As 2016 draws to a close, PrintIT Reseller asked a panel of cross-industry experts to consider what 2017 holds for the print and IT sectors
Bob Davies Commercial Director Integra Business Solutions
“Pricing will continue to be a key issue for dealers, post-Brexit currency ﬂuctuations will result in steady price increases across both hardware and consumables, could subsequently suppress investment and growth in the sector.
“MPS engagements will continue to grow, as more users particularly in the corporate sector, look to improve document production processes and reduce spend on paper and consumables. This sector is increasingly looking for ways to eliminate inefficiencies and improve productivity, which will inevitably help drive the shift from transactional to contractual purchasing models. There will subsequently be even more dependence on large workgroup MFPs and reduced demand for desktop and mobile devices.
“3D printing is one area to watch. To date, there has been more talk than action within the OP sector, although that may be all about to change. Probably the biggest inﬂuence in this change is HP’s entrance into the 3D arena with the launch of their Multijet Fusion range.
“Another key element within 3D printing is the anticipated introduction of high speed HSS 3D printing technology, however whether we will see much impact in 2017, remains to be seen.
“Finally, there is much talk of increased usage of digital signage, particularly managed digital signage solutions, which could start to suppress the requirement for large format printed signage.”
Derek Jones Managing Director Synaxon UK
“For Synaxon members, managed print services are a real opportunity for 2017. We have good partnerships with vendors and distributors of both devices and consumables and with the ease of ordering through EGIS, everything is in place, so there are no barriers to entry. Indeed, many if not most, of our reseller members are already developing a wider managed services proposition and it will make sense for them to offer print and replenishment services as well.
“That said, the broader opportunity to sell new and more efficient printers and multifunctional devices and provide the consumables to keep them going should not be underestimated. Most businesses still need to produce both basic documents for review and good quality printed output every day. Printer sales will remain a staple element of business for B2B resellers and independent retailers and that’s not going to change overnight.
“In the broader IT market, the trend is also very much towards services, but here too, there is still a need for good, dependable, local IT resellers and retailers who can provide and support simple solutions for SMBs. In most small firms, the core IT function revolves around email, web access, general productivity and accounting systems.
“Cloud-based services have to be part of the overall proposition now and with faster broadband speeds available, businesses can do more online and make use of cloud-based voice and other services. It’s also becoming the norm to put simple IT functions like back-up and print into the hands of a managed services provider and for most SMBs, ideally, that MSP will be their local reseller. Increasingly, it’s expected that resellers will offer these services as part of their normal value proposition, so in 2017, we’d expect our members to add to and enhance the managed services they offer and print should certainly be amongst that portfolio of offerings.
“As noted earlier, our members are moving in this direction and with the relationships and support Synaxon UK has with key suppliers, we can make it easier for them to engage with the right partners and learn about and transition to new offerings and ways of doing business. I expect us to get closer to our members and to see more and more three-way collaborations between us, our members and our supplier partners.”
Steve Martin Print Business Manager Tech Data
“In 2017, we will be doing our best to ensure that resellers can provide reliable, renewable and rewarding print solutions to their customers. For SMBs print remains vitally important and with the growth in popularity of cloud-based and managed solutions, we are also seeing much higher levels of interest in Print-as-a-Service and managed print.
“There will be a big opportunity over the next 12 month to help customers reduce their costs by providing managed and as-as-service options and this in turn will help resellers to get closer to customers and drive their businesses towards more sustainable models based on recurring revenue streams.
“Tech Data already offers enablement services for managed print and we will be increasing our activity in this area significantly and working with our key vendor partners, such as HP Inc, to provide resellers with the programmes, resources and support they need to develop the managed print services business.”
Jamie Brothwell Print General Manager Exertis
“2016 was expected to be the year of consolidation among brands as market conditions tightened, although I doubt anyone foresaw HP’s acquisition of Samsung. I do, however, see the conditions that drive the need for consolidation continuing into 2017, especially as print moves more toward a service model and lower end unit shipments continue to be highly pressured.
“Equally I can see the emergence of more closed channel propositions. As customers demand greater value from their print solutions, the requirement for wrap around service and support of a technology or brand will determine to a large degree which channel partners are able to invest in this area and are equipped to provide the necessary level of service and customer experience.
“Consequently, and this is one thing we see at Exertis, the convergence of the MPS and IT marketplaces will gather pace. More print brands will bring MPS propositions to the IT space as the mid-market and above customers have clear expectations around factors such as cost per print, contractual options and longer term cost-of-ownership. This area of the market will grow in value and whilst volume may decrease overall, the outlook for the market as a whole is one to be optimistic about.”
Stuart Bleese Category Manager Technology VOW
“General market trends are seeing an increasing use of A3 colour printing and HP’s acquisition of Samsung’s printer business demonstrates the potential growth opportunities offered by this area. Purchasing trends are migrating across to newer, faster, more economical and effective inkjet ranges as consumers are seeing benefits of newer inkjet printers compared to their laser counterparts.
“The new genre of PageWide also offers additional growth opportunities. PageWide printers offer all the effciency benefts associated with inkjet printers while using environmentally friendly technology similar to that of laser printers. They also deliver print quality that is on par with laser printed documents.
“The trend of calculating upfront costs when purchasing printers has seen a steady incline over the last year and will continue to feature for years to come. Products such as those in Epson’s new EcoTank range offer end-user savings with the ink to print output ratio.
“Instead of a completely paperless office, we are seeing a ‘less paper office’. Mobile technology has resulted in several documents not being printed as frequently as they used to be. For instance, emails are not being printed for meetings as they can be accessed on tablets and mobile phones, but printed reference documents still have their rightful place in most offices. The ‘touch and feel element’ of a printed document cannot be underestimated. At the same time, mobile printing is here to stay and is becoming more and more widely used.
“Mobile working and home offce trends are also here to stay and in fact grow in years to come as businesses aim to adopt more ﬂexible and family friendly working practices. To reﬂect this, products that complement this trend such as compact and wireless printers will be popular with resellers’ customers. There are also new products to complement social behaviour, namely HP’s new machine for social media printing to print pictures on sticky backed paper to display and personalise any environment. AirPrint is also set to become more commonly used across all working environments, whether it is within a corporate environment or a home office.”
Jason Cort Director of Product Planning and Marketing Sharp Europe
“IT services will become a key differentiator between competing office equipment resellers and IT service providers as SMBs seek value-added professional IT service providers and source more hardware paid for ‘as a service’.
“Businesses want to deal with fewer suppliers who understand their company and their industry and can provide full solutions – hardware, software and servicing. This presents an opportunity for us and our dealers to become more than a manufacturer and supplier and instead be a trusted partner; going beyond selling print or visual devices to providing consultancy, solutions and services to create real long-term business value.
“The rising cost of print amid the general increase in costs for many aspects of businesses could depress print further and increase the shift away from print to digital. Particularly in the Public Sector we are seeing an increasing appetite for digitalisation, as a reﬂection of the changing information consumption habits of today’s students and millennial workforce. And key organisations, such as the NHS, are setting ambitious targets to automate and digitalise processes, in an effort to reduce waste, costs and environmental footprints.
“However, MPS vendors should also be able to turn this into competitive advantage with the cost control and cost down value proposition. By introducing devices or products that connect to each other rather than functioning in isolation, the process of storing, sharing and handling information is easier and more efficient. It is therefore up to manufacturers to equip dealers with these different avenues and services, as well as any necessary training and for dealers to help end-users realise the potential of improved processes achieved through an integrated approach.”
Carl Day Sales Director Indirect Division Toshiba Tec UK
“Volume: I think technology and a more consultative approach to paper generation and movement will continue to reduce office print volume. We are seeing a 5 to 7% decline in the market in the Nordics which tends to lead the way in Europe in terms of technology usage.
“Client Approach: For the reason above I believe it is more important than ever before that dealers approach new opportunities in a consultative manner. Over the last 12 months I have developed an engagement process which we share with our dealers to help them get a full understanding of their clients’ business and needs. We have also spent time understanding our dealers’ goals and set joint objectives and actions to help them achieve them.
“Pricing: The weak value of the GBP could halt the decrease in street pricing for hardware, as many manufacturers are struggling to maintain margins in the face of a weak pound. However, new entrants to the offce print market could potentially ‘UBERise’ our market. To build contingency against this we have continued to focus on the development of dealers’ capabilities and also introduce new products to their portfolio. For example, we have recently run a series of workshops for our MFP dealers on the AP (Barcode & Label print) market to introduce the opportunity and help them create diversity in their client offering.
“Product: The way we use technology to improve business processes continues to drive product development. I also believe EDM and workﬂow software such as Planet Press, will continue to grow their market. As more and more organisations try to manage larger volumes of data, managing it is fast becoming as much of an issue as it was managing paper archives. EDM products are being developed to appeal to a wider audience and how our devices interface with these products will be essential to our growth over the next five years.
“Environment: I think we will start to see more environmentally aware products and schemes in the coming months, as we become more aware of the damage that we are causing to the planet, consumers will be driven towards more eco-friendly products and services. We have seen a huge rise in interest in our carbon offset scheme and more and more clients are choosing suppliers that are taking the environmental issues seriously.”
Eddie Ginja Head of Innovation KYOCERA Document Solutions
“Over the past two years, many resellers have already made the jump from conducting transactional business to selling solutions, often in the form of managed print services. However, moving into 2017, partners need to make another shift which emphasises additional solutions in the form of apps and other software that integrates with and complements customers’ existing MPS or cloud printing platforms.
“Above and beyond managed print, software is becoming more and more integral to end-users, with people regularly printing from a plethora of devices, whether they’re at the office or working from home. We’re seeing a substantial increase in market demand for apps in particular, which is in alignment with the changes we are seeing in how people actually work, customers are still printing, but in a very different way to in the past.
“Cloud as a technology has been with us for a few years now and although used largely by enterprises to outsource critical services, cloud printing is not yet mainstream in the enterprise segment. As enterprises outsource more and more of their services to the cloud, we think 2017 is the year that cloud printing becomes more mainstream.”
Andrew Hall Marketing Manager OKI Systems (UK)
“There is a common perception that the demand for print will significantly reduce due to the proliferation of digital media, easily accessible via mobile devices and tablets, allowing people to view documents in electronic forms, anytime, anywhere.
“Digital communications are losing their impact however as the sheer volume of messages users receive continues to rise exponentially. With email marketing now more popular and easier to implement for any size of business, people are facing loads of emails and it is getting more difficult to capture the attention of the recipient. The challenge therefore for any business is how to attract the attention of the desired recipient.
“Research has shown that reading a physical document, especially if colour is used, leads to a far greater level of engagement and information retention than electronic formats. (In a recent study, 88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read on printed paper compared to 64% and less when reading on electronic devices).
“The same research also highlights the impact of printed advertising vs. digital. 48% pay more attention to advertising when reading leaﬂets received by mail vs 26% paying more attention to digital online advertising.
“So, the way businesses communicate needs to change. We expect the demand for printed communications to increase as businesses move towards more effective communications that are personalised and with eye-catching colour graphics, grabbing people’s attention, resulting in a higher conversion rate and a greater RoI than email marketing.
“Printing combined with digital data is the perfect combination for more effective communications. Personalisation is key to ensure the recipient engages in the desired way intended. So, we see that the future of print will have a major impact on the way we communicate with customers in the future.
“Smart multifunctional devices will continue to grow as they are able to integrate more seamlessly with digitisation and document workﬂow in the workplace. High print security protocol, a compact footprint and integration with document management solutions ensures businesses of all sizes will benefit from true multifunctionality without a huge capital outlay.
“2017 will be a challenge, however changing the way customers think about print will result in a positive outcome and beneft for all.”
Phil Jones Managing Director Brother
“Mergers/Acquisitions/Failures: The changing landscape poses significant risk for either bad debt or business failure in the channel. Smaller industry vendors may consider merger or acquisition to survive and small resellers may continue to be acquired by larger competitors consolidating customer bases under common cost models.
“Value chain going up into services not boxes: SaaS, service desk management and project management (PRINCE2 level) is becoming the de facto standard for large scale projects. This points to services orientated organisations continuing to thrive and survive. We will see ﬂeet optimisation and audit services becoming a hygiene factor, rather than a nice to have for print vendors and resellers.
“Competing priorities: Resellers are beginning to get a sense of urgency to protect their customer base from direct vendors, compatible resellers as well as traditional competitors. Print vendors are actively competing with copier vendors in the MPS space on cost per click, the HP/ Samsung print business acquisition signals intent in this area, while copier vendors continue to push centralisation vs print vendor de-centralisation and balanced deployment.
“Business ink: The business ink marketplace shows good resiliency in amongst technology as A3 capability for larger spreadsheets/bigger documents continues to be in demand within businesses of all sizes.
“Post-Brexit Britain: Price Inﬂation due to Brexit will continue to be a concern, all vendors whether dollar or Euro-based cannot absorb the currency devaluation at current rates. If the pound stays at its current level then hardware pricing is very likely to increase across all IT sectors.
“Skills shortage: Vendor level merger, acquisition and layoffs means that more salespeople will come back onto the market as the industry gets smaller and the high wage inﬂation we’ve seen over the past two years will slow down. Whilst resolved in the short-term, the skills shortage remains a longer-term issue with younger talent not coming into the pipeline amongst an ageing industry. We can expect more activity around apprenticeships from vendors and major resellers in the midterm.
“Print trends: There will be a shift to multi-function devices from single function and mono laser to colour laser. The marketplace continues to speed up with focus on SME/Enterprise as many vendors look to secure their print volumes via promotion of higher value machines. High volume ink tanks appearing on inkjet devices to tackle ink loyalty migration with users. Print on the move or from devices will continue to grow as an opportunity using applications or physical hardware capable of portability. MPS comes down the stack as a BPS (Basic Print Services) simplified product proposition will become mainstream.”
Jonathan Whitworth Managing Director DSales UK
“The huge growth in the BYOD phenomenon, where workers opt to use their own smartphones and tablets as their device of choice to connect to the internet, continues to have the biggest impact on the repro market.
“Workers want to take advantage of their new mobility to be free from the need to return to a desktop PC for printing or scanning jobs. Instead they want web pages, PDFs or photos to be printed straight from their mobile device to save time and inconvenience. As a result there is a growing need to support mobile and cloud printing via AirPrint (iOS), Mopria (Android 4.4 or higher), Google Cloud Print, Wi-Fi direct and popular cloud services such as Google Apps, Evernote and Microsoft SharePoint.
“Consequently, Develop is including NFC functionality into most of the new ineo MFPs for the office, to allow direct pairing, authentication, touch to print and touch to scan, with a mobile device.
“These developments offer an excellent opportunity for the channel to review and upgrade customer MFD ﬂeets so that they can support the growth in mobile and cloud working.
“Workﬂow solutions which streamline document processing are also now a key driver in MFD sales. To meet the demand from customers for complete software and hardware solutions Develop has some excellent document management software (DMS) solutions that are unique to the brand.”
Angela Osborne Sales Manager, Digital Finishing and Office Division Duplo UK
“For Duplo, the channel is still potentially our biggest growth opportunity for the foreseeable future, not just in 2017. Predicting the future became a great deal more difficult after the Brexit vote and the industry has already faced price increases. We’re confident that our overall offering will continue to drive new business gains and a continued growth for our business.
“We’re also certain that the drive for systems producing short-run products is bound to continue this year, with finishing equipment playing a key role in product quality and value added. Users want full automation, easy integration, minimal wastage and a good return on their investment. Where print will ﬂourish is where the output is of a higher quality.
“Companies continue to look at how they can produce beautifully printed and finished documents in-house, so the need for desktop binding solutions for quotes, prospectus and reports is increasing. Document security will also continue to be an increasing talking point in the year ahead, so we expect the shredder market to show further growth.”
Phil Madders Managing Director Print Audit Europe
“At the heart of my predictions for 2017 is the realisation that business is not getting any easier. Our dealers have to work harder and smarter to remain successful in a tough market.
“Data analytics is going to be a key part of any business relationship in 2017. Our dealers and their customers are going to want to see complex data in a simple and timely fashion so they can make well informed business decisions. We are working with key partners to develop this capability. We expected the requirement to be focussed on improving internal processes and operational aspects of the business, however in the very competitive environment we operate, this has also developed into a very powerful sales tool.
“It seems to be part of a growing trend that customers know more and demand more. Perhaps after several years of MPS, customers are becoming more knowledgeable and sceptical in the claims of savings and now seek more information from the dealer they engage with. This is reﬂected in more consultative selling across all opportunities. At PAE we see this in requests for reports to feed into auditing software like Salesdrive, and use of the PA Assessor as the dealer is driven by the quest for profitable business and understanding their customers and their challenges in even more detail.
“The use of TCO calculations, ﬂoor plans and establishing the workﬂows of the customer are more prevalent than ever before and will continue to grow in 2017, but it needs to be accessible and easy to demonstrate the predicted savings are achieved.
“The growth of cloud-based solutions from major service management players has brought improved business management within the budget of many more dealers. We see more and more of our data being imported directly into back-office systems to improve efficiency and reduce operational costs of our partners through automation. This is going to accelerate in 2017 and more programmes will be developed like the ATF programme from Katun that will plug in to the dealer’s back-office and effectively outsource and automate the toner handling aspect of the business.
“I think 2017 will see more collaboration and cross-fertilisation between suppliers of different services working together to provide more comprehensive offerings that add real value to the channel and help the dealer to reduce office costs and improve their business. Of course we will want to be able to report on all this excellence, so we come back to Data analytics.
“New pricing models – 2017 may be the year that we see true SaaS pricing entering the market in a major way. We are slowly growing this aspect of our partners’ business but it’s still seen as an odd way to do business in our channel. However with Microsoft Office 365, Google Docs, Apple Music and Netﬂix now accepted as mainstream, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the subscription model will break into our channel soon. Our sister company in the US has introduced a seatbased billing model to a few key dealers as a pilot. The results so far would suggest that it is a great way to align the objectives of the customer and dealer, and beneft both parties. Of course you need to be able to analyse the data to prove it is delivering as promised.”
Simon Hill Sales Director UK & Ireland Nuance Communications
“It is likely that there will be a collective holding of breath from a customer perspective as they await the implications of Brexit. Therefore, we anticipate some customer caution in the first quarter of 2017. That said, business still has to go on and it’s likely that many of them, especially those with a global presence, will have weighed up the pros and cons of making purchasing decisions ahead of Article 50 being triggered in March 2017. Rather than putting purchasing decisions on hold, I anticipate that they will continue with their plans.
“In some quarters, concerns over Brexit could also be a driver for the greater adoption of managed print services; they give end-users an assurance that print costs will be controlled and can be predicted in uncertain economic times and when combined with Intelligent Print Management solutions, help to keep print costs and volumes under control.
“From an industry perspective, while efforts will continue to make MFPs easier to use, more efficient and cost effective, device security will become a higher priority for MFP manufacturers in light of the ongoing security risks posed to the digital economy, government and industry compliance mandates, and an MFP’s role as the backbone of a company’s digital workﬂow. We will also see further developments in the feld of mobile print and a greater uptake of this functionality as BYOD continues to defne the tools people use in and out of the workplace.”