Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's All The Hype With Solid Ink?

What is the deal with SOLID INK?
The first solid ink printer was created by Tektronix in 1991 and printed at 1 page per minute.  The printers were a big hit in the graphic community because of the bright and high graphic output.  In 2000, Xerox bought this technology and continued to develop it with the primary research and development occurring in at the Wilsonville, Oregon location.  In 2009, Xerox released the first multifunctional product utilizing the Solid Ink Technology named the ColorQube 9200 series. There were some very unique and beneficial elements to this new product that made it a huge success to Xerox and its subsidiaries.

1.) Environmental Benefits: Because these devices use solid ink instead of the normal toner that laser devices use, all the parts that go into a toner device don't exist. Therefore, the waste from toner, waste toner, drums, fuser units and the packaging associated with these items is reduced by 90%.  Not only this, but the space necessary to store these items, the trucks used to ship these items all gets reduced! 

2.) Cost Benefits: These devices also utilize a 3-tier pricing strategy. What is that? Normal laser devices have two meters, a color meter and a black & white meter.  There is no gray area.  On the ColorQube systems with solid ink, there is a 3-tier system that doesn't look at whether the system is color or black & white but actually how much color is being used. For documents that have a color logo in the corner and usually count as full color on laser devices, now can fall into the 1st tier with the rest of your black & white documents.  With a percentage of fill between 3% and 7% in color, ColorQube systems will count that page in the 2nd tier and finally the remaining fill falls in the full color click rate. Since the introduction of the ColorQube series, we have seen a huge amount of documents fall into the 2nd tier, roughly 70%, which dramatically reduces the overall expense of printing color.

3.) Technological Benefits: Xerox introduced these devices with the same multifunctional capabilities as a normal laser device.  You are able to scan to various platforms, print both PS and PCL from Windows or Mac as well as fax and copy.  They also included the important security features that come standard on Xerox devices including data encryption, automatic disk overwrite and an optional removal hard drive.  The system was built for the heavy flow of an office workflow and over the last few years has stood the test of time.  Xerox recently introduced the ColorQube 8700 & 8900 to the product lineup that included this very same technology and advantages but fits a smaller environment both in footprint and volume.

For more information on the ColorQube series and Solid Ink technology, let us know, The Northwest Group - CTX, QBSI, Pinnell!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The World of Color

The world of color can be a very tricky one to maneuver, especially if you are new to it.  If you have been spending a lot of money on outsourcing all of your marketing jobs and feel like you have reached the point where some of those less intense jobs could be done in-house, here are some things to think about.

1.) How do you design for digital printing? Make sure your graphic designer or marketing coordinator knows how to design for digital printing. This involves knowing your brand colors, understanding crop marks and bleeds and how to optimize your printing device to get more bang for your buck.

2.) What are your brand's colors and how do you keep them consistent? Understand the difference between RGB, CMYK, and Pantone Colors. Getting your monitor to look like your output device can be a tricky and costly for that matter but at least understanding why it doesn't can be very beneficial when designing as well.

3.) What is text, bond, cover, tag, and index? Paper! The world of paper can be quite confusing at first but once you figure out your top paper types for your jobs and where to get them, you will be in full swing.

4.) How will you print your jobs? Finding the right machine that will not only fit in your environment now but also grow with you as you get the hang of things and start bringing more jobs in-house is imperative.  Most digital presses are around for 3 to 5 years so make sure the one you get is the one that will fit with your company in 3 to 5 years.

5.) What is Finishing and Color Management? Finishing is basically printing lingo for finishing your document i.e. saddle-stitching, booklet fold, tri-fold etc.  Choosing whether it is more cost-effective to do this inline, offline or outsourcing is important to think about. It may be cost-effective to do offline but if it requires 4 hours of your employees time to do it, it may be better to outsource.  What about Color Management? Is the digital press that you bring in going to have some method of managing color, calibrating or creating profiles, or do you think that a normal business color machines is sufficient for your needs?

All of these items are important to think about when contemplating bringing jobs in-house but with the Northwest Group(QBSI, CTX, Pinnell) on your side we can help you maneuver through this so that you come out on the other side with all the information you need. Let us know!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Document Management for Small Business

Has it ever occurred to you that small business is the perfect client to adopt a certified Document Management System? Who needs more resources for growth and less capital than a small startup or single or double agent business?
Consider Jane Smith Insurance. (Not her real name.) Jane had worked in the health insurance industry for over 20 years in administration for a big corporate provider. She noticed there was a real need for small business health plan counseling that often went unnoticed by the larger companies. With her husband close to retirement, Jane began her own agency focusing on those companies. With two computers in their home office, a few file cabinets and a small scanning copier Jane began Jane Smith Insurance. With Jane’s industry background and her husband’s great personality and talent for answering customer inquiries, their insurance practice began to grow.

Soon customer service began to slip. Keeping track of documents and providing immediate answers to inquiries presented a problem…It was time to open an office and hire assistants to keep track of the activity associated to their growing practice…or was it?

With a small business implementation of DocuWare and a back file conversion of existing files Jane and her husband were able to grow their client portfolio to over 400 businesses. They decided to hold the line at 400, as that was the sweet spot where they could continue to provide excellent customer service and manage their client base without adding employees. Frankly they liked the control they had of their business and quality! Their investment in scanning, software and copiers was less than $5000.00. That system today can be leased with a buyout at term end for less than $125.00 per month!

Today Jane and her husband are really retiring. Their practice is worth double the amount of a similar practice because every bit of intellectual, marketing, payment, enrollment and claim information is safely contained within their DocuWare system. They are building a luxury condo in South America, and passing the torch to another entrepreneur. 

Still think Document Management isn’t for small business?

Let us at the Northwest Group (CTX, QBSI, Pinnell) assist you with workflow optimization.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Opportunity for SMBs - TransPromo

The question is one that many SMBs (small to medium sized businesses) are asking themselves – how do I use advertising in the current climate?  The most tried and true method for SMBs to get people walking into their front doors is by sending out “coupons” in colorful direct mail campaigns.  Check your kitchen drawer full of pizza coupons to prove that.  

But the average household now sifts through 41 pounds of junk mail a year – and only 5-10% of it is EVER read by the intended recipient.  Why should an SMB invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in a marketing campaign which may not reach event 10% of the intended audience?

And when you think of it, “junk mail” is really a misnomer. It’s not junky looking – it’s usually quite slick and impressive looking (especially if it’s been printed on a Xerox). It's just that it’s often very BAD mail – mail that should never have been sent to someone in the first place. Mail that asks someone to clean their carpets when they have hardwood floors, for example. Mail that offers them dog walking when they have a cat.

Mail that looks great – it just isn’t for the person to which it’s been sent.

But there is one type of mail that is ALWAYS for the person it’s addressed to – Bills and Statements - otherwise known as Transactional Documents. It’s no wonder that over 95% of all transactional documents are opened and read by the intended recipient. Ever not open the light bill for a few months?

For the last few years, large or enterprise companies have come to believe that the easiest and most effective “advertising” they can accomplish is to advertise to their current customer base by combining these two types of mail – and that’s called “TransPromo”. The term TransPromo originates from the practice of combining both transaction and promotional marketing elements in one document.

Who hasn't received bank statements, invoices, informing them of performed transactions, or other informational documents in the mail? And who haven’t received coupon advertisements or glossy 4x6 full-color adverts addressed to “your name or current resident” in their mailbox? Effectively combining these two different documents in to one is what TransPromo is all about.  

Major corporations are using TransPromo every day to garner more and more business from current and past customers.

For example, in that stack of “junk” mail, right behind that direct mail coupon for carpet cleaning in someone’s “hardwood floor only” house, a major home renovation retailer sends a coupon for a Hardwood Floor Care system with a monthly credit card statement.  The retailer had drilled down into the data of the customer’s previous purchases and sent them a coupon that was specifically for them, based on their past purchases.

My NEW Hardwood Floor Care System is great, by the way.

Many SMBs who “get” TransPromo think of it as something that can only be implemented within large corporations. However, there are thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses that send out bills and statements each month that can reap the benefits from implementing TransPromo into their communications strategy, from doctors to local auto repair shops. According to the market research firm, InfoTrends, these documents represent almost 32 billion customer touch points and cost these companies about $120 billion per year.

Here at the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell), we possess the technology and the expertise to assist our SMB clients with TransPromo. Our technology is second to none in our industry – hardware and software provided by the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell) can create TransPromo documents that really effect change in our client’s own marketing campaigns. But it’s not enough to just create “Great Looking” advertisement.

At the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell), we know that color has been proven to increase participation, enhance learning, and increase a consumer’s willingness to read. The proper use of color in our customer’s TransPromo documents requires an understanding of why and how color works. Too much color can be distracting and make a statement look more like an over-the-top advertisement. Not enough color and one misses out on its attention grabbing advantages. Hardware or software can’t tell you how much or how little color a TransPromo mailer needs – only our Production / Marketing specialists can provide that value.

Additionally, when collected and used correctly, data can be a powerful tool. Understanding the data that drives TransPromo, and the resulting personalization opportunities, is imperative to campaign effectiveness. When it comes to data-mining and collecting the right data to use in TransPromo, the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell) Professional Services can provide real insight into those golden nuggets of data hiding in back-end systems.

So at the end of the day, what advantages do TransPromo documents offer the SMB?

  1. Guaranteed reading:  More than 95% of transaction documents are opened and read each month – far more than any other type of direct response effort.  In comparison, standard direct mail has a readership rate of about 7%. A TransPromo document ensures in a better way that the included promotional message will be read.
  2. Interest: With TransPromo, SMBs can develop personalized offers with a high degree of relevancy. That’s the secret ingredient in TransPromo success. Many SMBs have data-systems with actionable information on the purchasing histories and preferences of current customers. Using this past purchase history data, SMBs can make their advertising “interesting” to the intended recipient.  In companies that engage in TransPromo, customer response to TransPromo mailers are up to 20 times higher than with regular direct mail campaigns.
  3. Impact: When SMBs use TransPromo, they can generate impressive results. Research from the Forrester, TAWPI, Corporate Insight, Bancographyand, among others, indicates that relevant TransPromo content in a marketing campaign can boost year-to-year annual revenue over 36%
  4. Cost benefits: SMBs already must send invoices or other transactional documents. Including promotional messages in these documents instead of sending them separately is a tremendous cost advantage. More than 75% of the cost of mail is attributed to postage. TransPromo can significantly reduce mail costs because SMBs can aggregate direct marketing messages or notifications with documents that are already going into the mailstream.
  5. Customer loyalty: SMBs can build long-term loyalty by providing valuable information and advice to customers on a one-to-one basis. Helping customers understand key issues and make sound decisions increases their sense of trust in a relationship. Studies have shown that customers that receive TransPromo can be counted on for up to 30% more revenue than customers that don’t receive TransPromo.

TransPromo is an application ripe for the SMB.  Here at the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell), we can help doctors, auto-repair shops, bakeries – any SMB – to begin to reap the benefits of leveragingwhite space on the "must read" documents they already send out to their customers every single day.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Top 10 Tips To Running Your Copier This Leap Day

Today is leap day and because of this I thought it was appropriate to include some tips and tricks to running your copier effectively.

1.) Don't place the copier near a vent or window, fluctuation in temperature and light will adversely affect the copier output, particularly with color copiers.

2.) When in doubt reboot.  Make sure you know where the main on/off switch is on the machine.  This will be helpful with about 60% of all problems.

3.) Paper really does matter.  If you get 100% recycled paper or the cheapest paper you can find to run through the copier, realize that you will dramatically increase the paper dust in the machine and thus the likelihood of paper jams.

4.) When frustration sets in... Pause, hit the clear all or reset button and start over. Refrain from hitting, kicking or smacking the copier, resist temptation.

5.) Name someone the Copier Guru.  This person will actually know the copier, change the toner and ensure that it is working and when it isn't will know who to call.  It is unlikely that you can expect everyone to take their part in learning the copier.

6.) Put your pages (portrait or hamburger) in the document feeder the same way the paper is in the tray, this will lesson the confusion when trying to double-side and do any other finishing options.

7.) Look for images or stickers on the trays, they usually will help you figure out which direction paper goes in drawer (face-up/face-down/top/bottom).

8.) Place a cheat sheet or user guide near by and let people know where it is. Everyone learns differently and some people love to read the user guide... go figure!

9.) Copiers are usually defaulted to Auto Paper Select, if copying small sizes or to avoid any output malfunctions, you can always override this and select a specific drawer.

And the 10th tip to using a copier effectively is... (drum roll)

10.) Most problems are user error, don't fight the copier, it is on your side!

Happy Leap Day Everyone!

www.ctx-xerox.com | www.qbsi-xerox.com | www.pinnnell-xerox.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Uncovering Your Needs

As office environments and technology evolve, there are many areas to consider for companies.  This is also where the differences in how this job is done, wins and loses opportunities and separates me from my competitors.  A simple example that I see every day is the wants and needs with in a company.  These are usually so different from one department to another- odd, yet exactly how these folks symbiotically exist together.  I recently experienced this with an owner and staff of a small/medium sized company. They didn't even realize the uniqueness of their needs until I brought it up during the meeting:

The group included the president, IT manager, head book keeper, marketing manager and office manager.  The six of us sat down and I asked "if I could take notes to ensure that I could learn as much as possible as I don't spend nine hours a day, five days a week in their office."  As suspected, they said "please do."

After and hour and numerous topics that I brought up for the group to discuss- I finally said "here's what I heard- and please correct me where I'm wrong:"

"You Mr. Owner have three real priorities that I believe fall in the following order:  financial commitment to the new solution as #1.  Acquiring a reliable system that keeps the troops happy and is a better unit than the current one."

"Mr. Information Technology Manager: you want anything that comes on your network to be up to today's standards, will accommodate the next planned update and never causes you any network issues."

"Mrs. Marketing Manager: you need the VERY best quality, all affordable options for punching, folding, etc. and not only need it fast for your deadlines, but need it reliably so you don't have any other challenges to meet your needs."

"Mrs. Office Manager:  you are the main user and want speed, functionality, top notch training and although it will hiccup, you need a service organization that is timely and tremendously efficient so the technician not only has the parts, but doesn't come back for the same issue 2-3 times."

"And finally Mrs. Accountant:  you've been very clear that none of these things really matter to you.  You need simple, concise and clear monthly bills so you can track, invoice projects for cost recovery and ensure that all $ are accounted for to the penny."

There was a long silence... finally the President said "I bet none of us really considered how diverse the other's requirements are and we surely didn't communicate this the last go around when we looked at office equipment.  Please coordinate to have the system you recommend to be brought into our office with IT and the office manager and send me the numbers and some references I can check."

He and the IT manager left the room, the others stayed and we continued to talk for another 15 minutes about how I could positively impact their work.  At the end I agreed to send the accounting manager a sample billing and how we can track jobs.   The marketing manager  wanted to see some proof files in advance and the office manager wanted to know how fast and how many features I could put on the demonstration unit for their office. 

Most of my job, once I find an opportunity, can be done by asking a ton of questions, listening for a long time- then circling back around to ensure that all the bases are covered- even the ones "they" didn't know needed covering.

Scott Plemmons - CTX Market Director 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

$63,730 for Healthcare Adoption of Electronic Medical Records

Electronic Medical Records (EMS) and Electronic Healthcare Records (EHS) are the terms used to describe a paper-light medical office environment that will get medical practices a payout from the government.

Medical providers that did not take advantage of Oregon and Washington’s EHR Incentive program in 2011 can still begin participation in 2012.  Qualified practices that did not initiate EHR will still get the full $63,750.00 payout over 6 years of consecutive and nonconsecutive compliance until 2016.
Practitioners must bill Medicaid to qualify for the payout. Some restrictions can apply and in certain cases fluctuate. Dental and Chiropractic also qualify.

The first step is to apply for a National Provider Identifier or NPI. This is a unique 10-digit identification number issued to health care providers in the United States by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  More information can be found at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov

You then register with your state (i.e. medicaidehrincentives.oregon.gov/OHA/mhit/apply.shtml) and adopt, implement, or upgrade to a certified EHR system, based on the criteria set forth by the state. You must then prepare to attest with your state of jurisdiction. Once you have met the guidelines for EHS you will receive payment, and as long as you meet the requirements you will continue receiving pay outs for the term above.

Ways The Northwest Group (CTX, QBSI, Pinnell) can assist with your implementation:
  • The DocuWare Medical Records Division Product Group
  • Finding “Meaningful Use” providers to suit your needs
  • Workflow optimization assistance and training
  • Selection of EMR software that meets your practice culture
  • Back file conversion and digitization of client records
  • Integrating your current assets into your EHS system
The Northwest Group (CTX, QBSI, Pinnell) embraces this process as part of our 360°™ strategy to offer all areas of your business or practice our expertise in workflow optimization.  The outcome will be higher quality, more efficient healthcare for all of us!

-Chris, CTX Solutions Specialist

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) World

Recently, it was reported that over 90 million iPads will be purchased in 2012 –   just a few more than the 40 million purchased in 2011.  Additionally, Amazon reported that a week before Christmas, they were selling over 1 million Kindles a week – thanks in no small part to the Kindle Fire, a $199.00 tablet that does 80-90% of what an iPad can do, for less than a fourth of the price. 

It’s not at all going out on a limb to say that new tablet technology has revolutionized how we think about accessing information. As a consumer product, tablets are amazing: grabbing email, streaming videos, playing games, reading books, browsing the web – there really hasn’t been anything like it since the World Wide Web. 

But what about as an ENTERPRISE device? The Gartner Group estimates over 80% of business will support a workforce that uses tablets by 2013.
You may say, or your corporate IT may say, that “we don’t support these devices”. That’s all well and good, but as you may already know, your knowledge workers don’t really care about your IT rules.

In fact, if John Smith in Accounting already has your corporate wireless internet password and an Outlook Web Access address, that Kindle Fire that Santa delivered to him on Christmas Day is a fully functioning “enterprise device” on your network on January 3rd – with or without your permission or approval. 

These devices are coming. If you were debating whether or not to buy iPads for your employees last year and never got around to making a decision, you are now left with a stark reality: in the coming months, your network will be exposed to and connected to multiple tablet devices from multiple manufactures, all with different interfaces and apps. 

There’s really not much you can do about it. 

The days of a static, one-size-fits-all policy applied to company-owned assets are over. You are living in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) world.
It’s a scary proposition, made even more frightening if you don’t have the right technology partner to assist you in traversing this new digital minefield.  
Here at the Northwest Group (QBSI,CTX, Pinnell), we’re developing multiple mobile and cloud based technologies that will support the onslaught of BYOD.
For example, the Xerox Mobile Print application allows tablet users (any make or model) to print to any Xerox device on their network. Your best customer walks in with a copy of the latest contract on their iPad and they want to review it? No problem. Have them email it to cloud@yourcompanyname.com and let them pick it up at the Xerox device by the reception desk. No fuss, no muss. 

Additionally, by utilizing DocuShare, Xerox’s content management system, customers can take old, paper-based forms and easily convert them to fillable e-forms capable of being brought up on a tablet or a smartphone. Imagine filling out your vacation request form, time-card or adding a new baby to your healthcare plan by simply accessing an App on your Android, iPad, iPhone, Kindle or other mobile device. 

Cloud-printing? Mobile App development? Tablet computing? This doesn’t sound like a “copier company”, does it? 

The fact is, by all accounts, we are in the middle of a sea of devices – devices that our IT departments don’t purchase, don’t control and don’t support. But there they are, connected to our networks, accessing our email, our files shares, our documents – and it’s only going to get worse. 

At the same time, business are moving more and more applications off enterprise servers and off to the cloud.  And what better way to access cloud services than through a Mobile Device? 

So whether it’s something as simple as printing from an iPad or as complex as teaming with Cisco to help develop, deliver and support a “borderless network” cloud service to clients, Xerox is leading the pack with innovative new ideas and new product offerings.

So, we’re not just your neighborhood copier vendor anymore.
The commercials say Xerox is “ready for real business”.
At the Northwest Group (QBSI,CTX, Pinnell) we’re eager to be your real business partners. 

- Derek, QBSI: Solutions Specialist