping up with business workflow in print-driven environments is a challenge; and security, compliance and risk exposure continue to mount with every printer tray refill. Overdependence on paper jeopardizes speed, accuracy and enterprise visibility, but even as technology advances, people still tend to cling to their old business practices.

While the paper-free office is not a dream, the likelihood of offices adopting a 100% paperless model is slim to none. Overdependence can be reduced while efficiencies are increased, however, if documents are managed correctly. This explains why outsourcing print services is a growing trend among enterprise organizations seeking to cut back on the print addiction, save on operational costs and improve security procedures. In fact, the research and analysis firm Quocirca notes that almost 50% of large enterprises (over 1,000 employees), i.e., the companies where print costs can quickly shave into profits, now use some form of managed print services (MPS). An additional 20% are planning to use MPS within the next year, “reflecting the growing maturity of the MPS market.”

IDC predicts that the managed print services and document management market in the United States will increase from its 2013 value of $5.7 billion to $7.7 billion by 2018.

There is good reason that these companies seek to do so. The analyst firm Gartner has noted that mismanaging printing output can cut into annual revenue by up to three percent. Further, a study conducted by the consulting firm Phozito Group found that MPS can reduce print costs by an average of 30%. These findings strongly suggest that managed print services can help organizations more effectively control their print output and modify employee behaviors about print.

An efficiency-driven business, MPS offers greater visibility into operational costs and improves workflows. MPS also reduces the amount of unnecessary printing, identifies where costs can be cut and implements proven tactical solutions for document management, allowing client companies to focus on critical business operations and maximize productivity. Leveraging a print strategy within a corporation allows for MPS providers to analyze print habits, share recommendations, implement specific practices and monitor results to make adjustments where necessary. This reduces total overall cost, including those related to the amount of toner and paper consumed, number of devices needed and vendors worked with.

As technology continues to advance, the functions of MPS will adapt and become increasingly more dynamic. The analysts at IDC have predicted that the MPS and document management market in the United States will increase from its 2013 value of $5.7 billion to $7.7 billion by 2018. The projected growth of the MPS industry implies that, while print and other legacy business processes still have a place in the enterprise, outsourcing managed print services can help companies substantially ease the associated costs and drive changes in employee behavior that can help curb this epidemic.

Toni DuGal is the vice president of Solution Services at Novitex, where she leads the development of Novitex’s MPS practice. Prior to Novitex, she was the vice president of Professional Services and Transition at Xerox and director, US MPS Service Delivery at Hewlett-Packard. For more information, visit www.novitex.com/managed-print-services.