by David Brown, ACDI
Here’s a shocking fact: Over the last 10 years, our society has become increasingly driven by data. OK, maybe that’s not so shocking. We all know data utilization is pervasive in both consumer and business-to-business technology. Decisions, processes and actions are all propelled by data analytics. This is no longer an opinion, but an undeniable fact. It’s the world we live in.
In those same 10 years, office print management has also become a data-driven industry. Some businesses have evolved better and faster than others. The point of this humble blog is not to rehash the early vs. late technology adoption argument or provide some pithy cliché about status quo. That’s what LinkedIn is for. The point is, if data is so crucial, how good is your data?
I’ll admit that good is a somewhat subjective term. We tend to look at data in terms of accuracy, reliability and actionability. In the early days of GPS, the highway data wasn’t as accurate as it is today, and it wouldn’t be uncommon to look at your GPS screen and see your car icon driving parallel to the road instead of on it. You would immediately look back at the road to make sure it was still in front of you and that you weren’t driving through a cornfield. Accurate? Somewhat. Actionable? Sure. If my car icon is parallel to 75 northbound on my screen and my actual car is on 75 northbound at the same time, I can make decisions on where to navigate based on that data even though it isn’t 100% accurate.
But what if we expand our current thinking around good data to include the concept of accessibility? How immediately accessible is the mission-critical data in your infrastructure? For example, one of the early instances of data accessibility was flowing meter data from device management platforms like FMAudit and PrintFleet into ERP systems to help automate billing processes. This created a tremendous amount of process efficiency.
How has data-driven managed print evolved from this?
Supply and part vendors can now access device supply data from disparate systems to provide supply fulfillment programs. They can then associate that with a reseller partner to produce customized shipping labels and return ship status to the reseller and customer.
Leasing companies provide solutions that can automate credit checks and lease documents by reconciling customer data with creditworthiness databases.
Service departments have remote access to device status and critical errors as well as online libraries of parts and remediation techniques.
If you’re a managed print reseller, you’ve invested heavily in building the infrastructure to provide a competitive program or you’ve partnered with a vendor or OEM partner to do so. Either way, you need reliable data to efficiently automate billing, place supply orders and provide service. You have good data – is it as accessible as it needs to be? If the answer is no, ask yourself these questions:
1. What processes do we currently have that, if automated, would help drive growth without additional personnel?
2. What processes do my team spend the most time with each month?
3. Are their parts of our customer’s experience that could be improved through automation?
In today’s competitive market, you can’t afford to be running an expensive, inefficient operation. Taking an honest look at the accessibility of your information and the efficiency of your day-to-day business processes might just uncover new opportunities to increase your bottom line and improve customer satisfaction.
Thank you MPSA for allowing me to contribute! I’m very interested to hear your comments around data automation and the next evolution of data accessibility in the managed print space.