As part of a continuing effort to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) improve the flow of work, Xerox collaborated with independent market research firm Coleman Parkes to survey more than 1,000 companies in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany about their challenges and opportunities.

Top Challenges Facing SMBs

The respondents represented a thorough cross section of team members, from operations managers, IT managers and owners to CTOs, painting a clear picture of today’s SMB needs. What are those needs? The research confirmed that numerous opportunities exist for SMBs across the US and Europe to significantly improve their productivity and save both time and money through the digitization of paper-intensive processes and streamlining their document workflows.

Only 1% of SMBs reported that paper intensive processes aren’t integral to their business, leaving an overwhelming majority still depending on paper to get the job done. Unsurprisingly, a whopping 46% of respondents reported that they waste time daily because of these processes, with billing/invoicing, business/financial reporting and HR forms named as the most common. Even less surprising was the discovery that more than 80% of the businesses polled want to cut paper out of these processes. Digitization will not only help cuts costs, but also simplify the processes themselves, saving time and improving productivity.

The Value of Digital Processes in Small Office Environments

As SMB owners overwhelmingly begin to recognize the value in digitization, they are also collectively asking, what is the next step? Turning to experts for recommendations is a good place to start. Only 1 in 5 respondents were aware of existing paper-free solutions in the market, making channel partners a valuable resource in an industry that’s about to undergo a profound shift. As SMBs embark on their digitization journey, it’s important to understand how technology – such as apps on printers and managed print services – can support their vision and strategy to achieve successful digital transformation.

Apps on multifunction printers enabled with ConnectKey® Technology extend the capabilities of the machine with time and money saving solutions that also help to boost productivity, like scan to cloud email and the Xerox® Scanning App for Docushare®. While the word “app” implies simplicity – and indeed, they are simple to use – the benefits are many and far-reaching.

MPS: the Key to Boosting Productivity for SMBs

When it comes to digitization, Managed Print Services is the key. 42% of survey respondents have MPS in place, while another 40% plan to adopt MPS within 12 months. More than print, the right MPS starts with device optimization to save costs and then leverages capabilities, innovation and automation for better document security, productivity and sustainability.

Better Workflows: Why Paper is Just the Beginning

Reducing small business printing costs is always a top concern, but it’s far from the only one. The ascent of the digital world means work is no longer confined to the office, but happens anywhere and everywhere, at all hours of the day, making mobile print no longer a luxury but a necessity. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the same can be said for improving document workflows. With SMBs growing 49% since 1982 and accounting for 54% of all US sales 1, productivity is essential to success.

For businesses looking to improve their productivity and cut costs, digitization is the first step, and mobile print and better document workflows are necessary complements. 23% of survey respondents envision their mobile devices being integrated with their workflow processes by 2018.

Xerox Mobile Print helps bridge any mobile device to any brand of printer so you can boost your productivity, in the office or in the field. Its high level of security also means you can rest easily on those rare occasions when you’re not working at all.

Read more about the results of survey and what it tells us about the direction of the SMB marketplace.

1. Source: The U.S. Small Business Administration

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