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4 common hybrid workspace challenges and solutions

As organisations strive to reduce printing waste, Kyocera’s information management tools turn data into a competitive advantage to boost efficiency, security and customisation.

“Every company has to reinvent itself constantly,” says Oscar Sanchez, president and chief executive of Kyocera Document Solutions America. And as more companies move to a paperless environment, Kyocera is responding with a shift “from the printed document to the digital”.

Traditionally known for printers and multifunction printers, Kyocera now leads the charge to enhance information management and make documents more sustainable. While some printing will remain inevitable, Mr Sanchez acknowledges that the most sustainable document is the one that is never printed at all.

He is spearheading a transition in how organisations produce, share and consume information, following Kyocera’s promise to help customers “Put knowledge to work”. Digitisation is central to this effort, with Kyocera facilitating not only printing, but also document-scanning using multifunction devices. Firms can assemble those documents in Kyocera’s enterprise content management (ECM) systems, so that analysis of the data they contain - and data about how they are used - can generate insights and drive better decision-making.

“Digitisation helps you be more efficient and respond quickly to changing market dynamics,” says Mr Sanchez. To do that, information must not only be instantly accessible, but also structured.

Governing information with cloud printing

When combined with its cloud-printing technology, Kyocera’s printers and ECM systems also help organisations improve governance. In discourse about sustainability, the “G” in ESG often takes third place behind the environment and society, and cloud printing gives firms a clear opportunity to address this. Using these systems offers control of who prints what, minimises waste by preventing printing mistakes, and protects confidentiality by releasing print jobs only when the person who ordered them arrives at the printer.

“It’s very difficult to control our information with paper-based processes,” says Mr Sanchez. “That’s why digitisation helps. And at the same time you’re reducing the use of paper and energy.” Cloud printing and ECM also improve security as organisations adopt remote and hybrid working practices. “Having physical documents is always a risk because they are moving across the organisation and sometimes going to private homes; digitisation helps you control use and access.” Adding to security, new documents coming into the system are automatically encrypted.

Enterprise content management and the evolution to content services platforms

Mr Sanchez distils the concept of ECM as simply managing the whole life cycle of a document: “You capture it, store it, organise it, and run workflows with that information.”

Printed documents scanned into an ECM system can be made searchable with optical character recognition, which also prepares them for big-data analysis. Tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can do the same for handwritten documents, while voice recognition can convert audio files into text.

The metadata on who owns, accesses, shares and prints documents is also revealing, with the potential to uncover what is an organisation’s most valuable knowledge. That insight can contribute to setting performance indicators, measuring outcomes and making data-driven decisions. “We sell the technology to turn information into knowledge to be used as a competitive advantage,” Mr Sanchez says.

Content services platforms (CSPs) are a natural evolution of ECM. As organisations have adopted numerous information management systems - including tools for accounting, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning - a CSP can consolidate that knowledge and make it easier to put to work.

Turning knowledge into high-efficiency communications

At the end of the document life cycle, organisations can extract intellectual property from ECM and CSP systems - including product, customer and staff data - to create customised documents such as direct-mail flyers, invoices and educational materials.

Some of these call for massive print volumes, reaching 1-2m pages per month across multiple smaller print runs. Kyocera has seized this chance to show its flair for achieving cost efficiencies while reducing environmental impact.

For example, the TASKalfa Pro 15000c production inkjet printer has been designed to replace toner-based printers for high-volume custom printing. Using Kyocera’s proprietary technology and eco-friendly, water-based ink, it has solved sustainability challenges and carved a niche in a new market segment.

Previously, Kyocera’s customers in direct mail might have printed personalised black text on pre-printed colour sheets carrying brand logos or marketing graphics. This could lead to millions of wasted sheets of paper if a campaign ended earlier than expected. The TASKalfa Pro 15000c lets users print full-colour graphics, potentially tailored per document using automation or generative AI, along with their custom text. This eliminates paper wastage and encourages rapid and creative customisation. The cost savings can be astonishing - Mr Sanchez estimates up to 70% of printing costs can be eliminated by switching to Kyocera’s inkjet alternative. “It’s why many customers are running to this kind of solution,” says Mr Sanchez. “The same quality as toner at a fraction of the cost” is a key selling point.

One customer benefiting is JHL Digital Direct, a Wisconsin-based direct-mail printer, which saved around 50% on costs and “delivered on their promise to customers of a faster, better and more affordable printing solution”.

Kyocera also uses its own solutions to achieve greater control over printing and information management across 60 locations and 2,000 employees in the United States. Cloud printing has improved governance, reduced costs, and saved energy by eliminating the need for printing servers. Employees using the technology can help to refine it, ensuring continual improvements in user-friendliness and functionality.

Automating the future of information management

When thinking about what the future may hold for printing and information management, Mr Sanchez shares a widespread excitement about AI’s potential to reshape how industry approaches a variety of tasks. And he emphasises that AI is already in use on documents, enhancing the quality of low-resolution scans and enabling handwriting recognition.

In the near future, software might use automation and AI to draft a contract using information from an ECM or CSP system. Mr Sanchez stresses the importance of 100% accuracy: “You’re offering this to very sensitive industries”, and it is important to avoid hasty solutions with known issues like generative-AI “hallucinations”. But he notes that not considering AI in product development would be a missed opportunity, since OpenAI already estimates that 80% of workers are likely to find some of their tasks affected by the technology.

That will put pressure on everyone, including Kyocera’s people, to provide value in the 20% of their jobs that computers cannot do. Propelled by the command to “respect the divine and love people”, Kyocera will continue to nurture humanity in an age dominated by technology.

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This article was produced by EI Studios in collaboration with Kyocera Document Solutions. Find out more.