Environmental considerations are firmly back on the agenda, with 46% of European SMBs citing energy usage as a major concern around printing according to the recent IDC White Paper, SMB Buying Considerations for Smarter Business Printing, October 2012, sponsored by OKI Europe.
The report highlights the findings of IDC's latest SMB Hardcopy Survey, which revealed that energy consumption topped the list of environmental issues for smaller businesses. Other concerns which feature strongly include the demand for recycling programmes for hardware and consumables, the use of recycled paper and the need to reduce packaging.
"Even though cost considerations remain strong in a tough economic environment, there is no doubt that SMBs are pushing hard to print greener as they look to improve their corporate environmental performance as well as reducing costs," says Terry Laidlaw, managing director, OKI Europe. This pressure will increase further as the European Union Energy-using Products (EuP) Directive will require all print devices sold after this date to include an 'auto off' mode, designed to shut down the device when it has not been in use for a certain period of time.
"Lower energy usage also has positive financial implications for the business," Laidlaw adds. "OKI, like many manufacturers has been working hard to reduce the environmental impact of printing and IDC in-depth interviews among IT decision makers confirm that newer products typically use 30 per cent less energy and consume 20 per cent less toner than legacy devices. The result is that investing in new equipment can pay for itself longer term as it cuts the cost of printing."
Green IT policy
European SMBs already have 'green' features at the top of their list of 'must haves' when purchasing IT hardware, with 61% confirming that features such as duplex and reduced energy consumption form part of the corporate green IT policy. SMBs also cite cartridge recycling, employee behaviour and the reputation of brands purchased as important, confirmation that they are taking a serious and all embracing approach to improving their environmental performance.
Space constraints in many SMB offices can also impact on the purchasing decision. "In responding to this problem, well designed A3 devices, such as the models developed by OKI, have only a marginally larger footprint than their A4 counterparts, with the result that products offering broader A3 functionality can offer a realistic upgrade path, even in environments where space is at a premium," advises Laidlaw.
A 2012 IDC study of European businesses found that data protection ranked highest in a list of 10 IT-related initiatives on their agenda for the coming 12 months.
A large number of SMBs already have in place a number of different software options to help manage their print devices, including digital document capture and storage, device usage and reporting. Almost one quarter of businesses (23%) have also implemented document security software and Ids, according to IDC's 2011 SMB Study.
Advanced security software packages ensure stringent authentication and restriction of access functionality, as well as PIN protection so that sensitive documents can only be printed when the PIN is entered or the ID card swiped. Document encryption also ensures that documents sent across the network are kept secure until they are printed.
"The issue of print security has become even more important with the increase in remote working supported by wireless printing and follow me printing," says Laidlaw. "The growth in printer sales reflects the continuing importance of quality print delivery to maintaining business competitiveness.
"New products which benefit the environment through lower energy usage will also benefit the business through lower costs. At the same time, in order to make the most of any print investment, devices should be connected to the network, supported by usage and security software which safeguards the business from uncontrolled costs and loss of sensitive information."
The full white paper is available for download at: www.oki.co.uk/IDC-White-Paper