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Color Impressions In Business Communications - Making the Transition To Color Is Fast Becoming A Necessity

18 Jan, 2001 By: Mark Mathews imageSource

Color Impressions In Business Communications - Making the Transition To Color Is Fast Becoming A Necessity

The recent introduction of low-cost digital color copiers in the office equipment marketplace marks the beginning of a whole new era in business communications. After several years of intense research and development, Toshiba is introducing new cost-effective, high quality, digital, color copier/printers for the office and they are fast becoming part of business environments.

Toshiba is predicting that where black-and-white impressions were the norm, color will be proliferating in routine business applications.

There are good reasons now for businesses to have a color copier/printers on site. First, the average cost per color copy has dropped steeply. Second, a color copier-printer can do double duty as black-and-white copier in a digitally networked office. Third, color quality and ease of use have improved dramatically, and as color documents become the norm, it is becoming widely acknowledged that color adds value to business communications.

The Transition

Businesses need to make the transition to color or they will be hampered in their ability to communicate effectively in the new economy. The transition to color in business documents is comparable to the rapid transition from black-and-white to color television in homes in the 1960s. When first introduced, color televisions were scarce. They were considered a luxury that only the affluent could afford. Suddenly, color televisions became the norm in nearly every household. Technological advances took color television from the extravagant to the ordinary in less than ten years.

Low-cost manufacturing techniques, solid-state technology, marketing and distribution all played vital roles in popularizing color television. Now, black and white television sets are an oddity. The same pattern will hold true for copiers and printers. Color copiers have been around for a few years but market penetration has been slow because of high cost. Now, technological advances have drastically reduced the prices of color copiers and printers while dramatically improving their performance.

Coupled with digital technology, color is no longer a luxury; it is not just for niche markets. More and more offices are adopting color copiers for everyday tasks. Adding network-connectivity brings functionality of color to the entire corporate network.

Billions of Impressions

CAP Ventures, one of the leading office products research firms, estimates that two billion impressions were made by copiers and printer-copiers in 1998. By 2001, that amount is expected to escalate to 10 billion impressions.

The same factors driving the growth in impressions will usher in the color era. Businesses are taking advantage of computers, color monitors and projectors as powerful and sophisticated tools. Initially, office desktop computers were primarily used for word processing. During the nineties, however, as costs plummeted and capabilities increased by several orders of magnitude, new business applications such as spreadsheets, desktop publishing, graphics and color presentations were widely adopted in the business world. These new applications are driving the demand for color output.

Central processing unit (CPU) capabilities, hard-drive storage and random access memory now match or exceed the technical requirements for color processing and the storage of color images. Advances in software, particularly office suites, have created new incentives to use color and, consequently, new incentives to print in color. Also, affordable scanners allow legacy color documents to be saved in digital format for copying in color.

The Internet is also an important factor driving the demand for low cost color copying and printing. The Internet without question is a colorful medium. E-commerce and e-business are taking on a colorful form. Information garnered from the Web or shared via files exchanged over the Internet typically is formatted in color. Cost-effective color printing of these graphical documents is becoming a vital necessity for many business professionals.

Candidates For Color

Several types of business environments have already adopted color. Advertising, publishing, sales and marketing, finance, training, central reproduction departments and print-for-pay are just a few departments or vertical markets with requirements for color output on demand. These businesses extensively use layouts, artwork, sales literature, business presentations, instruction manuals and other collateral materials that are more effective in color than black and white.

Certain financial reports, spreadsheets and text-based documents now are specifically created in color. Color improves recognition. It grabs the attention and lengthens the attention span of the reader. It also increases the amount of information that can be retained and recalled. Color adds high touch to high tech communications.

Low-cost color copiers are in demand in many departments. Engineering departments use color for schematics and drawings, three-dimensional renderings, project-schedules, assembly instructions, presentations and proposals. Sales and marketing departments realize the benefits of color in short-run flyers and brochures and direct mail letters as well as catalogs and newsletters.

Color Economics and the Bottom Line
Color is often thought of in terms of aesthetics, but the economical advantages of color are real and measurable. As the cost of a color print drops from dollars to dimes to pennies, color will contribute more and more to bottom-line profits.

However, the economic analysis of color goes beyond per page costs. The Gartner Group showed that color documents are proven winners with the following studies:

· A collection agency showed a 17 percent increase in the collection of overdue payments through the use of colored highlighting on statements.

· Rodale Press found that the use of color on its billing forms increased first-notice payments by over 50 percent.

· Pacific Bell determined that responses increased by nearly 44 percent when businesses were highlighted with a different color in the Yellow Pages.

· Auburn University found that students reading documents with color highlighted texts improved test scores by over 25 percent.

These studies, and many similar studies, support the use of color in a variety of documents. The Gartner Group estimates that nearly seventy-five percent of all enterprises will use color in their external documents by 2001. Based on industry studies, Toshiba projects that large corporations and small to midsize businesses will account for more than seventy percent of new placements of color copiers and color copier-printers.


“Color will be the norm in very few years,” said Mark Mathews, Vice President of Marketing for Toshiba America Business Solutions, Electronic Imaging Division. However, he cautions that there are many factors to consider in fitting the color product to specific business applications. For example, consumables and replacement parts must be factored into the overall costs of color copying and printing. Mathews noted that, “It is important to have a strong service and maintenance program and trust in the people you buy from. Service should never be overlooked or dismissed.

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