the promises of office automation in the 1970s included that of the "paperless office." Instead, adoption of information technology increased and printing needs grew prodigiously.
Today, printing and its attendant costs, especially those of ink, toner and paper, are facts of life at most companies, despite those e-mail footers that remind users to "think before they print." And policies intended to reduce those costs, such as advising users to print in draft or duplex mode, are inconsistently applied and all but unenforceable.
Even worse, many business decision makers have no real idea how much printing is costing their companies. Despite the fact that inkjet printing ink can cost $8 to $10 thousand dollars per gallon and that an average employee can print 10 to 20 thousand pages per year, according to widely published estimates. This lack of visibility into actual printing costs makes credible, quantifiable business arguments in favor of investments that reduce those costs difficult to make.
These dynamics were largely responsible to the business media attention given to reports in 2010 of a default font change at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. The university switched its default printing font from Arial to Century Gothic and saw printing ink requirements fall by some 30 percent, according to those reports.
However, there is no consistently effective way of enforcing such a change across most enterprises. Even the University gave users the option of reverting to the original default font, almost assuring at least some deviation from the policy.
What's needed are tools that enable and enforce printing practices that consistently reduce costs significantly and measurably. These tools must be applicable to all printers in an enterprise, and cannot interfere with or change how IT is used or managed in any way. Business decision makers also need the ability to know what printing is costing their companies, and how printing is being used, to optimize the business value of their investments in printing equipment and supplies.
Fortunately, such tools exist. Preton Ltd., founded in 2005 and headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, has been shipping such solutions for years. (Leading technology market-watchers at Gartner named Preton a "Cool Vendor" in 2006.) The company's PretonSaver family of solutions uses patent-pending "Pixel Optimizer Technology" algorithms to analyze documents and then to print them in ways that save ink or toner without visibly degrading image quality. Independent testers found that Preton solutions can cut ink/toner consumption by as much as 70 percent for text and 50 percent for graphics and images while retaining acceptable readability.
PretonSaver software, installed on individual PCs or shared servers, operates transparently, requiring no changes to installed printers, printer drivers or application software. And the PretonSaver Premium and Enterprise editions (for 25 to 500 and unlimited users, respectively) can be configured for centralized implementation, enforcement and management of policies designed to reduce costs, enable greener business operations or to meet specific business needs.
For example, duplex printing - the printing of two content pages per sheet of paper - is often difficult and daunting for users to invoke from their editing applications or their printer control panels. PretonSaver Enterprise software can be configured to implement duplex printing across all networked printers and to invoke it automatically for every print request, if desired. It also offers detailed insights into who's printing what and how much each print job and printer is costing the company.
Most recently, Preton has begun offering the PretonSaver Home edition, designed for homes and offices with up to three PCs, as a free download. The software installs easily and requires no set-up or registration. And like all editions, it allows flexible choice of savings levels and print quality, for text, photos and graphics, as well as automatic omission of images from print requests.
Today, PretonSaver software runs on Microsoft Windows XP (with Service Pack (SP) 2), Windows Vista and both 32- and 64-bit Windows 7. The company is planning support for Linux and Macintosh operating systems as well, CEO and Founder Ori Eizenberg said in an interview.
There are other solutions that promise to reduce printing costs. Notable among these are Ecofont, ecoPrint2 and InkSaver. However, InkSaver and EcoPrint2 are only available in editions for individual/SOHO (small office/home office) use, and EcoFont only reduces ink/toner consumption for text printing, not graphics or images. Also, none of these other offerings supports as many versions of Windows or as many types of printers or content as the PretonSaver offerings. And none of these alternatives supports Preton's Pixel Optimizer algorithms, nor offers annual subscription billing options available from Preton.
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