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Guest Blogger - Mark Chillingworth European Technology Leadership Writer, Editor & Founder of the Horizon CIO Network.

Just because document output is created or physical does not mean it can’t benefit from cloud computing. Transformative organisations can use cloud output management to provide their workforce and partners with the freedom of the cloud while improving business processes and security.

Organisations cannot claim to be delivering a full digital transformation unless they utilise cloud-based output management. Cloud output management completes the picture, ensuring document benefit from the same business process improvements as other aspects of the IT environment. Technology publishing and research firm Foundry finds that 93% of business technology leaders are planning a “digital-first approach” to business operations in order to reduce costs, increase resilience and productivity. Jon Weg, UK based retail CTO says: “My role has been to transform this business as our future becomes more digital to meet the needs of our customers, who themselves are more digitally savvy and connected. This ensures their experience is as frictionless as possible.” Mike Gibbons, CIO of Aggregate Industries agrees: “Younger and digital savvy managing directors are demanding digital transformation right now and really accelerating the investments.”

Friction is to be eliminated and failing to connect output management to an organization’s cloud operating model and strategy adds friction. Cloud output management provides a connection between digital channels and the need to produce output. With cloud output management, CIOs and CTOs can bridge the gap between key applications — such as customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) — to output devices and a centralised management platform.

Why Digital Transformation?

Business technology leaders are pursuing digital transformation to create organisations that have effective integration between applications/business lines and the processes for which they are responsible. If output management is not included in that process, then the organisation has not achieved its ambition of greater integration.

Some may argue that output management is not part of digital transformation, yet research firm Quocirca finds that 64% of businesses believe “printing will remain critical or very important in the next 12 months.” In addition, many digital transformation programmes are aimed at supporting the legions of remote workers that arose during the pandemic. Many businesses report that addressing output management has become more difficult in today’s hybrid working environment.

“In the enterprise, there have and always will be a requirement to print,” says Guy Tucker, solutions architect at LRS. He adds that logistics and healthcare have processes that cannot be digitised to deliver an effective return on investment for customers, employees, and partners. The connectivity that cloud computing has created within organisations can be replicated within output management. Scanning and printing can be internet enabled, so employees and partners require neither a virtual private network (VPN) nor direct access to the corporate network. Cloud-based registration can send document output directly to a device with authentication. For organisations that rely on third party providers, this connects an ERP, for example, to the devices and processes of suppliers.

This act of streamlining benefits both the supplier and the commissioning organisation, thus ultimately benefitting the customer. Productivity and efficiency improves, as central output management ensures document systems are secure and up to date. An audit trail adds additional security for CIOs, who can abstract a layer of infrastructure from their estates with a cloud-based system

Output Management Growth

Sales of output management software reached $9.9 billion in 2022. Despite the term “paperless office” being bandied about for over a decade, the management of application output remains vital to business success. The Research and study of the output management software market finds that demand for these applications will continue to rise and is expected to be worth $11.4 billion by 2028. This means the market is expected to grow by 2.2% annually between 2023 and 2028. This demand is not being driven by an increase in printing — though the demise of printing is vastly overstated — but by a rising need for output management.

Just as cloud computing has brought organisations, suppliers, and customers together, it has also created a more complex business landscape. As organisations trade in more markets, work with more partners, produce more data, and comply with more regulatory demands, so there is a need for more document output. Some of those documents are printed, but all of these documents have to be managed. Therefore, demand for output management software is, as this report finds, increasing.

This output is also used by more employees. “With a paper chart, only one person can look at that chart at a time, for example… now we get a team approach to care, and that is better quality care and safer for the patient and the professional,” healthcare CIO Shauna McMahon says of how output drives collaboration. Healthcare is cited as being one vertical market that is eagerly adopting output management software. The report says: “Healthcare facilities employ output management solutions to provide clinicians with convenient access to vast amounts of data and ensure the seamless delivery of system-generated documents to patients. Other factors, including the outsourcing of these solutions and a shift in consumer preference toward paperless operations, are expected to further propel market growth.”

Complex Landscape

Hybrid working has increased the number of devices that corporate data may be exposed to, including output devices outside of the management of the CIO. The Quocirca research found that 67% of business technology leaders are concerned about the security risks of home printing. In the last 12 months, 68% of organisations have experienced a data loss as a result of poor security around printing. A full 21% of business technology leaders believe cloud output management is more secure, and they will adopt this technology to protect their organisations.

Business transformation using cloud computing is widely understood to give organisations greater flexibility in both cost structures and the ability to meet market demands. Cloud output management ensures that the organisation’s adaptability flows across every facet of the business.

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