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PRINT 2025: evolution or revolution?

Quocirca’s latest report PRINT 2025, is a new ground-breaking study on the smart, connected future of print in the digital workplace

Against a backdrop of hardware commoditisation, shrinking margins and a buyer landscape that will be less dependent on printing, Principal Analyst and PRINT 2025 author, Louella Fernandes, says there is no question the print industry must reinvent and reimagine its product and service offerings.

Louella Fernandes
Louella Fernandes

The print industry has seen significant consolidation, there are just 12 printer OEMs remaining from around 20 that were operational in 2000. Much of this has happened in recent years. In 2015, Hewlett Packard split into two companies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. In 2016, Lexmark was acquired by a consortium of investors (Consortium) led by Apex Technology Co., Ltd and PAG Asia Capital (PAG), and Sharp was subsequently acquired by Foxconn in the same year. In late 2017, HP completed its $1.05 billion acquisition of Samsung’s printer business, aiming to disrupt the copier industry.

The most recent acquisition to shake up the industry as reported in PrintIT Reseller last issue, is Fujiflm Holdings’ announcement that it will take over Xerox in a $6.1 billion deal. Fernandes predicts that there will undoubtedly be more consolidation ahead, with further mergers and acquisitions likely between now and 2025.

She argues that the print industry must start laying the foundations for the new digital workplace now, or it will not be prepared for the changes ahead. “The successful players of 2025 will be those that are software-centric and innovative, and which embrace open partnerships. The workplace of 2025 will be drastically different and the industry faces tough strategic choices ahead,” she said.

A must-read for OEMs and channel vendors alike, the PRINT 2025 report considers if the industry is ready to adapt to the changes ahead. It outlines the key strategies for success to drive relevance in the fast-changing market, explores the innovators and debates who will be the winners in the print industry of 2025.

Poised for profound change

With technology advancing at an unprecedented pace, the print industry is poised for profound change as we head towards 2025.

The future workplace will be radically different in terms of how and where we work and the technology we use. The millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, will not only have a dominant presence in the workplace, they will also enter the boardroom.

The journey to 2025 marks a generational shift as baby boomers retire and millennials become the largest segment of the workforce. This, along with more Generation Z employees (born between 2000 and 2009) entering employment, will create new challenges for organisations. These increasingly demanding customers, more accustomed to reading from a screen, will have different expectations of print technology in the workplace.

In the face of the changing technology landscape, printing has fought its corner. It has survived the onset of digital communications, the internet and the increasingly mobile workplace. However, automation, robotics and Artifcial Intelligence (AI) will become more pervasive. Employees in the workplace of 2025 will always be connected and the focus will be on driving wider collaboration beyond individual user productivity.

To survive and prosper in this rapidly evolving landscape, print manufacturers must develop new products, services and business models that will sustain and drive growth. This demands innovative thinking and a start-up mentality – in both core and new, emerging business areas. Quocirca believes that a focus on compelling solutions, machine intelligence and analytics, along with extensive partnering, will be the keys to success in this new era.

The landscape of change

To better understand the landscape of change in the print industry, Quocirca conducted two surveys: one with 55 senior industry executives in the US, Europe and Japan, and one with 575 SMB and enterprise organisations across the US and Europe.

The report shares the findings of these PRINT 2025 studies, highlights the views of end-user organisations and industry players around the changing print landscape, and discusses the challenges and opportunities ahead in the digital workplace of 2025.

The findings reveal that while the industry is optimistic about the future, it recognises that significant changes are needed across business structure, culture and innovation to respond to the threat of digital disruption.

The good news is that print simply is not going to disappear any time soon, however, while many organisations expect to remain reliant on paper in 2025, its overall importance will diminish as digitisation is set to accelerate.

The research discloses the areas where end-user organisations believe print vendors should be investing more to increase their relevance in the digital workplace.

Key strategies for success

So, is this change a revolution, or an evolution? Fernandes believes it is both. “Some industry players are enhancing existing products and services, creating new ones, and deepening their expertise in areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and analytics. In an industry that has historically been slow to change, if manufacturers and their partners can truly master the key strategies for success outlined in the PRINT 2025 report, it could certainly be revolutionary for the industry.”

The print industry has operated a structured and tight ecosystem with clearly defined boundaries, for decades. “Print manufacturers have ruled a largely proprietary market, with little challenge from new entrants,” said Fernandes, adding: “However, the industry is in a state of flux. The primary disruptive forces challenging the status quo are the rapid rise in mobility, the acceleration of digitisation and the shift to the ‘as-a-service’ economy. This is causing industry borders to be redrawn and sets the stage for a new era of connectivity, collaboration and innovation.”

Major industry players face the dilemma – as many legacy industries do – of how to protect their traditional core business, which still represents the lion’s share of revenue, while finding new revenue streams. “Constant innovation has seen the industry make massive strides in print quality, functionality, cost and energy efficiency, but this innovation has been targeted at the core business,” Fernandes said. “While the smart connected multifunction printer (MFP) is now integral to many workplace environments, manufacturers and their partners must develop products and services that increase their relevance in the digital workplace.”

Optimism for the future

The study highlights that there is optimism for the future amidst a declining print market, one of the research findings was that almost two thirds of print manufacturers feel positive about future revenue growth.

Quocirca believes that innovation is the key to success for manufacturers, however the report points to the fact that fostering an innovative culture is the top rated challenge amongst manufacturers. This is less of a challenge for channel organisations, who rate the transition to a service-centric business as their top challenge.

Managed print services (MPS) providers are expected to deliver the most strategic value by 2025. This is largely because as the industry moves towards digital transformation, it will need to become more software and services led. MPS providers have proven expertise in this area and the industry recognises that they will be key to future success.

Yesterday’s innovation is today’s commodity

The print industry is in the middle of a significant identity change, needing to protect legacy business while delivering new innovative products and services. “For many manufacturers, their brand heritage is based on technology which revolutionised the workplace yesterday – but yesterday’s innovation is today’s commodity,” Fernandes argues.

“The good news is that traditional print vendors can use their legacy footprint to deliver new business value, without straying too far from their core brand DNA. In today’s fast-moving technology landscape, the trust and authenticity of these long-standing brands will be a powerful asset,” she added.

The report states that the industry acknowledges the surmounting challenges ahead, even if the future is not certain. “Every player – from manufacturers to channel partners – needs to get ahead of these challenges now and make some hard choices about how to reposition their businesses to lead in 2025,” Fernandes said.

She added: “While the industry will continue to evolve, a revolution in approach is needed in order to thrive. Manufacturers need to become more agile, innovative, collaborative and adaptable to execute effectively – and ultimately do things differently. Together, the industry can be much larger than the sum of its individual parts.”

In conclusion, print businesses must consider the posture they wish to adopt: do they want to shape this future, be a fast follower or put off change completely? “One thing is certain, staying the same is not an option,” Fernandes stated.

To purchase the PRINT 2025 report and view the full findings please visit

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