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Print services procurement moving into the cloud

Research from Quocirca reveals increasing use of cloud marketplaces while Konica Minolta charts increasing SME move towards digitisation

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move to the cloud in the print industry, presenting opportunities for those that can get involved with marketplaces.

There is an ongoing shift from traditional procurement methods, with industry analyst firm Quocirca noting in its The rise of cloud marketplaces report that customers are happier buying online.

Three-quarters of those that were surveyed for evidence in the report revealed they had already used marketplaces including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, and just over half had been on platforms such as Amazon Business. Only 30% said they were still buying direct from a channel partner.

The trend towards cloud marketplaces is set to continue, with 88% of customers expecting further growth in the next couple of years.

When it came to print management, more than half were found to have already purchased services via a cloud marketplace, with the level of interest from mid-market and larger enterprises even higher.

The report also indicated a changing customer preference towards using cloud marketplaces, with many preferring it to traditional procurement methods. That trend was even more pronounced in smaller customers, which indicated that they liked the simplicity offered by marketplaces.

Another point raised by the report was that Azure was the most used marketplace, with AWS and Google Cloud coming in second and third respectively.

“This has considerable implications for industries, such as the office print sector, that have so far relied on traditional channels and partnerships. The procurement process has fundamentally changed as the digital-native generation of IT decision-makers takes control,” said Quocirca director Louella Fernandes.

“As the office technology industry looks to recover and remain relevant in the cloud-centric, post-pandemic world, manufacturers, software vendors and channel partners must participate in the cloud marketplace ecosystem,” she added.

Fernandes’ advice to the channel was to ensure it was part of an ecosystem that had access to marketplaces. “To advance digital transformation in the print sector and enable vendors to capitalise on the wider cloud market opportunity, OEMs must strategically collaborate and partner with hyperscale provider marketplaces,” she said.

“This will unlock opportunities for vendors to reach a wider market with both cloud print and wider digital workflow solutions – particularly within the SMB market, but ultimately across the entire customer base,” she added.

“Ultimately, cloud marketplaces can provide an opportunity for vendors across the value chain and means that MPS providers, ISVs and channel partners should collaborate to take advantage, expand reach and discover new revenue opportunities.”

Meanwhile, print player Konica Minolta has worked with Keypoint Intelligence to identify how the pandemic has affected the SME customer base and to identify the key pain points.

Its main conclusion was that security was the top concern for SMEs, with many struggling to react to the demand for staff to work from home during the pandemic. There were also challenges in servicing hardware and software during the virus-impacted months.

“As a likely consequence of this, 33% invested in managed IT services as a result of Covid-19,” said Olaf Lorenz, senior general manager of the digital transformation division at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe.

“The challenge of remote working has certainly spurred digitisation efforts overall. In 65% of organisations, decision-makers said the pressures of the pandemic had accelerated their journey towards greater digitisation,” he added.

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