Documents to be printed are either in a raw format or print-ready file. The service provider's printer processor "tells" the spooler to produce the output according to the document data type.
Dealing with Raw Data and Print Files
Raw data printing is a direct printing method that sends a string of commands to the printer in its native language. Instead of sending the data to the Windows of Mac printer spoolers, the data goes straight to the device for faster and more reliable processing. Raw printing is a great alternative if the operating system spooler does not work. Raw printing is often used for text-based documents like receipts, bar codes and labels.
There are multiple raw data types and raw printing languages. Three of the most common languages are EPL (Eltron Programming Language), ZPL (Zebra Programming Language) and ESC/P (Epson Standard Code for Printers). Zebra printers support the first two, while ESC/P is mainly used for receipt printers. Before sending out documents, clients should check with the service provider whether their printer supports the raw data file type.
Raw data printing is ideal for outsourcing as it helps the client avoid investing in expensive technology and equipment. Many custom raw data files also need special software for support. A third party print and mail specialist is able to handle document preparation, composition, design, printing and mailing for custom raw data types.
Ready-to-print document file types such as PDF and Word are compatible with most printers and normally do not require the printer processor to be modified. Anyone with a Windows or Mac OS can generate print file documents and send them to the print and mail provider for formatting, printing and distribution. These types of documents are ideal for online print to mail services and even self-service online print to mail. The client simply signs in to the vendor's platform to enter their order (including quantity, paper type, finishing options and other specifications) and upload the print files for production.
Online Print to Mail Economics & Advantages
Mobility, the cloud and other emerging technologies are slowly transforming the printing landscape, and digital documents are becoming acceptable alternatives to traditional print documents. Printed materials are not disappearing anytime soon, however. Printing and mailing of paper-based internal documents and marketing collaterals remain a crucial component of many business processes.
IT research and advisory firm Gartner Group reported that offices allot about 1-3 percent of their annual budgets to printing. This means that a company with $1 million in annual revenues will spend from $10,000 to 30,000 on document output every year. Meanwhile, enterprise print costs in the telecoms and banking sectors average about 6.1 percent of revenues, with the legal and advertising sectors spending the most (13.7 percent and 14.79 percent of revenues, respectively).
Uncontrolled print and mail activities can easily lead to escalating costs "not only financial but also environmental" and expose the business to security risks. Improper document management costs companies millions of dollars every year, in addition to lost efficiency and productivity. For example, many large organizations are unaware of how many printers they currently have, how these printers are being used or if they are the right equipment for the job. Rationalization of the existing printer fleet and knowing what to keep and what to outsource, can allow energy-efficient printers to be used, leading to initial and ongoing cost savings.
For startups and small and medium-sized enterprises who are new to the business, investing in expensive print and mailroom equipment may be the last thing on the agenda. SME owners and marketing officers are pressed to look for ways to reduce costs and streamline document printing and distribution.
The market is at a point where IT infrastructure management and business processes are consolidated, and document output is one of the last ways to optimize infrastructure. This means that businesses are moving away from investing on assets and equipment and turning to service providers not only for cost reduction, but also for a strategic partnership that drives innovation and business value.
Advantages of Print and Mail Outsourcing
Print and mail outsourcing builds a document strategy that accurately monitors the amount of printing that is being done and the amount of outgoing and returned mail, leading to reduced environment impact, lower costs, improved productivity and improved competitive advantage.
Optimized enterprise print and mail processes. Print and mail specialists allow large organizations to optimize their print and mail processes by taking responsibility for non-core but necessary activities and allowing the client to focus on their core business. Optimized print and mail processes in turn minimizes risk and supports the organization's sustainability goals.
Access to the latest technology and best practices. Today, the best print and mail providers are leveraging customer analytics, cloud services and mobility to support business transformation. By working with a print and mail provider, companies gain access to these capabilities and allow them to drive competitive advantage.
Document security. It is in the best interest of service providers to provide secure print and mail solutions to their clients. An example is pull-printing, a technique that requires user authentication before print jobs are released. Providers also provide audit trails for compliance with data protection laws and regulations like Basel II.
Mobile printing. The number of service providers that are offering mobile print and mail services are increasing as workers continue to use smartphones and tablets in the office. Mobile printing and mailing services allow marketing officers and staff to manage, print and send documents on the go.
Cost savings of up to 30 percent. Many organizations underestimate their print and mail-related expenses and fail to monitor and analyze costs. A third party specialist can manage documents much more effectively, allowing clients to save as much as 30 percent on print and mail activities. Offshore print and mail service providers can further ramp up savings due to lower infrastructure and labor costs.
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