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How Can the Imaging Industry Help Teleworkers?

Scott Hornbuckle

As I write this, I am sitting on my couch sipping on a cup of coffee with CNN in the background. I had several early virtual meetings that I planned to attend prior to going into the office. Soon, I will make the trip to the office to sit at my desk and continue with my day. This added flexibility makes me happy that I work where I do– and from several of the studies that I read, I am not alone.

Teleworkers are a growing trend in the workplace. Innovative technology such as webinars, electronic workflow and cloud services make this work environment possible.  According to a report from Telework Research Network, “Forty-five percent of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least part-time telework.”  In terms of the growth of this trend, telecommuting grew sixty one percent from 2005 to 2009. Based on this trend, with no growth acceleration, telecommuters will increase by sixty nine percent by 2016 totaling 4.9 million workers, and this is one of the more conservative forecasts I’ve found. According to Forrester Research, 63 million Americans (43 percent of the workforce) will telework by 2016. That’s a lot of people!

What does this mean for the imaging industry? With users working from home or on the road, hard copy becomes less effective as a means of transferring information. Users will need access to shared softcopy documents for their workflows. This will also change many MPS engagements. MPS started with enterprise companies with a large number of centrally located employees with several imaging devices. MPS providers have been challenged in finding a way to scale down MPS offerings. With teleworkers, will there be MPS engagements with a fleet of one? In order to do this, the imaging devices along with the service models will have to change. Devices will have to have embedded monitoring and reporting solutions that provide automatic supplies renewal. In order for profitability to be maintained, sending technicians to service devices will have to be practically non-existent. Perhaps there will be a device swap-out model. The user interface will have to be very intuitive, and the device must be user-serviceable for supplies replacement. The puzzle for how to do MPS for SOHOs will have to be solved.

However, that is only the view on how current practices must change. The imaging industry has been involved with the customers and how they move information for decades. We are in a place in which we can understand our customer’s workflows, know their pain-points and provide solutions. MPS will have to evolve well beyond print. There will be opportunities in digital workflow, remote monitoring of all IT in the home office, virtual meeting services, etc. The cloud presents a delivery platform that can scale down to the home office and presents us with opportunities that didn’t exist even a few years ago. We will have to become the trusted advisor and office partner for these companies, or we will find that our customer base has declined vastly.

Join us in Scottsdale for the Transform 2013 Global conference where we will be hosting an Office of the Future exhibit. Multiple vendors will be showcasing their newest innovative solutions that help workers gain efficiency and positively impact how they do business.

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