Print channel must adapt to a hybrid world

Latest findings from analyst house Quocirca indicate many expect remote working to remain the norm

Print has been one of the sectors most challenged in the industry during Covid-19 as printer fleets sit gathering dust in closed offices across the country.

But with life starting to get back to a more normal footing, there are signs that print volumes will bounce back and there could be opportunities for those in the channel that can support users managing disparate devices.

Over the past few weeks, some of those that are manufacturing products that would support home working have been talking up the “hybrid office”, where staff remain at home for half the week or more, and sharing their views with the channel that, for many customers, this will become a permanent shift.

Print industry analyst Quocirca has factored the rise in hybrid working into its latest analysis of the market, Printing in the hybrid workplace – with it creating opportunities for those able to deliver security, cloud and document management solutions.

On the plus side, many are already reporting a rise in the adoption of document rights implementations and extended security. There has also been an uptick in the number of users shifting to cloud printing.

Almost three-quarters of the firms the analyst house quizzed said they expected print volumes to remain the same or increase, and just under half of employees are expecting to remain working remotely after the pandemic.

“The acceleration of remote working precipitated by Covid-19 is seeing IT decision-makers move greater print flexibility and support for remote worker productivity up their agenda,” said Louella Fernandes, director at Quocirca. “As a result, many organisations have already implemented digital signatures and alternatives to hard copy workflows, as well as cloud print management.

“Concerns about remote print security remain, with implementation of digital rights management already in place or planned for most organisations as they aim to control what can be printed from an application level.”

Fernandes said the challenge for the channel was reacting to the changes and moving to ensure they are in a position to meet the latest customer needs.

According to the Quocirca survey, one of the top priorities for UK customers is changing the layout of their print fleet as they adapt to changes.

“As print suppliers pivot to meet immediate market demand, the focus will be on supporting distributed print fleets, enabling secure remote working solutions and building them into managed print services,” said Fernandes. “However, over the long term, becoming a cloud-first business will be key to offering solutions that solve immediate problems, but also deliver strategic value as the hybrid workplace continues to evolve.”

Quocirca has been charting the impact of Covid-19 on the print channel since the start of the pandemic and has said partners and vendors need to react to the changing landscape.

In a blog post back in April, Fernandes signalled that major changes had been accelerated by the virus and the status quo had to change. “As working practices move from the office to the home, the pandemic is potentially signalling a faster shift from paper to digital processes,” she said.

“With office print volumes diminishing, and home workers becoming more accustomed to working digitally, vendors and their channel are having to adapt their services.”

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