Cloud services are re-writing the rule book when it comes to business operations and customer expectations. Managing IT infrastructure in the cloud make it easier for organisations to flex and scale, reduces costs, and increases employee efficiency and flexibility. For vendors, cloud services offer recurring revenue streams and increased customer stickiness
The pandemic saw an increased appetite for SaaS models as more organisations moved mission-critical workloads from on-premise to the cloud. Print has historically been lagging behind as customers migrate core IT infrastructure to the cloud, but the tide seems to be changing. 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.
PrintIT Reseller: Quocirca says that MPS providers should invest in their cloud offering, skills and consulting service and be proactive about migrating their current customer base to the cloud. Do you agree and to what extent do you see the move to cloud-based services as a major growth area for the print channel?
Adam Bishop, Chief Revenue Officer, EveryonePrint:
“Cloud is the next big wave of change for our industry. It represents perhaps the last time many customers will think seriously about their print estate. The early adopters moved back in 2017 when many of the offerings weren’t mature. Now though, every week we’re seeing a new blue chip company looking to explore their options for a migration, and in many cases they’re articulating a multi-year path to move to a true public cloud offering.
“These customers want to ‘set it and forget it’. If they can build an infrastructure in the cloud, and effectively avoid most/all of the headache that comes from running print, then it’s a great solution for them. Assuming that they can get the right system, support, availability and security – all of which are improving month on month as service providers continuously update and upgrade the underlying platform – then why would they change again? In some cases the customer’s hardware will need upgrading in order to support the latest security or cloud enabled platforms – which represents a compelling reason for traditional vendors to embrace the cloud and capitalise on this opportunity.
“We have formed several global and pan-European partnerships with OEMs over the past twelve months, a move that signals the shift to the cloud and the importance of having a flexible offer to support customers on their cloud journey.”
Hugo Marqvorsen, Co-founder & Sales Director, Printix:
“Printix has seen rapid adoption of cloud over the past year, due to the pandemic, and I think that is a huge opportunity for the print channel.
“Before the pandemic, on average, 74 per cent of all users were printing regularly. During the pandemic, this figure dropped drastically. Now we see it ramping up again. Now, however, there is a cloud-first expectation. Organisations are also looking at how to optimise workflows, and how to remove paper from a workflow. “
The print industry is changing. And I do not think we will enter at the same level as before. This includes the purchase of new printers, companies wanting to ‘wait and see’ what the impact of a cloud transformation brings and what the future printing need is, for example, how many users per device are needed.
“Five years ago, Printix had about 15 users per device in an enterprise setting, now we see 25 users, on average, per device. I expect that number to continue to increase. I see a trend for the volume of devices to go down with the volume in printing also decreasing, as customers are transforming to cloud; however, what is a constant is that users still need to print.”
Christoph Hammer, Senior Vice President Cloud Services, ThinPrint:
“Yes, absolutely. Quocirca also states that service providers covering more than just one or a few areas are the preferred choice of customers. With a cloud-based print service, MPS providers can extend their service easily and include their customers’ users’ devices. Being able to truly handle ‘everything printing’ including the support of all user devices a customer has now as well as in the future, and not being limited to a specific printer vendor is a powerful message that sets the vendor apart from competitors.
“One could argue that this can also be achieved without cloud printing services but in most cases the complexity of supporting ever changing individual endpoints as well as increasing tightening of access to customers’ environments, makes this a less attractive business proposition. When looking at the print channel, we should not forget the opportunity that arises for other managed service providers. Cloud print services makes it attractive for MSPs to enhance their service offering and including traditional MPS services.”
Kerry Rush, Product Manager, Sharp UK:
“Absolutely – cloud is the future, so we need to have the people and skills in place to allow us to aid with the migration. From a customers’ perspective, especially for SMBs, the move to cloud can be a daunting thought with fears over costs, implementation and impact on the business. Sharp has the solutions and expertise to be a technology partner for our customers to guide and support them through this transition.”
David Warrington, Client Services Director, Office Fox:
“We are starting to see more requests to offer some kind of cloud-based service to clients, and yes it will be a growth area as it goes hand in hand with the new more agile workplace.
“It has a double impact with workers wanting to be more flexible in and out of the workplace and companies needing to make sure they can do so in a cost-effective and more environmentallyfriendly way. Utilising cloud-based printing services means drivers and compatibility issues are no longer a concern, which in turns lowers the burden on help desk and IT staff. It also allows workers to benefit from BYOD making the switch between working from home and the office much more seamless.”
Steve Holmes, EMEA Regional Director, PaperCut:
“With the emergence of cloud services as a cost-effective alternative to on-premises hardware in the print management space, a growing number of businesses are transitioning to cloudbased print management solutions. Cloud services can potentially enhance security, scalability, and mobility. Print management is undoubtedly a slice of that pie.
Furthermore, cloud opens the door for a flexible, resilient, and reliable alternative to traditional data centre services. It offers room to add on and scale-up as well as a reduced print spend, increased ROI and a lower IT team burden.
“While that’s all good news, there’s another side to the debate though that needs to be considered. When it comes to migrating existing customers to cloud print management, MSPs need to be mindful of what their customers may be giving up. Put simply, cloud print management solutions – including PaperCut Hive – are not as featurerich as their on-premises counterparts; not yet, anyway. That’s the nature of technical development – it will take time for cloud print management to reach parity with traditional solutions. “Therefore, it’s more important than ever for MSPs to provide the right advice for what each business needs. If their customer is only using basic print management features such as secure print release and find-me printing, they’re prime candidates for cloud migration. Of course once parity is reached, all bets are off! It’s a trade-off between flexibility and low touch versus full capability/ functionality that has been built over many years.”
Sajan Shivshanker, Chief Operating Officer, Aura:
“I would agree that it’s important to invest in cloud offerings and be proactive about helping customers migrate to the cloud. Over the past few years, our specialist consultants have worked with customers to reduce on-premise infrastructure to help increase agility, enhance security and sustainability.
“Cloud-based services have been, and will continue to be an area of growth. We have all seen organisations such as Adobe and Microsoft moving products into the cloud (Office 365 back in 2011 and Creative Cloud in 2013) and adopting a subscription-based model, while others like Google only having cloud-based products. Print will be no different and with the release of cloud-based Universal Print drivers, these organisations are now offering a ready-made print infrastructure to make the transition to the cloud even easier. However, all customers have slightly different requirements, so we don’t take ‘a one size fits all’ approach, there are different types of cloud-based MPS solutions, so it’s important to create true depth of understanding to deliver value to customers.”
Tony Wills, Country Director, Canon UK & Ireland:
“In many ways, the pandemic has accelerated the move to cloudbased services within the print channel. Flexibility and scalability, combined with increased security and reduced costs, have all been listed as important benefits that can help companies transition effectively to a hybrid working model.
“However, it’s also important to remember that printing is only one part of the cloud proposition with input management including document digitisation and scanning, all sitting comfortably within the cloud environment. As a result, MPS providers looking to invest in their agile working proposition must also carefully consider their overall cloud strategy.
“Once a supplier has built its cloud offering, it is important for the MPS provider to invest in staff training – thereby ensuring their employees can confidently support customers with the most suitable solutions for their business, including any future needs.”
Mark Bailey, Managing Director, EBM Managed Services:
“I do agree, but only to a certain extent. On paper, cloudbased services seem to be the way to go, given that flexible working arrangements will likely continue beyond the pandemic. All B2B suppliers will need the ability to deliver flexible solutions to grow, given the paramount importance of remote connectivity. It would be naive not to prepare. That being said, at EBM we have yet to see any great shift away from the traditional model. Cloud printing is already a part of EBM’s MPS offering and there has been little difference in uptake. Whether that will change remains to be seen.”
Neil Sawyer, Director of Channel & Partner Alliances, HP Inc:
“The pandemic dramatically accelerated trends around digitisation and workplace services. We’re encouraged to see customers embracing these trends as they shift to hybrid work models. We absolutely see the move to cloud-based services as a major growth area for the channel. HP research has shown that up to 77 per cent of end-users prefer a hybrid work model; yet 77 per cent of ITDMs believe more remote work means more security vulnerability.
“The print channel has a unique opportunity to help customers transition to the cloud while mitigating the emerging security risks. With secure, managed turnkey subscription services for mobile or hybrid workers, channel partners can offer customers the flexibility to scale based on changing needs while also bundling software with their services, enabling high margin and long-term growth.”
Steve Kendall-Smith, Managing Director of UK & Ireland, Lexmark:
“It’s critical for document management and MPS providers to evolve to meet the needs of today’s customers. In terms of the bigger IoT picture, cloud migration is a key stepping stone for the print channel because it allows unprecedented flexibility for fleet management. Customers can have their printers configured remotely and keep them updated with the latest firmware, especially security patches, all via cloud. It’s also a great solution when it comes to data collection asset management and certain service interactions.
“Plus, in the wake of the pandemic, it removes many interactions that would have otherwise been affected in person. Additionally, touchless print features meaning less contact with workplace surfaces – which has been more critical than ever. We know from IDC that currently one-third of companies with fewer than 500 employees have adopted structured print and document management policies supported by cloud-based software – making this technology a significant area of growth.”
Aaron Anderson, Head of Marketing, KYOCERA Document Solutions:
“The era of the traditional managed print service provider is over. The ongoing impact of the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and the move to the cloud, as it offers organisations a way to overcome the multitude of new challenges. Kyocera is focused on offering comprehensive cloud-based IT services to help build smarter workplaces for today’s hybrid workforce. This will include key areas such as IT support and managed services, security, infrastructure, connectivity and unified communications.
“The scalability of the cloud allows us to offer MPS to our customers in a way that is extremely flexible and sustainable. This is critical for reducing business costs, and these key features will be integral in supporting collaborative hybrid working practices as they evolve in the future. We would certainly agree with Quocirca, as there are many great benefits that can be gained by successfully migrating to the cloud, including improved operational resilience, efficiency and agility. The cloud will unify the print channel through its ability to drive innovation and it will be a major growth area for businesses and end-users.
“At Kyocera we have launched three cloud print solutions in the last year, and we are dedicated to working closely with all our MPS partners to help them deliver our new range of content services (content management, automated workflow processes and workflow collaboration). Our objective was to harness the enormous potential of digital transformation so we could meet the new demands of our customers and we have been working towards this goal ever since. We have now evolved into a comprehensive IT services provider that offers support and strategic advice in the implementation of hybrid workspaces, from hardware and software to optimising work processes. We believe that offering customers a fully integrated cloud service that includes all IT, print and document processes will be the only viable strategy for MPS providers to achieve success and long-term growth in 2021.”