That the paperless office theory was given real credence just a decade or so ago is scarcely conceivable in today’s multi-channel world. Of course, what the commentators of the time failed to understand was precisely how the various communication channels might work together, and how paper and mail might operate in tandem with these new electronic upstarts.
The notion of Hybrid Mail almost serves as a tailor-made riposte to such early theorists. In its most fundamental sense Hybrid Mail is simply the printing and fulfilment of documents that have been sent digitally to a remote site or sites. In practice, definitions of the solution vary slightly from supplier to supplier but all rely on this marriage of electronic and physical communications.
In the current economic climate it is little wonder that the concept of Hybrid Mail has again captured the attention of businesses and analysts alike. Organisations from every sector are reassessing current IT and communications strategies in a bid to unearth potential cost-savings and efficiency gains. At first glance, the area of mail and messaging may not seem like an obvious place to start the search. But, as a new report from Pitney Bowes reveals, the hidden cost of print and mail inefficiency makes for quite staggering reading.
The report, Counting the Cost of ‘Document Wastage’ in Europe, pulls together industry and corporate data from across Western Europe, including teleresearch from European Top 1000 companies and figures from EU and governmental organisations. The report finds that businesses in major European markets are costing themselves an estimated £11.6 billion each year by failing to adequately manage rising workplace printing costs. In the UK this equates to an estimated ‘wastage’ of £2bn per year.
Hybrid Mail tackles this inefficiency head-on by effectively centralising all printed output and enabling businesses to accurately track and monitor spend. Typically, colour printing run through a centralised facility can be done at a tenth of the cost of the output from a desktop device. By utilising print management software, implementing controls, monitoring output and reorganising document production equipment to run this activity though a centralised facility, companies could cut overall costs in this area by 10% to 30%.
Evolution from a software perspective means that businesses now have visibility of local level print and mail activity that would previously have been unquantifiable.
This ‘hidden’ document output often costs businesses a disproportionately high amount. Consider, for example, a bank with numerous branches – each branch producing its own printed output, each employee given access to desktop printers and office copiers. Routing this output to a centralised production centre immediately gives the bank control over document output expenditure and means that like-for-like documents from a variety of locations can be printed and grouped together to benefit from available bulk-mail postal discounts.
For any large business – particularly those with a branch network or numerous satellite offices – Hybrid Mail can deliver obvious efficiency advantages. Not only that. Effectively, a Hybrid Mail solution gives all staff access to the associated benefits of a high-volume production facility. The best Hybrid Mail suppliers will run document production facilities equipped with the very latest in mail and messaging technology, staffed by experts with the knowledge to ensure that every document is produced to a truly professional standard.
At a time when businesses are looking to slash costs and drive efficiency Hybrid Mail is a hot-topic. Whilst cost-efficiencies may be one important benefit, savvy decision makers will also recognise the long-term advantages of a solution that ensures brand consistency and communications excellence in a crowded and competitive marketplace.