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To print or not to print is not a question. Both are real requirements and will remain so in the foreseeable future. Although leading industry analysts forecast the slow-but-steady decline of printed pages, the mystical “Paperless Office” is not anywhere on the horizon. However, one thing is very clear: content (output) from applications continues to grow. Just ask anyone in the storage business.

The shift from hardcopy to softcopy documents is driven more by how business processes, employees, and customers consume and manage digital content. Paper is a medium that humans have used for hundreds of years and often prefer, but it has its drawbacks. With the growth in low-cost computing devices with high-quality displays, more people prefer to view documents and other digital content in electronic format. Will this trend continue? No doubt, but printed documents are not going away anytime soon for a variety of reasons.

My colleague, Brent Black, recently wrote a blog titled, “You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too,” in which he talked about the advantages of deploying a hybrid print architecture across your enterprise. I want to talk about another “hybrid” solution that you can realize using this same output management system. You can deliver application output (e.g., a business document) to a broad range of print devices, or you can choose to deliver it to electronic destinations in softcopy format. Or, you can do both – print a document and store an electronic version for future use.

This same output management system can dynamically transform the document from the original format to the required format for a given destination. It can also intelligently bundle documents from different application sources and in different data formats and deliver them as a single document. In a nutshell, the LRS solution acts as middleware and separates upstream applications from the complexities of downstream document distribution.

Output Management vs. Print Management

You don’t need to change your applications to support a new destination or a different data format. The output management system decouples many functions from the application and moves them into a device and platform-independent service layer, which simplifies and expedites the delivery of new services without requiring application changes. This lets applications focus on content creation and enables you to change the appropriate delivery format and destination at any time. This is a key difference between output management and print management software (sometimes referred to as “printer management software”), one that many people do not fully understand. Think of a print management system as a proper “subset” of output management.

Basically, an output management system is focused on capturing and delivery digital content. It is only a question of “what format does it need to be delivered in” and “where does it need to go.” Print is just one option, albeit an important one in today’s business environment. 

With the LRS solution, you have a lot of flexibility at your fingertips. So when the boss comes in and says, “Hey, we need to stop printing that invoice and deliver it via email as a PDF file attachment,” you can reply “No problem, boss! When do you need it?”

At LRS, we are not just focused on printing. We understand that business requirements are constantly changing, driven by new technology and evolving market trends. We also know that businesses are under constant pressure to reduce cost, improve productivity and drive real innovation. We get it, and that’s why we developed products that support advanced document delivery capabilities.

If you live long enough, you might actually witness the printing of the last hardcopy document (but don’t hold your breath). However, you need not be concerned. It’s a comforting thought to know that you can address your current and future document distribution requirements with the LRS solution you have today. If printed/paper documents ever go away, you will have successfully managed the migration of hardcopy to softcopy long before that theoretical event occurs.

Who cares whether documents are delivered in paper or electronic format? We don’t, and that’s an important difference to consider when you make your buy decision. Give us a call to learn more about how LRS can position your business for the digital age.

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