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18 April 2024 Blog Lasernet Banking Manufacturing Retail Utilities Platform ERP Solutions Document Management SaaS Private Sector

35 years of Lasernet

For 35 years, Lasernet has been formatting, printing, delivering and archiving data for ERP and banking solutions. It goes without saying that a lot has happened in the last 35 years. In 1989, the World Wide Web was born. In the 1990s, personal computing took off in a big way, with users trading bulky desktops for portable laptops. In the late 2000s and 2010s, landline phones gave way to smartphones. In the 2010s, companies traded costly and complicated physical servers for cloud computing.

In 1989, Lasernet was far from the state-of-the-art solution it is today. In fact, it started as a hardware unit called ‘LaserBox’. Let’s explore the solution’s long and innovative history, from its inception in the late 1980s to its 35th anniversary in 2024.

The Birth of Lasernet

Lasernet was born just as the matrix printer was losing its grip on the market. Matrix printing was extremely expensive, and maintenance costs were high. As a result, having logos printed on documents was a costly process. But the matrix printer's dominance wouldn’t last, all thanks to the invention of laser printers.

Compared to matrix printers, laser printers were affordable, easy to maintain, and allowed for the inclusion of logos and graphics on documents. That’s where LaserBox came in. Laser printers connected to LaserBox, a hardware unit that allowed companies to create documents, such as invoices, statements, and confirmations, that were comprised of more than plain text and tables. Using LaserBox, companies could easily print brand-rich documents containing visually pleasing logos and designs.

It was around this time that many companies were keen to do away with costly preprinted stationery used for business documentation, such as invoices, statements and delivery notes. For example, in order processing, orders were printed on top of preprinted firms, and it was challenging to get the text to fit in the preprinted layout. 

In short, it was LaserBox’s time to shine. Marc Jenkins, Customer Success and Partner Sales Manager (Middle East) explained the origins of LaserBox: “Because we were selling laser printers, our customers asked if we could put an overlay on the data sent to the printer… so we went away and created LaserBox.” 

LaserBox was connected to the printer and contained all of the logic and overlays that people wanted to add to the output data sent to the laser printer. This was a big advantage for companies using the solution, as they no longer needed to spend time and money purchasing costly preprinted stationery. But LaserBox’s journey had only just begun.

From Hardware to Software

LaserBox was the company’s core product for almost a decade before companies started transitioning to networks. During that time, hardware products were migrated into software versions, and we followed suit. And just like that, LaserBox was no more—at least in its physical form. A software version replaced the hardware, providing flexibility to work with multiple printers.

But the upgrades didn’t end there. Based on customer feedback, the team integrated email and fax and capabilities to make document distribution even easier. When users generated documents, such as invoices or purchase orders, a fax card in the server ran the software and transmitted it to the customer.

Soon after, one of our largest UK customers asked us to add electronic document storage capabilities. Rather than storing documents in bulky filing cabinets, they were stored electronically, saving not only office space but also the time required to locate documentation. And with that, the modern iteration of Lasernet came into being. But we didn’t stop there—the next 15 to 20 years would be spent adding even more capabilities in response to changing customer needs and technological advancements.

Growth Through Partnerships

Lasernet wouldn’t be what it is today without the partnerships we’ve forged. Historically, we have sold the solution to businesses in numerous verticals, predominantly manufacturing, transport, healthcare, and local authorities. We then formed a partnership with the ERP solution provider Infor, which allowed us to sell Lasernet to a multitude of companies, not only in the UK but globally.

As we gained traction with additional businesses selling our product, we identified other products that we could integrate and work with. This is where our relationship with Temenos began, and 17 years later, the partnership is still going strong. Mike Rogers, Head of Private Sector at Formpipe, said that the partnership request email sent to the Temenos sales team “will go down in history as one of the most gaming-changing that we’ve ever sent.” The impact that partnerships have had on Lasernet’s development cannot be overstated.

The Lasernet of Today

Today, Lasernet makes document generation and management a breeze. It is the ultimate document design, processing and distribution software, sitting at the heart of Formpipe’s leading output and document management solutions.

Its strength lies in its ability to work with almost any type of data, including XML and spool input, to generate, publish, and deliver branded documents in various formats, including DOCX, PDF, JSON, CSV, and many, many more.

Lasernet gives you the power to upgrade your ERP without upgrading. It lets you take the output from any ERP and use an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to deliver documents to your customers or suppliers—in the format that best suits them. But that’s not the best part. Lasernet also automatically ensures the right language, logos, colours, addresses and information are used based on your requirements and customer preferences.

With real-time processing and delivery to any number of virtual or physical output channels, Lasernet ensures your documents are always ready to support any business requirement—no job is too big or too small. Lasernet works with virtually any platform or application, whether it’s an industry-leading banking software, ERP solution or legacy infrastructure. If you’d like to learn more about our document and customer communication management solution, please watch our Introduction to Lasernet video.

What Does the Future Hold for Lasernet?

In its 35-year history, Lasernet has adapted to changing demands and technological advancements, and this won’t stop any time soon. Our drive to continually adapt to customer needs is just as strong as it was in 1989. 

The exciting news is that we’re working to make Lasernet part of our complete platform alongside Autoform DM and Formpipe Cloud. While we can’t give away all the details just yet, we can tell you that some of the key priorities are high availability and scalability to continue to ensure uninterrupted service for our growing global user base.

We’ve never been satisfied with standing still. Since 1989, the Lasernet team have created solutions to meet the demands of the day. Because of this dedication to meeting our customers’ changing needs, the Lasernet journey has been defined by big leaps. Since its inception 35 years ago, the solution has evolved from a hardware unit that plugged straight into a laser printer to an output management solution powered by the cloud and used by thousands of businesses globally.


Keep an eye out for the next instalment in this blog series celebrating 35 years of Lasernet, where we’ll be interviewing some of the individuals instrumental in Lasernet’s success.