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Color This Business Strategy Green

5 Nov, 2012 By: Sand Sinclair, Editor imageSource

We hear it all the time. Go green, be responsible, get involved and change the planet, let alone how we conduct greener business practices. Today, even the best CFOs are emerging as key players in sustainability, and, surprisingly, employees are too: they are second only to customers as drivers of company sustainability initiatives. Such is “Corporate Responsibility.” But is this thinking just for the giant corporations and big box stores, or for modern day American businesses of all sizes; many stretched thin to survive?

These “green trends” suggest that in 2012, sustainability efforts have now become well-integrated into the corporate fabric of a growing number of large and (yes, thankfully) midsized companies. But, says the informative ‘Green Biz’ resource, “The effectiveness of such efforts may be limited by internal systems that don’t allow companies to effectively measure, track and optimize their sustainability impacts, or to understand and manage the risks of insufficient action. To do so will require new levels of engagement by the C-suite, and more sophisticated methods of sustainability reporting and assurance.”

What this means is, to do it successfully, i.e. doing business as a green company, you need to know about what can yield cost savings, tax benefits, operational efficiencies and more.

Easy does it, but do it.

Currently in the office technology markets, providers see some consumers seeking more conscientious programs and products to add or replace existing ones. This demand is growing yearly so professionals need to know how this affects their business and what to do about it. It isn’t all about “saving energy.” Becoming proactively green has its challenges.

Sometimes the cost is higher for products (the downside but talk “value” here) while the good side shows it is lower in “footprint.” Even if you don’t “get this” in importance, the consumer does and will pay for it knowing green takes more green. And like most advances over time, costs will reduce and profits will rise. As customers continue to demand products and services that take eco-friendly offerings seriously, they will invest in them. They will invest in you. Invest in some products to round out your portfolio to show you are the innovative company you say you are.

Organizations, manufacturers and suppliers of office equipment and supplies, technology and solutions such as those from Panasonic, Xerox, Ricoh, and dealerships such as FlexPrint, EO Johnson, Flo-Tech, Marco, Modern Office Methods, Impact Networking, Thermocopy, and a growing list of others, are taking sustainability and the environment seriously today. They live it, supply it, and make their customers happy to being doing business with them.

How it’s done is, these committed organizations take part in a planned green movement by making a commitment to their staff and customers on how to conserve energy, product usage and supplies, and convert workflow methods to increase efficiency and performance. Isn’t this something that works for all organizations, however large or small? Specialized or formulated green products with improved environmental performance are available more and more today. These products can be classified as Green Products, Superior Green Products, and even Super Green Products which represent revolutionary technologies to advance towards sustainability.  

EDM gets greener

It isn’t rocket science to know that paper comes from trees and that printers eat up bunches of paper around the globe daily. Sure, we know the value and ease of digital data and how it saves trees, among other aspects, but we’ll stay in a marriage of both print and electronic use for a while longer. However, an electronic document management solution vs. paper-based documents allows you and your clients to engage in the green movement by significantly reducing the amount of paper waste produced by your company. Let alone costs. EDM reduces paper waste output, while making digital information more easily accessible. It minimizes overall energy consumption, lessening the need for paper hardcopies, and it is optimally efficient, continuing the practice of sustainability, while giving your customers options.

MPS enablement

A leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry, InfoTrends, conducted a study that found the use of managed print services (MPS) in the United States “will actually reduce the consumption of paper in the United States by $2.6 billion in 2014.” Reduction of usage will lower production in the paper industry and drive up the cost of supplies to compensate for decreasing sales. This could mean astronomical budget allocations for office supplies and lost money for many businesses.

Managed print services can reduce supply budgets by assessing a customer’s document management solutions and identifying their printing needs, enabling them to use their budget in the areas needed most rather than in the wasting of office supplies. According to ASI Business Solutions, MPS typically reduces the amount of paper utilized as well as the need to purchase ink cartridges. By reducing waste, an organization creates a positive environmental impact. Just having printers capable of utilizing both sides of the paper (duplex printing) could improve your company’s carbon footprint. MPS providers typically handle monitoring and managing of customers’ print devices, which generally includes:

• Sourcing related hardware and software

• Conducting regular print audits

• Providing you with reports on print resource utilization

• Updating print drivers

• Fixing print devices

It is a fact that many organizations have no idea on how much they utilize print devices or what they utilize them for, which was clearly indicated by ASI. The data they think important to track is paper and ink purchases. However, we know with MPS, a department’s print output can be tracked and managed effectively, and that this is key to an efficient print program.

Take a green position

I’ve often said that when prospecting for new customers today, it is necessary to ask lots of questions to see if the organization has or is interested in promoting a green sustainability program. Or are interested in equipment and supplies that address this initiative. Dealers and business providers should ask their customers: Do you currently have any green initiatives?” Do you want to build or focus on an environmental program? Do you know how much paper you’re currently using? Are you interested in reducing your paper usage? Are you interested in reducing your toner and energy consumption?

Regardless of greening their business for them, you’ll end up assessing how you can improve them in general. Asking questions is always a lead in to perform a workflow analysis in order to spot energy and environmental wastefulness as well as cost inefficiencies, among other issues.

A comprehensive analysis tool will gather valuable workflow information to help answer questions such as: Who is printing the most? Where are they printing to? What applications are they being printed from? What size and types of jobs are they printing? Ultimately, you’ll get to the bottom of usage, wastefulness, over-consumption, the variable inefficiencies that drive up costs and lower profits, and then what you can do about it to change the status quo for the better. Lots of questions leads to problem solving, which leads to a successful outcome.

Verticals go green

Leave it to the vertical markets of healthcare, government, education, manufacturing, and others to lead with green initiatives. With all the talk of green in almost every sector imaginable, more and more facilities, offices, and businesses in general are influenced to become “greener. Helping them are the “Feds” who have put into place many compliance and regulatory standards, along with Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, that helps save money and protects the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Your customers will inquire about this so be prepared to have credible answers. This is becoming more important to them today and TV and advertising is pounding the message home. Hint: get informed on products and uses.

The bottom line on any green or good initiative is to evaluate your customers’ needs carefully. You must fine tune your offerings to provide what’s needed in your immediate arena – without over compensating. Green friendly office equipment, supplies, solutions and services will help save time, cost and energy to improve many businesses today including yours. A green agenda? Yes, your survival may depend upon it.

About the Author: Sand Sinclair, Editor

Sand Sinclair, Editor

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