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A marked disconnect

The second edition of Quocirca’s Print 2025 market insight study points to a bumpy road to print-digital convergence as office workers and IT decisionmakers disagree on priorities

The research, which builds on the first edition published in 2017 and was extended to include the perspective of office workers as well as re-visiting the views of IT decision-makers, revealed a significant disconnect in both parties’ expectations of the future converged print and digital workplace. Louella Fernandes, Director at Quocirca, says that the gap between business users’ demands and IT decision-makers must be addressed by vendors and MPS providers.

While office workers are pushing an agenda of smart mobile working and digital collaboration, the majority of IT decision-makers still envisage a print-reliant workplace to 2025 and are making investment decisions accordingly. This suggests that an IT workforce tied to traditional technologies may be one of the main barriers hindering increased productivity in the digital workplace.

A satisfaction gap
Fernandes said: “The print industry is at a critical point where it must build momentum around ‘as-a-service’ IT-centric offerings. However, identifying what customers need will prove difficult given the significant disconnection in priorities between those who use print technologies and those who specify and purchase them. This creates a satisfaction gap where office workers don’t get the productivity tools they want, and IT decision-makers see their investments failing to have the positive impact they anticipate.”

Quocirca contends that print vendors need to become strategic partners working with IT decision-makers to identify what business units really need, offering services that satisfy those requirements, while also responding to the security and control requirements of IT decision-makers. “Failure to do this will see print vendors continue losing influence with both IT decision-makers and lines-of-business at the crucial point where digital transformation focus is turning towards digitising paper-based processes,” Fernandes added.

Sustainability climbs the corporate agenda
The research also found that sustainability has leapt up the corporate agenda. 83% of respondents expect sustainability to be highly important to their business by 2025, while 52% of IT decision-makers state that lowering environmental impact is the number one print management challenge they face, outweighing cost reduction and security. By contrast, in 2017, reducing environmental impact was in 7th place in the list of print challenges.

Analysing the increase in sustainability concern, Fernandes notes: “The sustainability drive is focused on initiatives that will deliver the measurable results customers, employees and investors want to see. Print vendors need to quantify the environmental improvements that their services deliver and work in partnership to help businesses reduce their impact. The planned investments in environmental projects represent an opportunity for those print vendors who can deliver the right sustainability messages, backed up with evidence.”

Mobility and cloud
Quocirca’s research found organisations expect 66% of their workforce will be mobile by 2025, up from 49% today. This shows acceleration from 2017, when 36% were already mobile and it was anticipated 56% would be mobile by 2025. Mobile working was viewed by respondents as one of the key factors that will reduce print volumes between now and 2025, alongside greater use of collaboration tools and document capture and workflow solutions.

More organisations are taking advantage of cloud-based print management, with 73% expecting to increase usage by 2025. A quarter of respondents felt that print vendors should be investing in cloud printing to increase their relevance to the workplace. Unsurprisingly, security services and solutions topped the list of areas for vendor investment (30%), followed by print-to-digital integration platforms (28%) and energy monitoring (27%).

“The path to print and digital convergence is growing more complex and less linear, especially when increased environmental concern is added to the mix,” said Fernandes, adding: “The transition from the printed page in the context of broader digital transformation offers diverse options for businesses and this is creating tension between IT decision-makers and lines-of-business. To succeed in this market, vendors must develop deeply strategic relationships with customers to unpick their needs and devise a route to achieving them.”

Key findings include:

*65% of IT decision-makers believe paper will still be important to the workplace by 2025, compared to just 36% of office workers
*62% of office workers rank investment in digital collaboration tools as a priority, compared to 45% of IT decision-makers
*58% believe print vendors must become a strategic partner to IT decision-makers and lines-of-business
*49% expect digitisation of paper-based processes to be very important to digital transformation initiatives by 2025, compared to 25% today