What Does Your Print Data Tell You?

Bill Sullivan

Recently, one of our higher education customers expressed his amazement that in less than 24 hours after installing the Beacon Uniprint Scout, he was able to analyze print data on over 10,000 users. The deployment speed and the depth of the data insights impressed him, but I explained that what’s even more compelling is the stories you can tell from the data, and how those insights can translate to significant cost savings and improved end-user convenience.

We built the Beacon cloud print management platform to make it easy for organizations to identify opportunities to save money and improve efficiency. To achieve these goals they first need to understand the state of their device fleet and get clarity on the people and groups who print. As we were building the platform, we also knew that what really matters is how this clarity can inform decisions and help our customers implement a successful print strategy that yields continual benefits.

To better understand all of this we engaged several of our early adopter customers in higher education. With permission to view their Beacon data, we identified outliers and trends specific to their environments. The Pharos team produced reports for these customers and we asked for their feedback and ideas to help us make the application serve their needs even better.

Beacon provides summary dashboards, detailed data grids, and data exploration tools that bring key metrics and outliers to the surface. We identified several interesting trends across these higher education accounts. Two observations that stood out to us involved fleet composition and device utilization:

Fleet composition: We learned that our higher education customers typically have a device fleet that includes 10 or more different manufactures and more than 200 different models. These numbers alone demonstrate the inherent complexity in managing such a fleet. Normally, such a complex fleet composition leads to increased supply chain and inventory costs, increased administrative and service costs, increased likelihood of toner outages, and increased IT support requirements.

Device utilization: This is another important metric that’s easy to access in Beacon. Looking at device utilization rates across these early adopter customers, we saw that on average, 28% of print devices had produced 200 pages or less over a 30-day period. Low device utilization rates typically correlate to a higher total cost of ownership (TCO) as well as increased cost per page (CPP). If you have an expensive device that isn’t being used often, is the device really necessary? Can it be allocated elsewhere? Every printing device draws energy, has an IP address, requires toner and paper, and involves hidden costs, including resource time for maintenance and supplies. Low device utilization rates can also reveal excess capital tied up in the fleet, unnecessary administrative overhead to handle invoices, and more print server configuration and management costs than is necessary. Seeing this data makes it easy for customers to identify opportunities to reallocate devices and eliminate others to increase utilization rates and reduce TCO.

Another interesting observation from the Beacon data is that most customers are over-invested in device features. The data revealed that color printing represented a small percentage of overall printing (between 8-15%). This is good for keeping CPP low, but on average, 50% of the device fleet were color-capable devices. This typically reveals that purchasing decisions were not optimally tied to actual user needs. Over time, this unnecessary capacity translates to unnecessary costs.

We also found that printing with large paper sizes represented a tiny percentage of overall printing activity—less than 1% on average—but the majority of the fleets had large paper capability. Again, unnecessary features means unnecessary costs. To achieve a truly optimized print environment you must first understand it. For this you need clear, comprehensive and objective data on all devices and users. Only then can you design a fleet arrangement that matches the actual needs of your users and begin to implement a successful print strategy.

So, what does your print data tell you?


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