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Technology Today


The Great Office Technology Merger: Is a New "All in One" Device in Your Small Business' Future?
David E. Gumpert

(reprinted from Hewlett-Packard Company###s Small Business web site)


Many of the technology industry###s so-called pundits speak much about the coming merger of important technologies—Internet and telephone, computers and television, credit cards and chips.

But in the world of office equipment, key technologies that we use every day have already begun to come together in very real ways. More and more businesses are improving their productivity, while cutting their costs, with a new breed of equipment that enables them to fax, copy, print, and scan—all from a single unit.

Sure, this equipment is certainly technologically impressive, but today###s owners and executives of small businesses who take advantage of these "All-in-One" devices can expect much more than just a "gee whiz" from their colleagues.

Consider the following advantages:

  • Save time. Suddenly, there is no more need to run back and forth between different devices or to head down the street to a copy center or graphic service office to get your project completed. With a single device to handle the scanning of a graphic image, its printing, multiple copying, and faxing to a prospect or customer, important time can be saved—and revenue earned.
  • Save money. The cost of a single piece of merged equipment is less expensive than buying separate single-function products. You may find that you###ll be able to save as much as 70 - 75% over the cost of purchasing individual units, money which you can surely invest elsewhere in your business.
  • Save space. With space at a premium in many small business locations—especially those located in the home—the combined product can provide important space savings. Suddenly, there is room for the files, shelves or other items that you couldn###t get to fit previously.
  • Making decisions. As attractive as the All-in-One devices are in terms of time, money, and space, entrepreneurs should assess other factors as well. These include:
  • Existing equipment. The decision about acquiring one of the combination devices can become more complicated for small businesses that already have certain equipment—say, a printer and fax machine—but determine they need a copier and scanner. Is it worthwhile to buy four capabilities in one if you only need two of the capabilities? Possibly, if the existing equipment is old or has insufficient capability.
  • Current needs. For businesses investigating these combination devices, it is essential to match their needs with the equipment###s specifications. The combination equipment has the same sorts of specifications as individual devices—printing and copying speeds, faxing options, and scanning flexibility.

A company that has very heavy-duty printing requirements may, for example, determine that it should obtain a separate high-end printer rather than a combination device—especially if it already has one or two of the other capabilities in-house.

  • Future needs. In evaluating the kind of equipment to obtain, you should consider what your faxing, printing, copying, and scanning needs are likely to be a year or two down the road. If your company is involved in publishing, for instance, you might determine that you###ll need a sophisticated scanning capability within a year.

In that case, you may still find it cost-effective to have four capabilities immediately, with the intent of adding a separate single capability down the road; the other three capabilities in the combined device may still justify the purchase.

  • Equipment capabilities. Not all combination devices are created equal. Some provide greater speed or higher quality of output than others. It is important to evaluate all the models a company offers to assess the possibilities.

Clearly, the decision to acquire an All-in-One device isn###t simple. As in so many areas of business, the decision comes down to making tradeoffs. The right decision, though, can have big payoffs in productivity.

(David E. Gumpert is an expert on small business management, who has authored three books on small business planning and management; he is also editorial director of NetMarquee Inc., (, which specializes in developing and managing small-business-related content for the Internet.)

Copyright © 1997 by NetMarquee Inc. and/or owner/author as appropriate.

Reprint courtesy of Hewlett-Packard Company. Visit HP###s Small Business web site at for product info, how and where to buy, support, tips and tricks, articles, and all the latest small business news from HP.