tashatuvango - Fotolia

Print market transitioning to services

Covid-hit industry is accelerating its shift to a cloud and services model to ensure it can offset decline in traditional volume business

The print channel has been in a state of transition, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, as it looks to move to a services-led future to improve its prospects.

With many offices shuttered last year and print fleets gathering dust, those that operate on a hardware and on-premise model have endured difficult times over the past 18 months.

Industry-watcher Quocirca has been tracking the changes in the industry and says there are grounds for optimism among those that are changing their business models.

The fourth edition of Quocirca’s Covid-19 business impact survey found that the levels of negativity in the print industry had dropped. Back in May 2020, 86% said the pandemic had had a negative impact on their business. That figure has now dropped to 68%.

There are concerns that there will be consolidation in the OEM printer market and there were indications that choosing the right partnerships was gaining importance. Many spoke of the need for a thriving ecosystem over the next few years.

The immediate challenge for many in the print world is to transform the business to a services-led model. As offices reopen and workers start to resume their old working patterns, there are expectations that revenues will recover, with 55% expecting strong growth this year.

There is also recognition from many that cloud services will be an opportunity for growth and is an area that deserves more engagement. Managed print services did not seem to have the right buzz factor with customers, with users instead focused primarily on cloud-based digital workflows, collaboration services and digitisation of paper-based processes.

A market in transition

Quocirca’s latest report found that the print world was changing, with many recognising the need for a different approach: 

  • 61% of those quizzed reported that the biggest challenge they faced was moving from a product-centric to a services-led model.
  • 55% expected to see strong or very strong revenue growth in 2021/22, and 27% expected revenue to remain flat.
  • 85% said they had seen a decline in print volumes, with more than half (53%) not expecting that situation to be reversed.
  • 91% expected to see greater demand for cloud-based digital workflows, and 81% expected to see demand for cloud-based print management.
  • 45% of channel respondents are worried about customers’ move to online purchasing, with Amazon seen as a threat.

“As the effects of Covid-19 begin to recede in many countries, the shape of the hybrid workplace is starting to emerge,” said Quocirca director Louella Fernandes. “There is a strong sense that now is a critical time for the print industry to position itself to recapture its relevance with customers. However, this will not be achieved through the historical model of product sales and print volumes.

“Our survey respondents accept that print volumes are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels and that future revenue growth must be linked to diversification and a change in operating model. Digital workflow solutions, cloud-based print management, and security assessment services that address the new challenges of home and hybrid workers are all major areas of opportunity.”

Referring to the comments the channel had made about the need for an ecosystem, Fernandes said there had already been signs in the market of developments on that front.  “We are already seeing some interesting partnerships and new businesses emerging focused on the needs of the new-style workplace ecosystem,” she said. “This is a positive sign and will help businesses map their offerings onto the changing needs of customers.” 

Read more on Managed IT Services