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Bringing Order to Document Management
Businesses often spend millions of dollars on lavish PCs, servers, networks and a slick Website to get their staff humming as a coordinated hive of activity, but employees still fail to maximize their efficiency, due to a lack of information or document management within their organization. A company employing around 250 employees wastes as much as HK$5 million a year searching for information or recreating information which has been misplaced, according to researcher firm IDC.

Staff are often having to reinvent the wheel every time they draft a document, proposal or other correspondence, because many companies still do not have a single point of access to store, retrieve and share emails, documents, spreadsheets and reports among staff.

"The way we create and manage documents now is very different from around five years ago, but surprisingly many companies are still wasting valuable time and storage space searching for and filing documents in the traditional way," Joseph Yu, Managing Director for Fuji Xerox Hong Kong explained. "Because of this, multi-functional digital devices together with document management solutions are where we expect future growth in the office equipment market to come from."

Traditional photocopiers and printers have come a long way since Fuji Xerox (Hong Kong) Limited (previously named as Rank Xerox Limited a€“ Hong Kong Branch) was established in 1964. Around 11 years ago, the company's product development moved from standalone copiers into multi-function print, copy, scan and fax devices.

Mr Yu said Fuji Xerox was convinced the all-in-one machines were the future, but initially his sales force experienced a lot of apprehension from customers who were concerned about having all their eggs in one basket in case the machine broke down.

"Customers told us they were more comfortable having four devices a€“ fax, printer, copier and scanner a€“ because if one broke down, not everything would be held up in the office. Although having a single vendor and device makes more sense than dealing with four, there was a lot of resistance to the idea, but over time customers have seen the value of having one machine," he said.

Pledges of service offered to customers also played an important role in winning skeptics over, Mr Yu added. "Machines break down from time to time, but the key is how fast you can provide service to make it work again. In Fuji Xerox's case, the average up time to fix a breakdown is four hours. We focus on up time rather than response time as this is what brings true value to customers."

In the last seven years, the company's focus has been on document management solutions. But it is not alone. Other vendors in the market are also integrating their hardware with software applications networked in organizations. Mr Yu says Fuji Xerox's advantage over others is its complete range of products, from simple home-use printers to office document management solutions to high-speed printing presses.

"We carry the widest spectrum of products, and increasingly we are no longer selling just equipment, but a service, complete with people. This allows our customers to concentrate on managing their businesses, rather than managing their documents," he said.

This strategy also extends globally as large companies expanding into the region want to standardize their document workflow throughout their branch offices. The system, besides mirroring a company's headquarters document management system, also needs to bridge cultural differences, people's expectations, and staffa€?s previous experiences.

"Getting everything to work flawlessly across multinational operations can be a huge headache, particularly as many large companies now have numerous departments," Mr Yu explained. "This is why we decided to set up Fuji Xerox Global Services in April this year. It enables companies to have their staff 100% focused on their core business, instead of managing the printing and document management side of the operation."

Such a service has proven to be successful in North America and Europe over the last 15 years, and although relatively new to Asia, Mr Yu said a lot of customers have welcomed this new service. "This is an area we see a lot of opportunity for growth," he said.

Corporate social responsibility
The growing problem of electronic waste (which The Bulletin reported on in its cover story last month), is forcing companies to consider the end-life of their products. Besides operating to ISO 14001 standards, Fuji Xerox has also set goals that its contractors and suppliers also be ISO 14001 compliant. More significantly, in 2004, Fuji Xerox set up a plant in Thailand to recycle all of its used office equipment and cartridges from the Asia-Pacific region.

The used office equipment is disassembled and separated into parts categories, while non-reusable parts are sent to recycling partners for material recovery and recycling. Mr Yu said the material recycling ratio averages just under 90%, and the project has a zero-landfill policy.

For treatment of parts containing hazardous materials, such as mercury, the substance is removed and refined. Parts that cannot be treated in Thailand, are sent to Japan for processing.

"We are the only company in the industry that does this," says Mr Yu. "We feel we have to protect the environment, even though the cost of breaking down a machine is higher than assembling a new one."
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