2018 Print Predictions
PrintIT Reseller asked a panel of channel vendors to consider what 2018 holds for the print sector
Stephen Martin, Business Unit Manager for Print and Supplies, Tech Data UK “We see security being a very big area in print over the next year. With GDPR coming in, there is heightened awareness of the need to secure at every point on the network and while everyone focuses on endpoints like notebooks and tablets, the increasing sophistication and easy connectivity of printers and MFPs have made them a potential point of entry for hackers.
“Offering devices with enhanced security is a good way to value and up-sell, and it can also lead to conversations about remote monitoring and management. Most organisations will happily hand over the responsibility for maintaining print devices to a trusted partner now and that’s a strong area of growth that is also being aided by the enhanced connectivity of printers and MFPs.
“Printers and scanners are still part of the core equipment every offce needs. While there is a lot of talk about paperless processes, we still see strong shipments to enterprise, public sector, SMB and consumers. And if you can capture the consumables business as well, it can be an important contributor to your overall revenues.”
Jamie Brothwell, General Manager Print Division, Exertis
“Contractual print agreements are becoming more commonplace within the IT channel. Home users and SMBs are being increasingly targeted to sign up for automatic ink replenishment programs where software measures ink levels and automatically ships a replenishment based on a pre-arranged agreement.
“Colour laser and especially multifunction with higher print speeds will continue to be more popular at the demise of mono. Shift from single to multifunction will also continue. ASPs likely to fall for colour MFPs which will boost sales. Business Inkjet will continue to grow. We are also seeing good growth in the OA space from Epson with their RIPS proposition.
“Print management software will continue to be a focus for enterprises looking to reduce their print costs and track usage. Ensuring print security will also continue to be a focus particularly for those organisations that hold sensitive information or to prevent malicious copying of documents by unauthorised personnel.
“Document management will also become crucial as more people focus on cloud storage and the implications of the GDPR become more apparent to organisations in relation to their obligations around document and print management. Companies will need to be vigilant to prevent sensitive data from being printed either deliberately or by mistake by an employee. Creating secure locations, granting appropriate permissions and triggering security alerts will need to be part of their document management strategy in addition to a documented process surrounding their printing processes.”
Bob Davies, Commercial Director, Integra Business Solutions
“In 2018, there are four key trends that will prevail. The first is the continued growth of multi-year, contracted managed print solutions which will have the knock-on effect of placing further pressure on traditional transactional sales of consumables. This trend will also probably result in growth in the associated OEM branded consumables as a percentage of the total market.
”With high-profle data breaches continuing to hit the headlines, the real threat of cyber-attacks as well as the forthcoming GDPR among other things, print document security will become even more important, particularly as the average number of users per device continues to increase.
“The industry has seen an unprecedented number of mergers and acquisitions and there will undoubtedly be further industry consolidation including hardware and supplies manufacturers.
“3D printer sales will continue to grow although the application is likely to remain rather niche in the consumer sector. The real growth will likely come from industrial systems where there are massive 3D print installations printing manufacturing prototypes – especially in the healthcare, aerospace, automotive industries.”
Derek Jones, Managing Director, Synaxon UK
“Next year will be all about managed services for the channel. We’ve already seen a significant shift in this direction over the last 18 months and that’s going to accelerate signifcantly over the next few months. End-user customers are catching on to the idea that they can pay for an expert to monitor and manage their IT and print – and take all that hassle off their hands.
“We have had a fantastic response to the launch of our new SynMSP membership category, which is especially designed for MSPs and our partnership with Autotask in this area means we are ready to provide any technology reseller with a simple way to automate and manage their services propositions. We’d expect to see quite a few of our members convert to the SynMSP membership now and more resellers who are moving towards managed services joining us as a result of this programme.”
Matt Goodall, Service Director, Office Evolution
“2017 has been a strange year. More and more businesses are being stretched – with both budgets and staff levels being cut. Increasingly, many are putting loyalty, service and quality to one side and making decisions based on price instead.
“So where will this lead in 2018? Well I’m pretty sure that the likelihood is that lots of copier dealers that are here now, won’t be around at the end of 2018.
“The obvious reason for this is that prices cannot continue to fall, because this impacts on the quality and service that customers want and need. Somewhere along the line something is going to have to give. The likely outcome is that smaller dealers that don’t have a good sized MIF will lose customers and continuing to trade won’t be viable as they lose out to direct operations and the nationals, or are absorbed by the very same.
“That sounds all doom and gloom but it’s not. The industry has always been pushed and dealers have always been absorbed and renamed, you only have to look at Alco, Danka etc. in the 90s.
“As always, when budgets are pushed some people panic and they make cuts in the wrong areas. Office Evolution recently retained a very sizeable academy school and increased the machine placements there. The overriding deciding factor was quality of service and response time, having dealt directly with a manufacturer previously, the school had experienced long delays in getting supplies and segregated teams that couldn’t attend to all faults as they worked on different segment products. So hold on to that hope that quality and service always shines through and not every customer is focused on just the price.
“The Brexit deal is bound to affect trade. People are already worried that a lack of any workable trade deal will leave the UK ﬂoundering, and imported goods as all copiers are, will become more expensive. But here is the thing, we are in one of the most sustainable trades out there, during the last recession when companies and individuals were going out of business, solicitors and insolvency frms massively increased their use of printers and copiers. Schools maintain their use almost without change, and machines that came back from companies that had ceased trading, provided low cost machine sales for new start-ups. The paperless office that has been promised for 30 years now is still not here and seems some distance away still.
“GDPR is without doubt going to provide opportunities for the industry – the more stringent requirement to secure data, encrypt drives, and certifcation of security levels will provide a revenue stream. Document management software for secure storage, retrieval and modifcation will also increase sales, tie this in with copy control software like Papercut that traces the who, what and when, of document printing and the MFP becomes a part of a far bigger picture.
“The grey market is going to be huge, we have seen such a change in 2017 from aftermarket suppliers providing just aftermarket alternatives. Many now offer original manufacturer products at vastly reduced prices, meaning that stated yields are achieved, no risk of incompatibility is experienced and overheads are reduced. Are we going to see the grey market starting to offer hardware in numbers? And if we do, what will that mean to suppliers?
“To summarise, we need to be ﬂexible in our approach, we need to ensure we have our own costs under control and our options need to be open. 2018 is going to be a year of changes. We have already set our 24-month plan in motion, we know where we want and need to be, what we are and are not willing to change. We are confident that 2018 will be another growth year for Office Evolution.”
Colin Griffn, Managing Director, Blackbox Solutions
“Data and document security will be important areas for growth during 2018. With the impending introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations in May, businesses will be required to ensure that their security is robust in order to avoid costly fnes – not to mention reputational damage. While this will see increased expenditure on IT security infrastructure – in the form of improved frewalls and other software security measures – printer ﬂeets also offer cyber criminals a back door to sensitive data and new protocols will need to be introduced.
“Document security extends beyond the digital realm, as a breach can be as simple as leaving a document unattended on a printer. We’ll see businesses investing in improved procedures to protect documents and ensure they are collected by the right person. Solutions include devices with document control, such as having employees swipe their ID badge, or enter a username and password, in order to retrieve sensitive documents from a printer.
“Advances in biometric authentication, using fngerprint scans to release print jobs, also offer considerable time and security advantages, ensuring printed documents don’t get into the wrong hands.
“Other major trends affecting the offce printer industry will include the continued shifts toward multifunction printers and inkjet technology, and heightened competition in the A3 market. We expect MFPs to continue to expand their market share over the coming years, as businesses pursue cost effciencies. The shift to MFPs also means that managed print services will become increasingly viable for SMEs, creating major new opportunities for resellers.
“The market for A3 devices will also see increased competition as HP aims to disrupt the market with new A3 offerings based on its PageWide technology, following its acquisition of Samsung’s print arm.”
Adam Gibbons, Group Managing Director, Xeretec
“2018 is set to keep businesses of all sizes on their toes, dealing with challenging, broad issues that range from Brexit to GDPR. The latter, in particular, will have a direct impact on the print environment, and we’re already having discussions with our customers on how best to adapt their secure print policies and their print environments to ensure that they’re compliant with the regulation.
“GDPR alone though won’t be the sole catalyst for private and public sector organisations taking a renewed interest in device security. With more companies implementing mobile print solutions – and mobile recognised as a potential security risk – we expect to see companies making even more of an effort to tighten up their security policies while ensuring that print devices are an integral part of it.
“Another changing dynamic that will have a bearing on print in 2018, is the growing desire for real-time data and analytics. Customers are increasingly expecting greater insights into all aspects of their business, and this requirement now flters down to print usage, which is perhaps inevitable given print’s cost to a business.
“We’ve anticipated this shift and we expect to see interest in Xeretec’s Pulse, our proprietary business intelligence platform. Pulse offers a centralised view of the entire print infrastructure status including KPIs such as single device usage per month and percentage of colour print output on the total. With Pulse, service delivery aspects are detailed in a very transparent fashion displaying overall uptime and other met/unmet SLAs, list of incidents and helpdesk call resolutions. With the spotlight on all aspects of a businesses’ operational expenses, what we’ll see in 2018 is that print can no longer hide its expenses, nor how it’s performing under an SLA. Therefore, we anticipate more demand for the on-device apps and solutions that we offer which provide the detailed insight into print that business needs.”
Mark Smyth, Chief Operating Officer,Vision
“I believe 2018 will be a year of continued and further consolidation in our market with both resellers and vendors looking to protect and grow their market positions, whilst this will also force change. I also believe there will be financial challenges for some vendors and resellers as Brexit negotiations and the process of exiting the EU continues. It will be more essential than ever to have a well-run, efficient business in our sector that can stand up to market conditions through consolidation that will inevitably expose any inefficient businesses and make it far more difficult for them to compete.
“I believe increased adoption of digital transformation and ways to support and improve security will continue and I expect take up rates to increase as businesses look to become more efficient and drive down cost through automation of manual process, whilst becoming more secure.
“We aim to capitalise on both opportunities from market consolidation and disruption that I believe will create a potential client shift to new resellers, and digital transformation and increased security that will increase demand for improved infrastructure. 2018 will be another interesting year!”
Sebastiaan Crebolder, Group Operations & Marketing Director, Pinnacle Document Solutions
“From a technology point of view, we will see a continued need for workﬂow automation and content management software bridging the gap between paper and electronic documents. We will see a strong demand for multifunctional devices that incorporate app technology and mobile solutions. These devices need to be able to facilitate data security practices compliant with GDPR coming into effect in May 2018.
“We will also see a sharp increase in demand for warehousing solutions as major players in this area such as AOonline, Ocado and Amazon will continue to offer more ﬂexible delivery options to an ever increasing customer base. This will drive demand for stock control/delivery software and barcode readers and printers.
“In production print, short run print solutions for packaging will become more widespread and inkjet technology for high volume transactional print will start to gain some foothold in larger print providers.
“In terms of the market place, economies of scale will drive further consolidation at both vendor and dealer level. As device design is becoming more uniform and modular, service providers are looking to increase their ﬂeets as engineers are able to service more devices in a given territory.”
David Tulip, MPS Programme Director, Network Group
“If recent times are anything to go by, then who knows what 2018 will bring! The HP acquisition of the Samsung print business is now complete and we have seen consolidation of the traditional marketplace. I think this will continue, albeit not so high profle. The Apogee purchase of Danwood was a huge surprise to me personally and will we see more of the ‘Manufacturer-Sellers’ created as we have with the likes of Kyocera/ Annodata and Sharp/Midshire? Certainly the manufacturers of ‘dots on a page’ are looking to secure their life blood – ink and toner sales.
“Speaking of ink will 2018 be the year of ink? I predict considerable growth for HP’s PageWide and Epson’s RIPS as workplace cultures change. I believe we are at the early days of de-centralising print…who’d have thought that just a few years ago with such strong messaging around the benefts of hub printing? Ink technology will disrupt the traditional copier/print resellers’ market place (maybe why so many are looking to exit) and we should see a rise of electronic workﬂow which will push further down into SMB customers.
“Resellers that have come from the traditional IT side of the tracks AND have a credible MPS offering should fare well in this space with their technical aptitude and by virtue of their ‘Trusted Advisor’ position with end-user clients. True service providers should be helping their customers create a living breathing strategic internal print policy document for the business which not only helps with reduction in volume but considers the business needs more holistically.
“There will of course be many discussions around GDPR in the frst half and wider security considerations – the MFP has long been overlooked by many from a threat perspective – yet it is often an unsecured point of entry (or exit if you consider data leaks) to a customer’s IT infrastructure. Another play to the IT reseller side of the tracks. Although just as the traditional IT reseller has been challenged to add managed print to their portfolio it has proved an even bigger jump for print resellers to add IT services – so maybe more IT acquisitions by the MPS players in 2018 in a reversal of seeing the big IT players buy print businesses over recent times. I also believe we will start to see a true ‘cost per seat’ model gain traction with ‘one-cost’ for IT and Print in an ‘as a service’ model, which will keep things simple from an end-users’ cost and management perspective.
“Print volumes as a whole will continue to fall, maybe not as much as the 10 per cent we have seen recently as there is a leaning toward physical marketing opposed to electronic, which in part will grow colour volumes; especially as colour has never been more affordable. Here again those in a ‘Trusted Advisor’ role will be helping businesses to beneft correctly from print – with consideration of course given to reduction in volumes but not at the exclusion of wider business aims. There needs to be more focus on the value of print to a business and not what the cost is. An internal strategic print policy can be daunting requiring input and support from multiple layers and departments, but a good partner with the ‘right customer’ can help achieve this… interestingly the reported biggest disconnect in terms of importance vs. delivery from a customer experience is ‘providing staff that proactively collaborate with them’ – will 2018 be the year where end-users select their providers more on value than price?
“With the enterprise market being mature and somewhat commoditised, there will be more focus on mid-market and SMB and many battles will be fought there.”
Michael George, CEO, Continuum
“In 2018, the number one reason that service providers will be fired by their end customers and a new one will be hired will be security. Clients expect that their service providers are taking every necessary step to secure them against cyberthreats. But, an escalating threat landscape means that there is a new set of attack vectors that those clients aren’t prepared for and a growing portfolio of security tools that they’re not paying for.
“Service providers are going to face diffcult conversations with their clients, in which they need to explain how the threat has changed and what the clients now need to be protected. These will be challenging, but with the marketplace rapidly retooling and retraining to meet this demand, these service providers must either face the diffcult conversation or face being unseated by a more capable rival.
“External factors are at play here, too. While 2017’s massive data breaches stole the headlines for a day or two, their effects will be felt for months and years to come as the stolen data is traded and exploited on the dark web well into 2018. Service providers need to decide if they want to have these tough conversations now, or in the aftermath of an attack, their clients thought they were protected against. This is a place where smart IT Service Providers can dislocate the market by leading with a comprehensive and effective security solution.
“Service providers seeking the opportunity to be acquired in 2018 need to focus on their sales ability, or avoid getting caught in an M&A ‘no-man’s-land.’ Acquirers are now paying a premium for providers that have either a sales capacity or a cost-effective service delivery capacity. If a provider isn’t excelling at either, they’ll be left in no-man’s-land and will struggle to survive in a market that’s consolidating at a rapid pace. Providers need to shift their organisational focus and economics from service delivery to becoming better in-tune with their market and selling against their needs, or they could struggle to survive beyond 2019.”