Printing innovation and digital workflows are smart as hell

January 24, 20185 minute read

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Thanks to advances in printing innovation, we’re evolving toward a workplace that intelligently optimizes its existing paper-based processes to save money, find efficiencies, enhance security, cut down on waste, and implement powerful workflow optimizations. Yes, paper has that big of an impact—and your business stands to gain in everything from productivity to security with a few upgrades.

As businesses increasingly pursue digital transformation initiatives, they’re taking a closer look at how smart paper—and smarter ways to use paper—can help them achieve their strategic goals. These digital strategies are changing document workflows in modern business.

Printing innovation powers smarter digital security

Paper workflows and processes have adapted to how people work—and that includes any lapses in security. Pull printing, for example, adds a layer of security to the printing process, only allowing an employee with the correct form of authentication—like a PIN code, a QR code, or a smart card—to complete a print job.

From a security standpoint, this dramatically diminishes the chances of a document being stolen or falling into the wrong hands, resulting in a sixfold reduction in printer-related security breaches. It also cuts down on waste, preventing unnecessary printouts. How many times have you gone to pick up your documents to find a discarded stack of forgotten jobs somewhere nearby, waiting to eventually be thrown out? Pull printing trains employees to be more mindful of printing resources and keep information safe at the same time.

Businesses with stronger security requirements can raise the bar even higher by taking advantage of document protection solutions that safeguard high-value documents in any kind of printing environment. Ultra-secure printers come with paper tray locks and shielding, which helps control access to pre-printed security paper and keeps bad actors from making off with sensitive documents.

Fraud prevention technology further protects mission-critical documents, issuing state-of-the-art watermarks (like the ones that recently outed NSA contractor Reality Winner) and generating a special pattern when someone copies or scans a document without permission. It’s like adding +1 Stealth to your IT team; the business will be able to pinpoint what happened and who did it.

From tree to print tray

Paper’s getting smarter right from the source, starting with how it’s made. Paper mills are innovating the way they generate paper, using biogas and other renewable energy sources in place of coal. At the same time, they’re finding smarter ways to conserve and recycle water, as well. As a result, the overall carbon footprint associated with paper production is shrinking.

Paper is even being adapted for purposes it’s never served before. According to the University of Washington, a new form of smart paper can detect the presence of water, sending electrical signals to issue an alert in the event of a water line break to keep water from escaping and causing damage. Paper—an ancient technology that’s been essential to humanity for millennia—is finding clever and intriguing ways to keep up with the times.

Get smart about paper use

If you’re chasing down a runaway print job that’s spilling your quarterly report all over the office floor, you may feel paper is the enemy. But paper’s just trying to do its job; excessive, wasteful use of paper is the real problem. Thanks to printing innovation, businesses are finding smarter ways to use paper more efficiently and optimize office sustainability.

For example, many multifunction printers come with smart scanning capabilities. If you put a piece of paper in the tray, the printer will automatically straighten it out for you instead of needlessly creating a print job that you’ll only throw in the trash. If you accidentally put in a blank page, it’s automatically removed from the copy created.

Want to boost your paper smarts even further? Your business can use the analytics insights that managed print services provide to cut down on paper consumption, greatly reducing your environmental impact and saving money in the process.

Digitize paper-based workflows

Of course, as businesses pursuing a path of digital transformation know, an even greater opportunity lies in digitizing paper-based workflows. Digitizing workflows provides tremendous business value on multiple levels. Document capture solutions efficiently and securely route documents to their proper locations, streamlining the flow of paper and electronic information that companies must manage, while also making sure that important documents don’t end up being accessed by unauthorized parties.

Once routed to their proper home, documents must be easily accessed and referenced on demand. That’s where document management solutions come in, giving busy professionals quick and convenient access to precisely the information they need and have permission to view. This is especially useful for businesses in regulated industries that face compliance concerns and must tightly regulate access privileges to certain information. Workflow automation takes things a step further, fully automating document-intensive processes so that the business can gain a competitive edge and boost the bottom line.

With the benefit of such digital strategies, businesses are becoming paper-savvy. Paper is getting smarter—and businesses are using it far more intelligently than they were just a short while ago. Whether by capitalizing on printing innovation, securing sensitive information, or optimizing paper-based workflows for digital transformation, any business can make impressive strides toward a smart paper future.

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