PrintIT Reseller met up with Dan Wogan, Epson UK Product Manager – Managed Print Services and Business Solutions, to talk about developments in Epson’s inkjet technology. Here are some edited highlights from the video interview
PrintIT Reseller (PITR): 2017 saw some big developments in Epson’s inkjet portfolio, please could you give us a quick overview of the story so far?
Dan Wogan (DW): We’ve taken a big step forward in 2017. We introduced our biggest, our best ever inkjet product into the office space – the WorkForce Enterprise product offering two versions, a hundred page a minute device and a 75 ppm device. Two new products into a completely new category for us. This was the first time we’ve taken a big step into big workgroup and departmental size devices.
We also introduced a new version of our 24 ppm multifunction device with even larger RIPS (replacement ink cartridges), the idea behind that being that it requires far less intervention, there’s less opportunities for an end-user to be annoyed because the lights are ﬂashing on it.
We also extended our solutions partnership, added Nuance to the fold with their Equitrac and e-Copy products. So, as we’ve developed into the larger departmental space, we’ve onboarded some solutions to really make us tick in that kind of environment. There’s also our Print 365 print-as-a-service proposition for the channel. This has taken a really strong foothold and generated a lot of activity. From a UK perspective, we’re actually leading our European partners with their own business, so we’re leading France and Germany which have historically been stronger than the UK, so we’ve taken great joy in being the strongest player within our own business with that proposition as well.
PITR: The introduction of the WorkForce Enterprise line of A3 MFPs was a big story in 2017, why are they such a significant development?
DW: It’s a big investment from Epson. A fuser, a laser based product is effectively an oven in a printer and inkjet devices are far more efficient than that. So far, we’ve invested 400 million euro in the development of our inkjet technology so that WorkForce Enterprise is based on a new type of printhead for Epson and there’s a further hundred and eighty-five million euro to be invested in this process.
So, it’s a significant investment, it’s one of our core technologies. It’s effectively taking a technology that in our business we’ve been using in the industrial and the commercial workspaces and then shrinking it down into a smaller package. A smaller package that works within the office in the departmental space, but still prints at a very rapid rate with massive efficiencies, massive productivity benefits and a huge reduction in energy consumption.
We talk about very large numbers, we talk about 90 per cent reduction in waste and energy consumption. The WorkForce Enterprise will use a maximum energy consumption of 320 watts; that’s a third of that of a desktop 30 page a minute laser device and well over 90 per cent less than a comparative speed device. It’s a magnificent reduction in energy, and energy production actually generates 75 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases, so it’s a significant benefit from a sustainability perspective as well.
PITR: How have your channel partners responded to the new A3 devices?
DW: I’m always careful with using words like excitement when talking about printers, usually it’s just me in the room! But actually we’ve spoken to a lot of dealers who have been in the game for 30 years with a lot of experience and they’ve used words like excitement. They’ve said change is a good thing and it is a different technology, so there has been some, maybe preconceptions about inkjet we’ve had to overcome in the journey but actually the research community that we are working with have really embraced the idea of something different.
Different is good, it gives them something new to talk about because it can help them increase their margins, it can take them into new markets and it gives them new things to say. The arguments about cost reduction we can bring that about and actually we can bring that about because of energy reduction, so there’s another place that the cost can be dragged out of the equation for their customers. But equally there’s lots of other additional benefits – reduction in waste, reduction in intervention, it means that a dealer can actually look after more devices using the same engineering resource that they had previously, so it puts less strain on their service business. So it is a more efficient product for them to take forward and that’s why we are seeing a lot of dealers who historically we thought would be more difficult to actually take that step into a different technology, but they’ve been really open to the change.
PITR: Business inkjet has certain advantages for resellers from an MPS and servicing perspective, could you tell us what they are and why resellers should add your business inkjet products to their portfolios?
DW: There are the obvious benefits. I’ve mentioned previously about the lack of intervention, about being able to spend less time with the devices open so less servicing resource and they are more robust, but actually it’s not just about the products themselves. We’ve developed a multitude, a platform of MPS propositions, so we have a solution for a dealer that wants to do their own servicing, a traditional copier dealership type route to market and we have a proposition that fits that. But equally at the other end of the market, from an IT resellers’ perspective, we want a really light touch on the MPS world, but still wants to step into those recurring revenues, the contracted print kind of space. We’ve seen suggestions from the likes of IDC that’s saying by 2021 actually just under a half of all printing devices in a business environment will be as a service, will be contracted so, IT resellers are seeing that as a space that they need to move into.
We have a really simple proposition called Print 365 that enables people that aren’t classically steeped in print knowledge to take steps into that space as well. So that product sits upon our range of business inkjet devices, so we’re still able to deliver energy and waste reduction and real sustainability benefits, but on a platform that’s easy for any type of reseller partner to be able to transact. And we do use our partners for everything, we’re not a direct OEM business, everything that we do goes through our channel partners, so we’re absolutely relying on and absolutely keen to listen to partners and further develop our propositions to ensure that we enable them to be able to take those steps forward as we hit 2021 and beyond to make sure they’ve got the right proposition to suit the market.
PITR: What do you think will be some of the main priorities for printer buyers in 2018 and how can your WorkForce Pro and Enterprise Products help them achieve their goals?
DW: I think there are three S’s in this space – there’s security, sustainability and simplicity. As infrastructures become more complex, moving to the cloud perhaps, moving off-site, the ability to be able to integrate into those more complex environments means that endpoint devices like printers actually need to be simple. They need to be really easy to use, and from our consumer experience, and that side of the business whereby everybody’s houses are bring-your-own-device type of functionality, then we need to be able to be really easy to use by customers. We’ve taken that experience and brought that into the business space.
From a security perspective, there are things like GDPR data protection and regulation around data as it moves around businesses, and especially from a printer being an endpoint, there needs to be controls over that so that will continue to be a priority. The ability to have cost accounting or print release solutions and be able to track documents and information through businesses, that will continue to be important, and our extension of dealing with somebody like Nuance in that space with the WorkForce Enterprise device becomes key.
And then from a sustainability perspective; I think it’s entering even more into the general public’s thought process. When we see David Attenborough on Blue Planet talking about the damage that we’re doing to the environment, I think it enters more into everybody’s mind that we need to take steps, positive steps, and this could be something as small as reductions in energy consumption. And in the office, if we are moving to cloud by servers we’re moving servers off-site, then we’re reducing the amount of energy we consume there. We’re changing our lighting to LED, we’re reducing the amount of energy we’d use there. So the big step with printers is moving to a more highly efficient technology, it’s a really good step and when you wrap in the energy consumption and then the reduction in waste and the reduction in carbon emissions, our inkjet devices because they don’t generate heat we can talk about no ozone being produced, so we’ve got a really compelling message around those products; which fit into those priories that buyers are thinking about when they change their printing ﬂeet.
PITR: What does the future hold for business inkjet and laser technologies and where does Epson fit in?
DW: I can see the market changing more in the direction of business inkjet IT, IDC are suggesting that by 2019 even, as early as that, that 20 per cent of the print market will be sat using inkjet technology and that’s a section of the market. A departmental print that hasn’t embraced this kind of technology previously, so, that actually sits outside of where we currently sit and have a very large section of market and the smaller workgroup space in desktop space, which is where inkjet has historically been far stronger.
The market is changing; it’s taking into account the sustainability benefits of things like business inkjet and we can see that the market is very much moving away from inefficiencies all over the space. Different types of technology outsourcing where it’s more efficient to bringing things in-house, and actually taking out some of those inefficient technologies. And when you have an oven in your printing device that’s using kilowatts of electricity, it’s a very inefficient device. So, we see that the whole market is beginning to take into account the substantial benefits that inkjet can bring about and there are big changes in the market overall.