The big disconnect: Print and digital in the future workplace

Quocirca’s Global Print 2025 second edition report reveals a significant gap between office workers and IT decision makers in their expectations of the future converged print and digital workplace.

The second edition Quocirca’s landmark Print 2025 study extends research to include the perspective of office workers as well as re-visiting the views of IT decision makers. The results indicate a significant difference of opinion between those who use print technology and related services, and those who specify, purchase and run them.

Collaborative mobility versus a conventional print-reliant workplace

The study reveals that, while office workers are pushing an agenda of smart mobile working and digital collaboration, most IT decision makers still envisage a print-reliant workplace to 2025 and are making investment decisions accordingly. This suggests that an IT workforce tied to traditional technologies may be one of the main barriers hindering increased productivity in the digital workplace.

The disconnect between IT decision makers and office workers is borne out through the following research findings:

  • 65% of IT decision makers believe paper will still be important to the workplace by 2025, compared to just 36% of office workers
  • 62% of office workers rank investment in digital collaboration tools as a priority, compared to 45% of IT decision makers.

This disagreement between stakeholders may prove ominous for the print industry, which is at a critical point where it must build momentum around ‘as-a-service’ IT-centric offerings. Identifying what customers want and need will prove difficult in this conflicted environment. The result is a satisfaction gap where office workers don’t get the productivity tools they want, and IT decision makers see their investments failing to have the impact they anticipate.

Significantly, 58% of respondents said print vendors must become a strategic partner to IT decision makers and lines-of-business. They must help identify what business units really need, offering services that satisfy those requirements, while also responding to the security and control requirements of IT decision-makers. Failure to do this will see print vendors continue losing influence with both IT decision-makers and lines-of-business at the crucial point where digital transformation focus is turning towards digitising paper-based processes.  49% of respondents believe that this will be very important to digital transformations initiatives in 2025, compared with 25% who say it is important today.

Sustainability climbs the corporate agenda

A key issue on which IT decision makers and office workers agree is sustainability, which has leapt up the corporate agenda since the first edition of the research in 2017. 83% of all respondents expect sustainability to be highly important to their business by 2025, while 52% of IT decision makers state that lowering environmental impact is the number one print management challenge they face, outweighing cost reduction and security. By contrast, in 2017 reducing environmental impact was in 7thplace in the list of print challenges.

57% of respondents expect suppliers to adopt a leading position on sustainability by 2025, while one fifth have sustainability projects in the pipeline for the coming 12 months.

Analysis reveals that the sustainability drive is focused on initiatives that will deliver measurable results. Print vendors need to quantify the environmental improvements that their services deliver and work in partnership to help businesses reduce their impact. The planned investments in environmental projects represent an opportunity for those print vendors who can deliver the right sustainability messages, backed up with robust evidence.

Mobility and cloud-based print management accelerating

Quocirca’s research found organisations expect 66% of their workforce will be mobile by 2025, up from 49% today. This has accelerated from 2017, when 36% were mobile and it was anticipated 56% would be mobile by 2025. Mobile working was viewed by respondents as one of the key factors that will reduce print volumes between now and 2025, alongside greater use of collaboration tools and document capture and workflow solutions.

More organisations are taking advantage of cloud-based print management, with 73% expecting to increase usage by 2025. A quarter of respondents felt that print vendors should be investing in cloud printing to increase their relevance to the workplace. Unsurprisingly, security services and solutions topped the list of areas for vendor investment (30%), followed by print-to-digital integration platforms (28%) and energy monitoring (27%).

Complex and challenging times ahead

The path to print and digital convergence is growing more complex and less linear, especially when increased environmental concern is added to the mix. The transition from the printed page in the context of broader digital transformation offers diverse options for businesses and this is creating tension between IT decision makers and lines-of-business.

To succeed in this market, vendors must develop deep strategic relationships with customers to unpick their needs and devise a route to meeting them. They must anticipate the continuing shift to cloud-based print management and be prepared to articulate the benefits to clients, as well as building strong messaging around sustainability.

The full market insight study offers in-depth insight and analysis of the state of print and digital convergence and the views of key stakeholders. It includes an analysis of how organisations’ print dependence, digital maturity and sustainability focus can be interpreted by vendors to inform key messaging. It is designed assist print industry vendors, managed service providers and channel companies in strategic decision-making to drive future success in a disrupted sector.

Research notes

This research is the second edition of Quocirca’s Print 2025 market insight study, which examines the drivers, opportunities and challenges facing the print industry. It explores changing buyer requirements, user demands and the place of print in the evolving digital workplace.

The 2019 research expanded upon the IT decision maker research undertaken in 2018 to include those using print technologies. Quocirca undertook 1625 interviews across a range of organisations across different verticals in France, Germany, Italy, the Nordics, Spain, the UK and the US.

975 interviews were with end users and 650 were with those who influence decision making on acquiring or purchasing print-related services in the organisation. The research took place in May 2019.

To purchase the report or download a complimentary copy of the executive summary, click here.

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