In an Age of Digital Transformation, Business Printing Remains Vital
The ability to create high-quality, customizable printed materials in business settings is vital in 2021. That may be an unexpected statement given the pandemic-related tendency toward work-from-home solutions and SOHO-friendly office products, and a general need to be sure that any technology introduced covers the “new remote workforce” or the “hybrid office” or “digital transformation” — any one of those terms that’s been shoved into the collective consciousness over the last year.
You’d almost think no one will ever go to an office space and print again. That could not be further from the truth.
Sure, some types of documents that were once printed have gone digital, and will probably stay that way, but there are still plenty of businesses that continue to operate as they did before the pandemic, with one difference perhaps being the added workload that’s been put on their in-house teams and operations. Healthcare, for instance, has seen increased patient flows leading to more billing and more paperwork. Education – both K-12 and higher ed — spent a year figuring out ways to handle the needs of virtual learning before most districts and systems returned to in-person classes in the 2021-2022 school year. Inhouse print shops are shouldering a huge load and innovations that can help automate and streamline jobs are welcomed.
Print remains necessary. Efficiency becomes vital.
One of the lessons learned during a year of virtual education was that virtual education is not ready for prime time in all locations, for all students. There were several reasons for this, of course, but one issue that became immediately apparent was the technology gap — in spite of efforts by some school districts to provide students with electronic devices, the truth was that not every student had equal access to computers or tablets, or internet connectivity to access online materials. Printed materials remain vital in education, and so producing those materials in a cost-effective, efficient manner that doesn’t further burden staff or budgets is critical.
Professionally bound booklets – think spiral notebooks and planners for student journals or workbooks, for example — are great teacher tools, but could be time consuming and cost prohibitive to produce. New tools and technologies that can create ready-to-bind documents in large or small quantities and at fast speeds have changed that. Professional production print devices now come with sophisticated finishing options including integrated punching systems. These systems pre-punch holes for several standard binding systems from 3-hole die sets to 44-hole color coils and offer the ability to make on-the-fly changes. Capable of speeds of up to 120 pages per minute, these solutions give educators the ability to create customized learning experiences that are accessible to all students.
It’s not just teachers who can benefit from customized bound documents, of course. Healthcare organizations can create custom patient care plans, corporate offices can create investment binders, and anyone can put together eye-catching marketing materials. The possibilities are endless and the costs manageable.
Customization, speed and the features of Fiery
The need for customized printed materials goes beyond the finishing options, of course. The materials themselves often need information from different sources printed on various media. Fiery print servers allow users to control workflows, creating faster response times and greater control over the finished product.
Often, individual pieces in an overall run need to be customized with personalized data – think invoices, grade reports and the like. Using variable data printing (VDP), each piece within a production run can be personalized, allowing a hospital’s financial department to make billing more efficient, for example. Large touchscreen displays allow jobs to be managed from the device itself, with the ability to make on-the-fly corrections and adjustments. In-plants can process orders and manage short-run print jobs more efficiently, while controlling the quality of the output. Even monochrome documents can be “color” critical — improved tonality, high image quality and clear, sharp text are essential to make black-and-white documents stand out and be readable.
The more things change …
The world has changed in a lot of ways since March 2020, but not everything is different. Life goes on and the needs we had before anyone had heard the term “COVID-19” still exist. Office buildings have not all been abandoned — some have been consolidated or relocated but they still exist. School is in session, healthcare needs are more critical than ever, bills and taxes need to be paid, businesses need to market themselves — and despite the push toward digital transformation, these things still require some degree of print.
What has changed are customer expectations. Digital transformation has created new expectations for speed and efficiency, and those expectations transfer to printed materials as well. Combining the best of all worlds are production print options that use digital technologies for smart, efficient workflows that create state-of-the-art printed materials. In a hybrid world, it’s the perfect combination.