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Cloud print adoption accelerates

Quocirca’s Cloud Print Services Market Landscape Report 2021 revealed that 72 per cent of organisations are planning to increase their use of cloud print management between now and 2025

The report, based on primary research carried out in January 2021 among 219 MPS users in the UK, US, France and Germany, found that the ability of cloud-based services to deliver flexibility, ondemand scalability and reliability, while controlling direct costs and administrative overheads, has come into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

IT teams have scrambled to support the shift to remote working as businesses have battled to maintain employee productivity. Cloud-based software and services have often played a central role in the tactical response to the crisis. 39 per cent have implemented a cloud print management platform and 37 per cent plan to do so in the next twelve months. 

Now, as the long-term effects of the pandemic become evident, businesses are taking a more strategic view of the future workplace and the technology and services that will be required to support a hybrid workforce working across the office and from home. 

Cloud print is the clear solution 

Historically, print has trailed other infrastructure on the journey to the cloud. However, the pandemic has highlighted the benefits of being able to manage and secure distributed hardware more effectively. The potential for cost reduction compared with running print servers on-premise is considerable, and now there is additional pressure to manage a hybrid environment, cloud print is the clear solution. 

Although moving print to the cloud has not been a priority until recently, adoption is accelerating as a result of the switch to hybrid working – in fact, 43 per cent of respondents expect all IT infrastructure to be cloud-based by the end of 2021. 

Reporting and analytics are also getting the cloud treatment, as businesses demand more granular insight into the usage and performance of their print network – wherever users and devices are based

Primary supplier selection factor Provision of cloud print services is a primary supplier selection factor and incumbent suppliers should not be complacent, Quocirca Director Louella Fernandes warns: “Almost half (45 per cent) of respondents said that offering cloud print services is a key factor influencing their choice of managed print service partner. This should prompt focus from MPS providers on building up the technology and skills needed to proactively lead customers to the cloud.” 

Louella says that MPS providers must position themselves to support the accelerating digitisation journey and demonstrate how moving print infrastructure to the cloud delivers the visibility, security, functionality and cost control needed by highly distributed organisations. 

“The growing focus on cloud print services is welcome news to OEMs and independent software vendors, who have developed innovative cloud-based solutions to support an enhanced user experience and workforce mobility,” she said.

“Security is a core focus, with solutions to support zero trust environments and robust user access management also on the table. This is the shift OEMs and ISVs have been waiting for and now is the moment for them to support customers with sophisticated and tailored cloud services. Both vendors and channel partners have a part to play in educating customers about the options available.” 

However, Quocirca’s research suggests that customers with fully outsourced MPS have not yet made the cloud transition; they are much more likely than those using hybrid MPS to be operating onpremise print. As a result, both customers and MPS providers are missing out on the financial and operational efficiency benefits that cloud print services deliver. A cloud print service can be delivered at a lower cost to the consumer, while still offering good profitability for the provider – a win-win situation. 

“This is an important area of both opportunity and risk for incumbent suppliers: an opportunity to help customers make the switch, while also a risk that competitors will capitalise on inertia to offer attractive cloud-based alternatives. MPS providers should invest in their cloud offering, skills and consulting service and be proactive about migrating their current customer base to the cloud,” Louella concluded.