Don't forget to look at the obvious things when focusing on business wide cost reduction was the clear message from a ComputerworldUK Management Forum I hosted yesterday. Printer estates and managed print services may not get the pulse of the board racing with excitement, but as IT leaders and analysts explained, the cost reductions still possible just might.
Peter Craven, project services manager for department store chain Debenhams, told attendees the retail sector typically prints 60 million pages a year, and that his greatest challenge is understanding the total cost of ownership in his managed print service relationships,
CIO author and industry analyst Dale Vile of Freeform Dynamics made a very interesting point - that managed print services must be viewed in the context of outsourcing and that progressive organisations use outsourcing well and see real benefits from it. He said IT leaders and suppliers that have a mindset focused on what services are delivered, not how they are delivered use outsourcing not as a defensive move, but a progressive move.
The event, which was sponsored by managed print services provider Lexmark, was warned by Vile that any form of outsourcing is prone to what the analyst called "estate drift", which he said sneaks up on IT leaders and starts increasing costs. Vile said it was imperative that everyone in these relationships constantly look for cost reduction opportunities, whether they are the supplier or the customer.
Craven of Debenhams has reduced printing costs across the retail shops of his organisation and is currently engaged in cutting printer costs at a new headquarters office for the Debenhams company. In his case he found a single supply contract for devices, maintenance and toner was more efficient, especially as his organisation has grown from 107 stores to 157. Most of the cost saving has been through giving the organisation greater analytics to know what it is printing. Quick wins for Debenhams were canning the A3 estate in retailer and the introduction of badge release printing in some parts of the organisation.
What was clear from the presentations and the following Q&A session is that printing is still a significant part of our organisations and therefore a significant cost. The myth of a paperless office or organisation remains very much that, a myth. So what of the future? Is the increase of mobile devices slowing paper demand? As a number of CIOs have expressed to me, there is a clunkiness about tablet devices, the iPad in particular that won't do anything to reduce printing costs on organisations. So it was interesting to hear Kevin Corne, global services director for event sponsors Lexmark explain that the future challenge and opportunity for his organisation and their client relationships is to develop processes that reduce print by guaranteeing better access and visibility of corporate information and documents on mobile devices. Corne explained that the capture phase of information management still has a wealth of opportunities for improvement and that if organisations can improve the quality of information capture then information flow and processes will benefit.
In an age of cloud computing, mobility and data analytics the printing side of our organisations is easily over looked, but it was clear from the engaged debate at yesterday's event that IT leaders are still grappling with this and that there are further business benefit waiting to be realised.