Ten years ago, we would have supplied a resounding “YES!” for this question. Back then, printers were indispensable for printing and scanning important business documents, especially ones that needed to be signed. You could even use them to send and receive FAXES. Yikes. Now we feel old.
But today, things are very different. Smartphones have replaced a lot of electronics in our lives:
That big beige thing with the keyboard, digital display, and clear plastic window is some sort of printer, so yes, all of these things are indeed in your pocket now.
On a more serious note, whether or not your business needs a printer comes down to what type of business you’re running, and what your clients’ preferences are. If your clients demand printed documents from you, or you often need to scan multi-page physical documents into some sort of digital format, then yes, you need a printer in your office.
Smartphones > Printers
On the other hand, if you scan documents more than you print them, you can do that with your phone. A neat app called Tiny Scanner uses your phone’s camera to take a snap of the document and save it as a PDF and then allows you to share it with others over email, WhatsApp, social media, and more. And that’s just one option – there are many other apps that do the same.
Even if you sell things to people and need to take payments and generate invoices, you can do all of that digitally too. Mobile payment options abound, letting you accept payment and automatically generate digital invoices for your clients – no printer required.
What about signing?
And if you work with documents that need signatures, that’s another thing that can be done digitally. Adobe offers digital signing capabilities in its Acrobat Reader software; simply sign a piece of paper, take a picture of it with your phone, upload the photo, and boom, you have a legitimate signature for documents. Or you can use digital signing solutions like DocuSign if you often need documents signed inside your business.
The point is, there are ways around needing to buy, own, and operate a printer in your business. If you don’t like printers, or you resent the costs involved, or you hate the fact that you sometimes won’t be able to print in black and white if you’re running low on Cyan, you can absolutely replace a printer with apps, mobile payments solutions, and other digital services.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that having a printer in the office is still the easiest way to print, scan, and copy documents. If you can put up with the other inconveniences of printer ownership, that is. We recommend grabbing a non-colour multi-function laser printer for this; they are fast, they print text very clearly, and frankly, colour printers are overrated.
On the fence?
If you’re on the fence about printers, you can always rent one from a Managed Print Services Provider and make installing, servicing, repairing, and replenishing someone else’s problem for a modest monthly fee. Sure, it’ll cost you more over time than buying the printer outright, but then the associated problems are someone else’s responsibility to solve, and that’s definitely worth the price.
So yes. The question of whether you need a printer in 2023 is a resounding “No, but yes. Also no. Maybe.” Sorry.