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Managed print grows, but the channel can help to it expand further

Quocirca research indicates there are hurdles holding back users from committing to cloud printing, but Brother reports that the cloud-printing side of the business is expanding healthily

Customers are continuing to embrace cloud printing, but the channel needs to be aware of the barriers holding back greater adoption to drive further growth.

According to Quocirca’s Cloud print services 2023 report, there continue to be issues around security, resilience and availability for the hybrid workforce.

The analyst house found that those users it quizzed across the UK, US, France and Germany saw more of their infrastructure heading into the cloud, with hybrid set to be the most popular approach.

When it comes to printing, Quocirca found that 31% now manage printing fully or mostly in the cloud, and more than half (55%) expect to do so by 2025.

Despite the adoption of cloud-based services, many users continued to invest in on-premise technology, with only 13% of respondents reducing or completely removing servers from the print environment in the past year. Almost half (48%) have increased the number they are using, particularly those using mixed vendor fleets or using managed print services.

There were indications that more progress could be made if security concerns were assuaged, with the idea that cloud printing is vulnerable remaining a perception the channel needs to challenge. More than one-third (36%) of IT decision-makers stated that device and document security were the key concern.

Other hurdles included a lack of demonstrable cost savings and concerns that performance would be hit if connectivity was lost or unreliable.

Quocirca research director Louella Fernandes said that the shift to a hybrid working environment would explain some of the views expressed by IT decision-makers.

“The rise in print server deployment – particularly among those operating mixed vendor fleets – is likely to be a reflection of the changes organisations are making to support hybrid working and expand their device fleet,” she said.

“These findings indicate that organisations are taking a more thoughtful approach to the cloud print transition. While aware of the benefits, they are looking for greater certainty in terms of cost savings and performance.

“Cloud security remains a key concern keeping companies’ printing on-premise. However, both cloud and on-premise environments are susceptible to security breaches, and businesses shouldn’t forgo the considerable cost and resource advantages cloud print solutions can deliver on the basis of security concerns.

“MPS providers and ISVs need to focus on clarifying their messaging on security, cost, and performance benefits in order to support the continued cloud transition,” she added.

When it came to focusing on the role played by the channel, the report was positive, with many users satisfied with their managed print services provider. Those trying to do it without a partner were not as happy with the results.

“This suggests that utilising a third-party MPS provider is a more successful strategy for reaping the full benefits of cloud print than going it alone,” says Fernandes. “With cloud print services listed as a key supplier selection factor by almost half (45%) of decision-makers, MPS providers with cloud expertise are in a strong position.

“As the capabilities of cloud-based print management systems continue to improve, a move to the cloud will become attractive to more organisations. For those with a highly decentralised, hybrid workforce that requires high levels of both device and information security, as well as flexibility and the capacity to add more business capabilities into their print environment, cloud-based print management is fast becoming the only option,” she added.

Meanwhile, Brother underlined the appeal of managed print to the channel, reporting that its MPS agreements on contract and pages increased by 23% and 32% respectively over the past financial year, ending 31 March.

The vendor has seen more smaller resellers switching over to managed print and the healthcare vertical has also been a strong area of growth.

Greig Millar, chief revenue officer at Brother UK, said that more customers were starting to appreciate the benefits of turning to managed print as a service.

“More businesses are seeing the potential of MPS to boost productivity, create new efficiencies and enhance security,” he said. “We know it’s vital that resellers have accessible, straightforward and hassle-free means to delivering contractual sales and tapping into the demand for print as a service.”

Printerbase, a Brother partner, has been one of those that has seen strong MPS growth. Khalil Hussain, business manager at the firm, said it had been reacting to market conditions: “There is significant momentum behind the shift to print as a service, and we expect this to continue as offices strive to find new efficiencies in their operations.

“More small businesses are making the change as they see the benefits of smaller monthly payment options that free up cash to support other areas of their business.”

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