Multi-function magic

Printers have become mult-functional devices so choosing the right one makes a huge difference.

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By  Administrator Published  January 31, 2008

While a paperless office might not be a reality yet, the ability to efficiently manage the cost and quality of paper printed is at your finger tips. Seldom given a second thought efficient printers can be acompetitive cost advantage.

As consumer demands increase, the mundane printer is morphing beyond its core functions, offering customers more value for money. Not surprsingly, vendors are going all out to impress small and medium sized business with a myriad of models.

SMBs need to focus on their core business, not on IT. So we provide the best quality of products along with the tools to enable them to focus on their business.

The last decade has seen the mantra of smaller, cost effective and easily accessible technology being touted across the globe. Printers have become smaller and incorporate telephones, faxes, scanners and coffee makers.

Actually, scratch the coffee maker bit, that will probably be developed in the next decade. However, to an SME the ability to buy a one-stop solution for business needs is an attractive option.

Multifunctional printers

These Multifunction printers are marketed as MFP (Multi Function Printer/Product/Peripheral), multifunctional all-in-one (AiO), mopier (Multiple Optical coPIER), or Multifunction Device (MFD). In essence, these office machines incorporate the functionality of multiple devices in one. Also an ideal space saver in a home-based office or a small business setting.

An MFP also provides centralised document management/distribution/production in a large-office setting. A typical MFP may act as a combination of some or all of the following devices: printer, scanner, photocopier and fax.

The only caveat is that with improved technology comes the need for improved IT knowledge on the part of managers to effectively acquire and utilise the new technology.

Simply put, to ensure that the newly purchased peripheral devices actually delivers on its implied promise to revowlutionise an SME's productivity, it still requires a good understanding of the real business implications of such products.

Commenting on the thought process behind the SME and SMB focussed products that HP offers in the UAE, Asad Syed SMB Business Manager, Imaging and Printing Group, HP Middle East stated, "SMB's need to focus on their core business not on IT, so we provide the best quality of products along with tools to enable them to focus on their business.

As alluded to earlier companies such as HP, Lexmark, Canon, Samsung, Brother, Epson and Xerox have assessed the potential market and have developed solutions that specifically address the concerns and needs of entrepreneurs and SME's. All these well-known IT companies are now offering Home or SoHo (Small Office Home Office) MFP's.

The usual inkjet based units allow colour printing and copying but most SoHo units use a laser print engine for high-quality, low cost-per-page output at large volume.

Not surprisingly, vendors are having a field day with the huge demand. According to research firm IDC, the Gulf multifunction products (MFP) market is projected to touch US$508 million in 2007, shipping about 1.02 million units in total. Globally, the segment is expected to generate revenues of US$62.6 billion by 2010.

Similarly, Gartner Dataquest predicts that the MFP trend has rapidly gained momentum since the second half of 2006, with sales in this segment driven by the serial inkjet MFP, which accounts for 41 per cent of the total printer market.

The analyst firm estimates the printer market in EMEA will reach almost 54 million units in 2007, with copiers and MFPs slicing out more than half or 53 per cent of the market pie.

At Canon, SME focused products are a large business segment, the i-SENSYS brand laser printers are designed to meet specific and demanding requirements of SME's.

Currently the complete Canon laser category includes 27 products which ensure that SME's will surely find a fast, efficient, quiet and reliable printer to meet their needs.

Ideal for small workgroups, MFP's need to be sturdy and capable of volumes of up to 3000 pages per month at approximately 25 pages per minute. While larger workgroups can choose MFP's which can send e-mails and handle higher volumes of up to 20,000 pages a month at approximately 40 pages per minute.

The really high end models can automatically staple, sort and collate the printed sheets.

Industry trends

• 91% of SMBs in KSA & UAE use color printing

• 38% believe they lost business opportunities due to lack of colour printing

• 51% concerned about costs of using colour printing

• 51% restricted color to certain departments: managers 83%, marketing 73%, secretaries 49%, finance 40%.

• 2/3 of SMBs believe they should make more use of colour

• 50 to 60 per cent of the single function printers in businesses replaced by the MFP

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