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Print Predictions: part two

As yet another year draws to a close, leading print OEMs, ISVs and channel services providers share their thoughts on what 2023 will hold for the print and IT sectors

Vaclav Muchna, CEO, Y Soft: “According to forecasts, 2023 will be the peak year in terms of employees returning to the office workspace. Traditionally, significantly more people work from the office in the Czech Republic than in Western Europe (around 45 per cent), but thanks to this it is possible to better predict domestic trends. While Western Europe expects a resumption of the drop in people working from home as soon as 2024 (when the percentage of those working from the office will peak at 55 per cent), we expect this trend a year or two later in the Czech Republic. From the point of view of local companies, the reason for this is both the greater requirement for employee control and also the greater conservatism of companies and their employees.

“In the large cities of Western Europe, when daily commutes last two to three hours, home office as a benefit is seen in an eight to 10 per cent increase in salary, whilst in the Czech Republic it is less (due, amongst other things, to shorter commuting times). Even so, hybrid work from the office and other locations will drive the trend of dismantling print infrastructure and shifting print (and scan) management in the cloud.

“From a technological standpoint, there will be a demand for cloud solutions which allow direct access of both printers and computers to the cloud, as well as the so-called Edge model, where branch offices will house a device to handle the storage of print jobs, thereby eliminating the necessity of sending documents to and from the cloud.

“A further trend will, from the IT perspective, be digital equivalence, i.e., providing employees who move around outside the office space with the same productive environment as though they were in the office. VPNs and similar solutions will die out, while applications which can work from anywhere (and ideally on any device) thanks to the cloud will create a bright future. Investments into digital equivalence will be impacted by the growing recession, which will delay many investments by a year or two.

“A larger trend is slowly beginning to make its mark in the area of ESG, especially as foreign clients are increasingly demanding ESG from their Czech (though not only Czech) suppliers. In the area of print, this will mean monitoring or even offsetting the carbon footprint associated with the operation of printing devices.

“Apart from digital equivalence, there will also be a consumerisation of IT, i.e., a trend of simplifying IT work and purchasing services rather than software. The lack of (qualified) employees will further intensity this trend.

“This volatile environment and growing recession will then force companies to give clear preference to pay-as-you-go models, which will allow them to respond in a more flexible fashion to the development of a real need for print/scan/copy. On the supply side there will be widespread reservations about such a model, but those who are able to offer such flexibility will possess a significant advantage.

“In general, it can be said that the number of printed pages will continue to decline. The number of printers and copiers will experience a smaller decline, though a decline nonetheless. The trends of IT digital equivalence and IT consumerisation will prevail, which in turn will increase IT spending to provide a fully hybrid office model.”

Steve Holmes, EMEA Regional Director & GM, PaperCut: “Arguably, the global energy crisis and economic challenges – not least those unravelling at home – have already set the template for at least the first quarters of 2023. On a more positive note, the agility born out of the pandemic period can play to its strengths once again as organisations navigate the turbulent times ahead.

Steve Holmes

“With respect to opportunities in 2023, I think we’ll see migration to the cloud gather momentum, bringing with it benefits to both resellers and customers. Cloud adoption is already rising sharply, and there’s now a clear distinction now between cloud-first and cloud only businesses. I believe that this will bring transformational opportunities to resellers as they shift their value-added offerings from more traditional services, to cloud-friendly ones. It is important they make this transition if they are to remain relevant, while it also opens up growth opportunities for them.

“I’m also encouraged to see that there is already a much more focused drive for sustainable solutions, especially as the eco-conscious next-generation, starts to enter the workforce. Resellers need to reflect on this now as they consider their future offerings and services. Equally, tech hardware, software manufacturers and service providers, must redouble their efforts to engineer or deliver solutions that have efficiency and sustainability at their core. The channel must also dance to the beat of the same drum and ensure that it is laser-focused on the cost, efficiency and sustainability benefits of solutions in discussions with their clients.

“There is no doubt that the start to 2023 will be stormy, but the print and IT industry is recognised for being ingenious in its ability to provide the right solutions at the right time; if we can all club together with a shared focus, vision and a sense of optimism, I think the industry and the customers it serves will come through the first half of 2023 stronger and more efficient. That bodes as well for businesses as it does the environment.”

Mark Ash, Chief Revenue Officer, Konica Minolta: “Undoubtedly 2022 has seen an impressive upswing in business activity after the challenges of the pandemic, but 2023 equally promises big opportunities for those in the IT and print industries who recognise what customers want and need and are prepared to evolve and grow to meet these demands.

Mark Ash,

“We have seen the world of data, IT, and print converge at an unprecedented rate to accommodate hybrid ways of working and there are great opportunities across the channel to expand business through cross-sell and upselling to existing customers as well as winning new business. This means an increased share of wallet, new revenues, and new recurring margins.

“The convergence of technologies means that customers need all parts of their IT, operations, and data flow to keep their business running, but many are struggling to achieve this in-house and are looking for expert partners to fill the gap. Figures show that 70 per cent of SMEs have tested outsourcing and 30 per cent want to increase this. At Konica Minolta for example, managed IT services and solutions now make up 20 per cent of our total business, with clear signs that 2023 will see this continue to grow rapidly as our IT partner network continues to expand and evolve to meet demand.

“Print providers are also in a great position to ‘add on’ IT services to their existing sales to bring new value to their customers. Print solutions need to be hosted and many customers (and indeed some IT providers) don’t want to deal with the intricacies of managing print and capture solutions. This puts print providers in an ideal position of delivering these services and the opportunity to cross-sell further IT services to already loyal customers.

“We will continue to see strong growth in professional print in 2023. Packaging, embellishment, personalisation, and labelling will continue to be vital, as customers look to transform their operations and to differentiate their offerings and communications through the digital noise.

“Whilst office print has been impacted in some sectors (largely through remote working), others have remained resilient and look set to continue growing in 2023 (such as education, where print is still heavily used alongside digital tools). There are big opportunities here to help customers rebalance their print fleets, to sell managed solutions that enable safe/ secure and reliable remote printing, and home office solutions that are well suited to support hybrid working needs.

“At Konica Minolta we are currently revamping and updating our partner programme to offer even more support to our partners at every stage of the customer journey, helping them to capitalise on the considerable opportunities on offer. We have invested in a new revised framework that provides additional support where required, a new portal and increased headcount to enable the comprehensive support our partners need in 2023 and beyond. The channel is, and will continue to be, an essential part of Konica Minolta’s business and we are dedicated to ensuring our partners continue to succeed and grow as markets continue to evolve.

“From a product/services perspective, we have an exciting pipeline of new offerings to share in 2023 including cloud print and data/document handling solutions, further enhancements to our IT offering, new professional/industrial print solutions, and an expanded home/ hybrid office range that will open up new opportunities for us and our partners.

“Additionally, to continue enhancing our rapidly expanding managed IT services offering in 2023 and beyond, we have invested in growing our team and recently appointed our new Head of IT Services, Russell Palmer, to oversee this exciting expansion. This will see fresh development in our cloud solutions, information management, and managed IT services, along with an additional focus on our intelligent video solutions offering, which is a key ingredient in the increasing digitalisation and convergence of workplace technologies.

“There will be big opportunities in 2023 but also challenges. For instance, the global chip supply issues will still need time to be resolved and the broader economic and cost of living challenges will continue to affect us all, in both our business and personal lives. However, we know our expert partners in the channel are highly robust and resourceful, and along with our unwavering commitment to delivering the best partner support, products, and services, we are excited to be supporting this vital part of the UK economy as it develops in 2023.”

Nicola De Blasi, CEO, MPS Monitor and Euroform: “The print and IT sector is nimble, dynamic and fast on its feet, so it will be interesting to observe how it adapts to the pressures we’re all facing from the global energy crisis, the chip and supply chain problems and of course the state of the global economy. Some of those challenges are a legacy of the pandemic, but of course some are more recent and unrelated. Whatever the triggers, the ripples run through device manufacturers through to software suppliers and, of course, the channel that does such a good job supporting its customers.

Nicola De Blasi,

“I think we’ll see the print and IT sector unite even more closely in order to really listen to the challenges their customers are facing over the next six months or so. Never before has it been more imperative to develop and sell customer-led solutions, as every investment has to be justified given that growth is expected to be minimal over the next few quarters. We’re also likely to see more consolidation during this period, which will help smaller firms that may have struggled otherwise; there certainly is strength in numbers, and sometimes consolidation protects customers and their investments, while opening the door to future growth and development thanks to access to greater resources. Equally, it’s important that we don’t let the economic backdrop obscure the other challenges that we face, like climate change. Amid all that we do, we should still be thinking about sustainability and efficiency as those are long-term, ongoing objectives.

“2023 will be a challenging time for sure, but I believe the innovation that we often see from the print and IT sector – as well as the channel – will help us weather this storm.”,

Stuart Sykes, Managing Director, Sharp UK: “The workplace has undergone somewhat of a revolution in recent years. In the past 12 months alone, businesses have had to navigate the challenges of a long-term mobile workforce, supply chain issues and rising operating costs. As businesses seek to streamline their offerings and optimise efficiencies, in 2023 we see an important evolution of the trends that have been gaining traction of late.

Stuart Sykes, Managing Director, Sharp Business Systems UK
Stuart Sykes,

Expanding and enhancing IT services. As technology becomes more complex and sophisticated, we are seeing small and medium businesses realising that IT isn’t a necessary evil, but a tool to harness their efficiencies, protect their business and deliver a competitive advantage. At Sharp, we found that the pandemic accelerated the diversification of the services offered by some of our partners. We expect to continue to see this change in attitude towards IT services and solutions continuing well into 2023. As a result, we see more businesses conducting open and honest audits to roadmap plans that enable them to better navigate future challenges.

Targeted cybersecurity threat prevention. However, this evolution of working has also seen an evolution of the threat landscape. Businesses are increasingly employing a wide range of internet-connected smart office devices that cybercriminals have, unfortunately, learned to compromise. Cybercriminals are, in fact, increasingly targeting endpoint devices – including printers – to plant malware, steal intellectual property, and launch espionage campaigns.

“MFPs can be used as an entry point into business networks when organisations unconsciously leave their MFP network connections vulnerable, allowing hackers to plant trojans and credential stealers or use the devices to spread malware throughout the network. End-users can also (intentionally or unintentionally) compromise MFPs by plugging in USB memory devices infected with malware.

“Businesses today are acutely aware of their exposure to potential cybersecurity risks. In 2023, we will see businesses taking steps to better educate their teams about how they can minimise their threat exposure when working from home, as well as ensuring office-based endpoints are more secure and fit for the future.

“This year, Sharp celebrated 50 years of print copier innovation. I’m proud to say that we are committed to this tradition of print innovation; we have recently partnered with global cybersecurity leader, Bitdefender, to integrate Bitdefender’s antimalware technology into our new range of Future Workplace A3 multifunction printers (MFPs).

Investment in better collaboration tools. The workforce today is more mobile than it has ever been before. Ensuring that team members have the tools they need to operate efficiently and securely from their respective locations has become the norm and expectation for businesses the world over.

“Many SMBs today use a mix of different video-conferencing platforms, all of which offer different user experiences. This can sometimes make it challenging to collaborate efficiently and operate smoothly. Findings from a Sharp survey of more than 6,000 office workers across the continent showed that just under half (47 per cent) found it confusing having to use various different video conferencing platforms, while 53 per cent said it was harder to stay focused during remote meetings.

“Enabling smarter working and secure collaboration enhances the office experience for team members and supports productivity.

“Hybrid working is here to stay. In 2023, we expect to see businesses continuing to think about how they can better support their employees through smarter, more cohesive and secure business collaboration tools. Investment in this area will cement functional remote and hybrid policies within organisations and take hybrid working to the next level.”

Steve Kendall-Smith, UK Managing Director, Lexmark: “2023 will see hybrid working become less of a new phenomenon and more of an accepted norm. It’s likely we’ll see conversations switch away from enabling remote working towards how we can make it work better. For the print sector this means better workflow management, security and connectivity.

Steve Kendall-Smith

“The switch to hybrid working has presented some huge challenges in security terms and enterprises have had to step up to protect systems and data. Furthermore, digitising workflows and improving remote collaboration, as well as correcting and boosting productivity around document printing will be continuing to be goals for organisations looking to improve their print strategy. Managed print services are likely to be an important tool in the box here and it’s also likely that we’ll see smaller and medium-sized businesses embrace cloud offerings in an effort to keep up. Lexmark’s MPS express offering this year reflects that shift, offering cloud-based and MPS print solutions to SMBs.

“We’re also likely to see a continuing drive towards reducing paper and improving sustainability, as businesses are placed under greater pressure to show progress towards some of the ambitious targets that have been set. The focus will need to be on communicating clearly to customers how they are benchmarking against objectives and improving sustainability throughout the print ecosystem. Concepts like the circular economy will become more important as organisations attempt to reduce more than just waste. Our recent project working with an EU funded project C-Servees has been aimed at building circular solutions for the print industry that can be adopted by all.”

James Stacey, Solution Consultant, ECI Software Solutions: “It’s been fascinating to see how technology has continued to transform the office supplies and managed print services sectors, with both industries never failing to showcase innovation. However, as we approach the end of 2022, businesses are really feeling the strain, and this has forced many to yet again review their processes and identify efficiency saving measures.

James Stacey

“ONS figures released earlier this year revealed that only eight per cent of workers in the UK planned on working from their place of employment on a permanent basis, with most employees taking advantage of their businesses remote working offering.

“A hybrid working model is by no means a new concept, and its popularity has continued to soar since 2019. However, with a far greater number of organisations now offering a work from home policy, the need for the office supplies and the MPS industries to adapt has become more crucial year-on-year. I’m sure that 2023 will be no different.

“I believe we will see more businesses implementing SaaS solutions instead of self-hosted systems, as this can have a significant impact on running costs. Not only does physical hardware, such as an on-site server, require labour and resources to manage, update and maintain, the initial cost of purchase can be significant. Physical hardware must also be regularly checked to ensure it remains adequate to support the systems it hosts. Rapid business growth often creates issues and leads to unexpected additional investment – a cost that many simply cannot afford in this current climate.

“Many companies are already implementing print management systems to help reduce waste and the costs associated with printer and copier usage, and I expect this will continue next year

“With data security such a hot topic, I believe we will see more and more businesses investing in technology that can protect their network and keep their information secure.”

Martin Fairman, Group Sales & Marketing Director, KYOCERA Document Solutions UK: “I’ve forecast and have already witnessed a mass migration to cloud-based solutions around the hardware. Cloud-native platforms such as Kyocera Cloud Print Scan (KCPS) showcase the advantages for resellers and end-users alike.

Martin Fairman

“We cannot ignore the more macro issues we face as a nation and an industry. A key pain point for us all is energy costs, which snowball to more medium-term concerns over climate change. Therefore, I predict a real shift in buyer behaviour towards energyconscious and sustainable purchasing, which often go hand in hand. Deloitte research has shown that 31 per cent of adults are pursuing reducing their carbon footprint by reducing their electric equipment usage and output, and this mindset is present in the workplace too.

“Fortunately, at Kyocera we are a carbon-neutral operation that delivers energy efficiency savings up to 70 per cent more than competitors with our TASKalfa 15000c devices. We are in a great position, and we know our partners feel the same.

“As a leader in the office device industry, I stand by the following statement: staff will migrate back to the office in 2023. Personally, I love being around people, conversing with colleagues, and visiting our customers. It’s why I entered the world of sales.

“As we leave the pandemic behind, I hear and feel the desire of our staff and customers alike to go back to the office. As more and more staff return, we predict the print/copy/scan/store/ retrieve world will kick back into action and allow us to come back future-ready.”

Phil Jones,MBE, Managing Director, Brother UK: “The future is undoubtedly hybrid. We need to be ready to support a business ecosystem that is becoming increasingly virtual and fundamentally cloud-first, subscription everything, and zero trust everywhere.

Phil Jones, MBE

“Some IT infrastructure will remain on office premises for good reason. But cloud adoption, especially for print, is growing fast. Research from IDC shows that almost two-thirds of large businesses will have cloud tech in place for their print fleets next year.

“Demand will grow for multifunction colour models connected to the cloud. This is where the market is heading and we all, vendors and resellers, need to be ready to deliver it.

“More businesses will want these devices on subscription. We know it’s what people prefer as individuals, and the trend for subscription, regardless of company size, will continue to transform how companies equip their employees.

“There has been a huge jump in the number of UK firms that want a managed print services contract. It’s a mature market now, and I expect to see more targeted products for small enterprise, like our PrintSmart Professional solution, in the year ahead.

“Employers’ responsibility for security has become even more complex. They need to consider the attack surface layer for their people at home, in co-working spaces, in offices, on their commute, and in the coffee shop where they’re working. They need to create a zero trust environment everywhere, and workflow and document capture will play a vital role in keeping information safe.

“But within all this movement, vendors and channel resellers must retain a clear focus on sustainability. Tech buyers now see supplier sustainability policies as a major factor in who they choose. Right across the value chain, we all need to be able to credibly stand forward and show that we’re doing the right thing, from our modern slavery policy to reducing carbon in final mile logistics.”

Dave Prezzano, Managing Director, HP Inc: “There are three key areas that will become even more influential for print and IT in 2023 – sustainability, hybrid work and cybersecurity.

Dave Prezzano

“Sustainability. We believe that print-centric businesses will accelerate their digital transformation in pursuit of improved sustainability over the next 12 months and beyond. This year’s Quocirca Sustainability Trends Report shows that reducing environmental impact will be the top priority for UK and US-based IT decision-makers by 2025.

“Customers are increasingly conscious of their environmental footprint, so prioritising sustainability is good for business, as well as being the right thing to do. An organisation’s success is now invariably tied to how well it empowers progress for the planet and its people. Those companies able to create and communicate standout environmental performance will gain a competitive edge.

“As such, 2023 will see a heightened focus on digital solutions designed to upgrade print sustainability – among them, cloud print management solutions, managed print services, and carbon footprint calculators. For example, HP recently launched the HP LaserJet E800/ E700 Managed series, our latest A3 printer range with sustainable features and options built in, from energy efficient design and recycled plastics to zero deforestation paper and paperbased packaging. We are also making it convenient and free to recycle HP IT hardware and supplies through HP Planet Partners.

“Beyond next year, I hope the print and IT sectors set and pursue long term goals in areas including the responsible sourcing of forest products, climate action, circular economy innovation, and health and safety – an agenda that we’re focused on building towards at HP. Our commitment to sustainable impact has already become a differentiator for our business, driving more than $3.5 billion in new sales.

“Our goal is to be the most sustainable and just technology company by 2030, and I predict many more companies in our sector will look to follow a similar journey.

“Hybrid work. When it comes to how we all get the job done in the year ahead, HP’s 2022 hybrid working study found that more than 50 per cent of staff are willing to come to the office when it’s worth doing so, such as when there’s a need to collaborate. Demand for managed print services is also going to increase, especially for small businesses.

“With the significant changes we have seen to productivity habits and work-life balance, staff rightly demand the flexibility to collaborate and create wherever they are, which makes the technology they can access and use every day more important than ever. Everyone needs solutions that equitably enable personal connection and meaningful contribution, wherever they are working from. Of course, the office remains an important part of the employee experience though, as staff still see it as the best place to collaborate with colleagues – because of the access it offers to more powerful technology and purpose-built facilities.

“Like well-equipped office spaces, printers will continue to be a vital feature of the workplace. Research from Morning Consult revealed that over 80 per cent of small businesses rely on printing to run their business, but 55 per cent do not have time to manage the technology. This creates more opportunities for managed print and digital services, as well as new workforce solutions in 2023.

“Cybersecurity. We will see increasing demand for built-in and automated cybersecurity defences – especially for endpoints, as this is such a vital enabler of productivity in a hybrid world. As distributed workforces can make enterprise security more complicated and create new vulnerabilities – with people using multiple devices and connections in different locations, fortifying endpoint security will remain top of the agenda for ITDMs. While printers are among the biggest vulnerabilities in shared office spaces, they are often overlooked; our HP Wolf Security Report found that 45 per cent of ITDMs have seen evidence of compromised printers being used as an attack point in their organisation.

“Channel partners will do well in 2023 to offer secure endpoints and solutions that help accelerate digital transformation initiatives, while simultaneously driving improved employee security and productivity. We foresee IT leaders continuing to invest in security over the next 12 months as the shift and adaption to hybrid work continues.

Products that offer seamless built-in protection at the device level, such as HP Wolf Enterprise Security, will help meet ITDM expectations and demands.

“With that said, businesses must realise the cyber threats they will face over the next 12 months are not just problems for the IT and procurement departments. Mitigating these risks takes company-wide effort and must be supported at the highest levels of the organisation. Cybersecurity is a boardlevel problem that requires board-level interventions, with staff throughout the company educated and empowered to play their part.

“All in all, despite the economic pressures facing so many UK businesses, including in the print and IT sectors, there remain significant opportunities for growth. For those firms that can keep progressing their sustainability efforts, give people the tools and flexibility they need to contribute, and raise their security resiliency to keep endpoints protected, the future is still very bright.”