Green means go!

Green means go!
Green means go!

Canon’s small business expert, Mark Robinson, today shares advice on how SMBs can stop wasting money by running an energy-efficient office.

Environmentally efficient IT was the talk of the technology industry in the mid-to-late noughties. Experts and suppliers were keen to extol the ecological virtues of their products and the long-term importance of saving the planet.

Then the downturn came and something changed. Executives were still keen to pursue environmental principles, but the short-term reality of economic survival took centre-stage. Many businesses began to deprioritise environmental initiatives, rather than retain these projects as a key organisational objective.

Nonetheless, even during the most austere moments, a desire to act in a sustainable manner never left the executive agenda completely. The environmental focus of the late noughties awakened businesses and their customers to the importance of environmentalism – and it is now rising back to the top of the priority list.

An upturn in economic conditions, a focus on growth and a series of new technological capabilities mean environmentally efficient IT is very much back on the agenda. Canon research suggests as many as 54% of small business owners agree that their company cares about being environmentally friendly.

In some countries, environmentalism is already at the core of business objectives. Almost three quarters (73%) of Italian SMB and Small office/Home office (SoHo) owners believe that being environmentally conscious is crucial. So what can small businesses do to ensure that this is at the centre of their business plans?

Progress in printing efficiency

The term ‘environmentally efficient’ means a variety of different things to different businesses. For example, survey respondents offered the following responses for what environmental efficiency means to them – paper saving (79%), recycling of general waste (68%), recycling of print consumables (61%), reduced toner / ink consumption (58%) and double sided printing (56%).

More than a third (36%) of small business owners search for more environmentally friendly printing solutions. As well as this direct environmental impact, what many small business owners aren’t aware of is that they can use new print and document management technologies to cut waste, as well as boost efficiency and improve profitability.

Modern multi-functional devices include high capacity consumables, which allow users to print thousands of pages before cartridges need to be replaced. Automatic double-sided printing, meanwhile, allows users to reduce the amount of paper used.

Such printers also include management options that provide greater visibility over printing habits, helping small businesses to identify usage patterns and control print costs. In addition, the best printer specialists will have a long heritage in toner recycling, ensuring none of the cartridge ends up in landfill.

Towards a more productive future

But while many small business owners are using efficient devices to boost their environmental credentials, there should be little room for complacency.

Canon research reveals just over a fifth of SMB owners disagree, with the suggestion that their company is always looking for more environmentally friendly printing solutions. For these owners, other elements – some of which are related to technology, such as information management, the cloud and mobility – register higher on the priority list.

But there is no reason why environmentalism should be avoided in favour of other factors. An environmentally friendly firm is a more efficient business. Such credentials will also prove popular with customers, many of whom will be looking for businesses that can demonstrate that they care about being environmentally friendly and reducing their overall carbon footprint.

More to the point, small business owners do not have to put one area of technology before another. The digital transformation in printing is related to the use of information, the cloud and mobility. Multi-functional devices connect to the cloud and allow mobile users to print, scan and use information from any location.

Together, the associated developments in technology are helping to make small businesses more efficient and more productive. For SMBs and SoHos, such advances mean that acting in an environmentally friendly way has moved from a ‘nice to have’ extra to the best way to do business.

For more SMB advice throughout Small Business Advice Week, follow @CanonBusinessUK