Flexible plan can save money

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 March, 2010, 12:00am

The company sending technicians to top up the toner and service photocopier machines could soon be despatching information technology (IT) professionals and office managers.

Companies leasing copiers, phone equipment and other equipment to offices are now extending their services to management and the operation of computer networks, as businesses seek to maximise profits by outsourcing certain functions.

This enables clients to free their own staff from the burden of time-consuming problems, such as machinery maintenance, and allow them to apply their energy to what they were trained to do - whether that be reaching sales targets or being creative in the publishing industry.

Today, more companies are opting for flexible service plans from providers such as Fuji Xerox or Ricoh. Money is saved and offices can get print and computer equipment upgraded if needed. It also has green attributes in that it can be used to cut down on print waste and save paper.

Managed plans, such as those offered by Ricoh, involve deals with charges based on pages printed or a managed-document service whereby an office's network of machines is looked after by a company that is more than simply an equipment supplier.

Wilma Wong, senior manager at Ricoh Hong Kong's marketing communications, says: 'We can run the whole print room for them. They don't need to pay out large amounts of money on assets and can upgrade and change the machine before the end of its life.'

Plans are used by more than 80 per cent of Ricoh's clients. Offices are now buying software that matches the machines being provided, with an input to the computer system's network.

'We have also expanded the scope to IT service for smaller companies using qualified technicians,' says Wong, who adds that serviced office providers, with multiple locations, prefer using one vendor. 'In terms of office efficiency, we have the competitive edge, with a two-hour response time to fix the machine.'

A document management solution not only means cost savings and efficiency but also gives the serviced office greener credentials. Fuji Xerox used the launch of its ApeosWare Management Suite this month to illustrate this point. The new system enables customers to manage all their multifunctional devices and printers with a single software solution through a single interface.

Such devices give companies complete control over print jobs, with users able to retrieve documents from anywhere in the office - even in remote locations. 'By requiring authentication, wastage is reduced by limiting printing to authorised users. It also ensures high security, with confidential printouts accessible only to predetermined users,' says a spokesman for Fuji Xerox Hong Kong.

'Policies such as compulsory print in duplex or in mono colour may also be imposed. This not only reduces paper and ink costs, it also helps cut down on unnecessary printouts, which is greener for the environment.'

A study by technology market analyst Springboard Research found that Australia and China are the leading markets for managed print services in the region. It estimates the market in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, will be worth US$1billion in 2012 compared with US$392 million in 2007.