When talking about the print industry, the word disruption is now bandied about almost as much as other commonly used terms and phrases. As digital transformation accelerates across all industries and sectors PrintIT Reseller asked this month’s panel to consider to what extent the DX economy is disrupting the print industry and whether they view it as a threat or an opportunity
PrintIT Reseller: Is digitisation a real threat to the print industry?
Mark Bailey, Managing Director, EBM Managed Services: “Not necessarily. It just means we need to think differently. It may be that the paperless office is the office of the future, but we don’t see it yet. In EBM’s experience, clients are looking to print more efficiently but not eradicate it all together. In this scenario, digitisation can be an opportunity for growth – It’s not unreasonable to suggest bundling document management solutions so that digital and hard copy can go hand-in-hand.”
Martyn Williams, Technical Director, Pinnacle Document Solutions: “Digitisation is a fundamental shift that’s changing how organisations operate internally and interact with their customers, suppliers and partners. Businesses converting paper processes to digital helps to reduce costs, increase efficiency and delivers faster results and service. Linking solutions within the digitisation process helps stabilise the hard shift and support the journey. Print has evolved from a paper hardcopy, into an electronic workflow and process.”
Martin Randall, Sales and Marketing Director, Vision: “The ‘paperless office’ is a threat that’s been talked about since I’ve been in this industry (18 years!) so whilst I think the answer is probably ‘yes’, it certainly isn’t an immediate threat. Maybe the impact will be more prevalent when the ‘gen Zs’ are dominating the boardroom.”
Nigel Allen, Marketing Director, ASL Group: “The threat of digitisation is not new. In fact, Business Week published an article that referred to the ‘paperless office’ in 1975. At the time it was office automation – fuelled by the expected growth of personal computers – behind the predicted demise of print.
“Despite the pervasive spread of personal computers, the worldwide use of paper in business actually doubled from 1980 to 2000. While the PC became popular, improvements in printers and photocopiers made it easier to print the documents that people sent to each other electronically.
“Today’s digitisation processes are far more sophisticated than yesterday’s office automation systems and the use of paper has declined since 2000. There has been a generational shift in that period and people generally don’t print documents unnecessarily.
“However, Quocirca’s Global Print 2025 survey shows that, through to 2025, 64 per cent of businesses believe printing will continue to be important to their daily lives. Now there is more interest in the convergence between print and digital technologies, through integrated document workflows, for example. While print volumes may decline, businesses are interested in smarter use of print such as a focus on print security and cloud-based managed print services. Customers are looking to digital transformation initiatives to improve productivity and remove cost from their operations. Smart print businesses are evolving their propositions so that continued digitisation becomes an opportunity rather than a threat.”
Mark Ash, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Altodigital: “If your business is solely based on putting marks to paper, then yes, it is a threat. Print doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it’s important that you complement your core offering, like Altodigital, with complementary products and services. Paper has often been seen as a digital disrupter, however managed correctly with digitisation it will continue to be an important part of our business and our clients.”
James Pittick, Director of B2B Indirect Sales, Canon UK: “Digitisation presents a challenge for the traditional print business, however, for the smart partner this evolution presents a great opportunity for embracing change. Digitisation should be viewed not as an existential threat but as a chance to look at diversifying portfolios and examining opportunities for growth. Digitisation is only a real threat if a business is unwilling to adapt.”
Carlo Longhi, Director and General Manager, Indirect Channels UK and Ireland, Xerox: “Technological change is accelerating, with new digital platforms and devices emerging every day. Shifts within e-commerce platforms are fundamentally changing the ways in which suppliers and customers manage their business operations.
“Digitisation is responsible for moving business operations from an analogue manual process to an online automated service, which includes a move away from print to digital documents. Yet despite the workplace becoming increasingly digitised, companies still require a sophisticated print infrastructure. Within the SMB space, the growing trend for companies is to outsource their print infrastructure to a third-party managed print service under a SaaS business model. Whilst this service was previously only available for corporate and large enterprise organisations, this now gives SMBs access to a smarter print environment at less cost and minimum print devices.
“The demand for print has reduced and will no doubt continue to do so as companies endorse digitisation. In order to meet market demand and the reduction in print, Xerox introduced the intelligent business connected range of Altalink and VersaLink multifunctional devices. Technologies like this map back to workplace changes, allowing employees to manage their print processes flexibly and remotely.”
Aaron Hopkinson, Product and Solution Manager, Brother UK: “The paperless office is a much talked about concept. But in reality, becoming fully paperless has proven to be a very difficult proposition for many businesses as they struggle to reduce print volumes.
“We researched 800 SME managers and employees and found that although 61 per cent of the respondents are striving to reduce paper consumption, 41 per cent said their business prints more now than it did two years ago. Markedly, almost three quarters (71 per cent) claimed that printing documents increases their efficiency at work.
“It’s clear that paper, ink and toner will remain essential to everyday office life. But the desire to reduce consumption presents a significant opportunity for the print industry to help businesses become ‘paper-lite’, by providing products and services that help them be smarter about how they print and the amount of paper they use. There will also be an increased demand for more sophisticated document capture and management solutions, which will create new opportunities to supply integrated scanners, mobile technology, cloud storage and file-sharing platforms.”
Joe Doyle, Group Marketing Director, Kyocera Document Solutions UK: “Digitisation certainly presents some challenges for the print industry, but it’s as much as an opportunity as it is a threat. What’s clear to us is that organisations are looking to share, store and manage their information in new ways and are looking to digital technologies to help them make better sense of their data, improve collaboration and enable more flexible ways of working. However, printers aren’t going anywhere soon. Five years ago, there was a lot of discussion about the paperless office but, while many organisations have started digitising workflows and automating processes, print will be important for the running of most organisations for some time to come.
“That said, organisations want to get smarter about how they print, and this comes at the same time when the margins in print are getting tighter, so those resellers that can’t adapt and facilitate this will be having a hard time.
“Digitisation means that print resellers can’t expect to be successful managing their businesses and client relationships the same way they always have done. To create new revenue streams, they need to get closer to their customers and expand their service and support capabilities, moving into things like cloud, content services, unified communications, and supported by robust and experienced professional services. If they can increase the number of services they offer, resellers can enable their customers to achieve competitive advantage and make relationships with them stickier while increasing walletshare in the process – and here lies the opportunity.
“However, this shift isn’t always easy and takes traditional print resellers into areas they’re not necessarily comfortable in. For example, selling cloud and services is fundamentally different to selling products and resellers often need to redefine their processes, SLAs, remuneration packages, and sales skills to make a success of them. It’s therefore critical that they get the right partners in place that understand the ongoing transformation of the print market and can offer the support structures they need to set them up to succeed.”
James Turner, Regional Sales Manager, Y Soft: “Digitisation is the result of customers’ needs to improve processes for increased productivity while also taking advantage of technology to reduce the reliance on paper as part of sustainability initiatives. Digital transformation projects are being implemented across businesses of all sizes and in all sectors and the print industry has an opportunity to become valuable partners by delivering advanced technology to meet those needs. Many organisations have considered going paperless but have quickly realised that this is not realistic, with the need to interact with outside organisations via paper and the human factor of people wanting to print documents for reading later or proof reading.
“Organisations are therefore more frequently moving to the concept of a paper-light office, which can be achieved through the implementation of digital document workflows. Instead of eliminating paper altogether, they are automating the repetitive paper-based processes whilst still allowing for ad-hoc printing. This combined approach does not cause a threat to the print industry as it allows for digitisation, as well as supporting the need to print – something that isn’t going anywhere, with the majority (64 per cent) of business users expecting printing to still be important by 2025.”
Glenn Kershaw, Marketing Manager, DSales: “The paperless office has been predicted for at least 40 years but paper documents are still a feature on most desks. However, the amount of documents being printed and copied is certainly in decline. That is why Develop dealerships focus on supplying document workflow management solutions and not simply devices.”
PrintIT Reseller: How have you transformed your offer to meet customers’ needs in the digital world?
Mark Bailey: “EBM has found that the digitisation trend as it is has led to three things: 1) devices integrated to client networks, and related security issues; 2) more focus on scanning capabilities and 3) more interest in print software to reduce waste, improve security and enable flexible working arrangements (e.g. remote/cloud printing).”
Martyn Williams: “Working with an industry pioneer like Xerox, who provides blue chip companies with their digitisation processes, enables us as a Xerox Platinum partner to deliver the same processes within our customers. Working with customers and supplying them industrial benchmark solutions, enables us to transform with the customer on their journey. Xerox printers or as they are called these days “Work Place Assistants”, help deliver this transformation for the customer.”
Martin Randall: “We have, for some time now, striven to enhance our digital transformation offering via capture workflow and content management services. The team are constantly evaluating additional products and services to ensure that we are utilising the very latest technology, maximising the value our proposition delivers.”
Nigel Allen: “Over recent years we have broadened our focus from purely a print specialist to enabling smarter working through digital transformation. We’ve expanded our reach beyond providing managed print services to embrace unified communications, software, IT and production print solutions to improve the service we provide our national customers.
“We work with customers to understand their managed service needs by conducting a thorough assessment of their infrastructure. We manage and optimise processes to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve productivity to drive better business performance.”
Mark Ash: “Put simply we deliver on what the customer needs. As the largest independent managed service provider we are not forced to deliver a print or proprietary solution that doesn’t fit the client’s needs. We enable paper to be included within digital workflows and utilise our experience in telecoms, AV and managed IT services to seamlessly connect the workplace.”
James Pittick: “We have looked to adapt and evolve, closely monitoring the latest office demands, such as digitisation and the transition to the cloud and we have amended our proposition accordingly. We have examined the needs of the digital customer and updated our offering; consolidating print management, document management and workflow management into a fully managed print service. We also continually seek to evolve and enhance our core office technology, as it becomes a central document workflow hub for the office environment.
“Customers are also increasingly looking for improved connectivity. Partners should look to capitalise on this by adding cloud services and SaaS to their solutions. Flexibility is also important, a fast digital environment is a fast moving one, so Canon partners can now access uniFLOW as a subscription offering, giving partners greater flexibility on delivering to their customers. We work closely with our partners’ sales teams, helping to identify emerging opportunities.
“In order to best support partners in this market we examined our partner proposition and refreshed it, adjusting the levels of accreditation and support to best align the programme with the current sales environment. This ensures clarity, helping to support partners, and enabling them to meet their customers’ digital demands. Recently we have developed a ‘Canon Partner Hub’. This is a resource that supports partners in learning and development, underpinning Canon’s commitment to training.”
Carlo Longhi: “Xerox has transformed the traditional multifunctional device into an intelligent business solution, which seamlessly integrates with today’s digitised workplace. This technology offers automated integration into the existing IT infrastructure of businesses, which may be on-premise or in the cloud. What’s more, Xerox now offers direct business connectivity, such as direct connectivity to Salesforce, Concur and Sharepoint.
“To capitalise on the digital market and respond to the growing trend towards global mobile working, Xerox now offers its customers automated document workflow, translation of documents into a choice of 50 different languages, audio digital translation and document redaction. In fact, as security has propelled to the top of the business agenda, the latest range of Xerox devices also includes full secure mobile access to documents, as well as GDPR compliance.
“Companies increasingly seek the flexibility and agility needed to compete in the digital age, leading Xerox to develop a Docushare Flex System, which provides customers with a full document life cycle management system based in the cloud.
“Such cloud technology, with its increased storage capabilities, has bought with it an abundance of data. Yet data in the digital world is not valuable in and of itself. The key to unlocking value is by uncovering actionable insights through analytics. Xerox’s managed document service products includes a range of analytical service, which allows Xerox to deliver 100 per cent accurate user and device print usage reports. With our recently launched Rapid Assessment Tool, our partners can present their customers with reports based on captured data, which includes trends, device floor plans and new device recommendations.”
Aaron Hopkinson: “Our offering is perfectly set up to help partners capitalise on the demand for integrated print and scan solutions and help their customers reduce their paper use.
“The growing sophistication of document capture solutions is central to enabling firms to become ‘paper-lite’. Our scan devices, for example, can process up to 6,000 pages a day directly to email and cloud services, enabling companies to simply integrate documents into workflows and help them boost efficiency.
“Increasing digitisation also presents other opportunities through subscription based service solutions, such as managed print services. By enabling businesses to have greater visibility of their printer usage by implementing a joined-up, multi-site strategy, we’re helping our customers identify opportunities to continually optimise their print infrastructure.”
Joe Doyle: “We sensed this shift over a decade ago and have been laying the foundations to support the digital world ever since. We needed to ensure that Kyocera, our partners and our customers can stay ahead of the curve. We’ve invested heavily in our print hardware and software solutions to provide industry-leading levels of efficiency and innovation. Our objective was to help customers get smarter about how they manage their print estates and better integrate them with other digital technologies.
“Print has become just one part of our business and, as we embrace digital transformation, we’ve significantly broadened our portfolio of services and solutions. We launched our Content Services division last year, with solutions that can analyse, improve and automate key business processes, helping to increase control and visibility, as well as improve security and compliance.
“We’ve also branched out into cloud, unified communications and wider ICT services like security and infrastructure, and have established partnerships with some of the biggest players in the industry. In doing so, we’ve been able to help our network of resellers embrace the brave new world of digital services, better support their customers, and take a larger share of the customer wallet.”
James Turner: “Key to ensuring print keeps up with the pace of technological innovation lies in the development of next-generation print management software, which is optimised to deal with the changing nature of the modern office. We have this at the front of mind in everything we do to ensure that we’re delivering a solution that has the automation of manual processes, streamlined infrastructure management and security in mind, to keep print management resilient, flexible and adaptable in the midst of ongoing digital transformation.
“YSoft SafeQ’s automated scan workflows make the transition from paper to digital a simple one both for users and administrators. Organisations have a secure way to lessen their use of paper and eliminate human errors associated with paper processing or scan to email.
“YSoft SafeQ supports automated digital document delivery to cloud or on-premise systems including file servers, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft OneDrive for Business, Dropbox Business, Dropbox Enterprise and HPE Records Manager. Using barcode recognition or highlighting relevant text will also enable the document to define the correct parameters, speeding up the efficient process even further. Furthermore, we offer print management and document workflow from a single supplier, with a single SLA – something customers are calling out for more and more so that they can use multiple solutions from a trusted supplier.”
Glenn Kershaw: “Because workflow solutions that streamline document processing are now a major factor in MFP sales, Develop has produced its own unique range of document management software (DMS) solutions. These include the award winning store+find, an electronic archiving solution, convert+share for document workflows and an i-Option device add-on which provides users with an inexpensive pullprinting solution.
“Using store+find, documents can be scanned, archived and retrieved easily and then worked upon, providing workflows and audit trails to make the solution an excellent DMS application for Develop ineo MFDs with scanning functionality. The latest version provides new approval, follow-up and information workflows that can make document management more efficient.
“convert+share enables users to quickly and efficiently convert scanned documents into a variety of files and easily automate processes, eliminating manual document processes and allowing original documents to be scanned from a Develop MFP and automatically converted to many different file types. The documents can then be sent straight from the devices to a number of destinations. The latest version of convert+share includes any cloud-based archiving system. For example .docx documents can be scanned and sent directly from the MFP to Windows applications such as email, Google Docs, Evernote or sent to Microsoft SharePoint.
“With the growth of workflow solutions and electronic transfer of documents, scanning has become as important a function as copying and printing. Develop ineo MFPS offer high quality scanning with large capacity document feeders and several devices in the range also feature dual scan functionality which can scan both sides of an original document in a single pass, for high speed throughput.
“Digitisation presents a challenge, but Develop dealers are meeting this challenge with innovative DMS solutions that make ineo multifunctionals document processing hubs and not simply copiers-printers.”