Canon unit aims to be one-stop shop for companies

A SURVEY of 615 SMEs conducted by United Overseas Bank found that half of the respondents indicated implementing productivity measures as a top priority. Reducing costs, as well as seeking new sources of revenue were also identified as priorities.

In the push for improving productivity, SMEs have turned to digitalisation - but the task is often daunting with high upfront costs and vagueness of the term.

At Canon's Business Imaging Solutions (BIS), many clients go to them to enhance workflow, raise productivity and cut costs by reducing redundancies through better print management.

Vincent Low, BIS director and general manager, said: "The starting journey for a lot of organisations to digitalisation starts with a networked copier. To be able to copy, print or to scan on a network from anywhere allows businesses to be more flexible in workflow."

BIS, the business to business (B2B) arm of Canon, seeks to understand client needs through proactive consultation.

Face to face meeting with the client and site visits establish what improvements can be made. The roll out of hardware or software is flexible, and may be implemented from the ground up or integrated with pre-existing third party systems.

"Our strength has always been in imaging, and that's where we normally start. We seek solutions for our clients through face to face consults and site visits, to find out what exactly they need," said Mr Low. "We are as good as a one-stop shop, and what we don't have, we are able to source for our clients."

Networking a printer has several advantages, other than a better workflow process when employees are not tied to a single printer.

Data can determine if specific printers are underused, and companies can relocate units to where usage is higher.

Less waste, better security

Security measures, such as requiring an employee to tap an access card before the actual document is printed improves traceability of sensitive documents.

"Sometimes employees forget to collect their print jobs after hitting print, and leave documents at the printer. This is wastage and a potential leakage of sensitive information," said Mr Low.

"We see a reduction in print volume by about 10 to 20 per cent when employees have to tap their card to print. They become more mindful of what they print, reducing wastage and improving security."

Through Managed Document Services, businesses may choose from a suite of printers and copiers with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, in which hardcopy scans of invoices are converted into an Excel template with the fields automatically filled.

The workflow process may then be continued within the software, with sign-offs and revisions tracked digitally.

Documents may be saved on a cloud or local server, depending on the client's preference for privacy.

Mr Low said Canon dedicates an average of 8 per cent of revenue to research and development to constantly innovate its product offerings and services.

While digitalisation and OCR tech might cause a reduction in demand for printers and copies, Mr Low sees it as opportunity.

"This opens up another business revenue stream, it is one more way to engage the marketplace. To stay relevant, I cannot just tell myself that I only want to sell hardware.

"We continue to learn and to evolve to bring what is best and current to the customer, while learning internally."