What does the future hold for the print technology industry?

Manufacturer (HP, Ricoh, Xerox, Canon etc.) strategies are changing. It’s a saturated market & no longer can they guarantee large revenues to increase share prices, to benefit their investors.

Some are focusing on diversification & transitioning to large scale communication & IT organisations. Both Ricoh & Konica Minolta have already made bold strides in this direction.

Konica Minolta now include servers in some multifunctional printing devices & offer a whole host of IT services for medium & large organisations.

Ricoh are even further down the road to becoming a full-blown global IT services company. Their goal is to deliver at least half of global sales revenues from non-print activities within 3 years.

Then there’s HP…

HP split its business a few years back. Forming HP Enterprise & HP Inc. HP Enterprise is already a global IT services business. Which means it’s not a strategy HP Inc can adopt.

HP Inc is a PC & printing business. But it’s been a bit stuck & can’t follow Konica & Ricoh’s strategy.

So, they’ve adopted a different approach…

HP Inc is driven by its share price & Wall Street. And in an oversubscribed market the only way to expand share is to take it from your competitors.

Having already bought & digested Samsung’s printing business, it looks like Xerox will be next.

It was recently announced that HP & Xerox are expanding their business relationship, which in market terms, indicates there is a very good chance an acquisition is on the cards soon.

Acquiring Xerox would deliver a huge increase in market share & massive saving opportunities through consolidation of locations & employees. We’ve no doubt other acquisitions will follow.

The HP reseller model is pretty much dead. HP are now selling direct to anyone through their ecommerce sites & through recent acquisitions.

Take Apogee. Apogee (based in the UK) were Europe’s largest provider of multi-brand managed print services & document management solutions. HP purchased them last year for £380 million.

HP had always struggled with high end enterprise printing solutions. But with the purchase of Apogee they now have access to all the major brands & solutions in the market.

Add to this the likely purchase of Xerox & HP become the number 1 print technology solution provider in every market globally. Domestic, SME & enterprise. Selling direct in most markets.

What does this mean for companies like ours?

Personally, we think companies like ours still have a major roll to play. Maybe not with large organisations. But certainly, with small & medium organisations and the general public.

Large enterprises like HP & Ricoh will focus on the fat contracts with the larger enterprises. Not giving the smaller organisations & general public the certainty & peace of mind required.

But even smaller organisations & the general public will want something different in the future. Challenging companies like ours to change or disappear.

The transactional business model will cease to exist & it will no longer be about buying individual products or services in sperate agreements & transactions.

Take the domestic market…

The general public is ready for a printing service they don’t have to think or worry about. Which provides a fit for purpose printer, replacement cartridges on demand & a full support package. Paid in a fixed monthly fee with easy cancellation & no penalties.

Same goes for small & medium organisations too. But with a twist…

In the future. It’s not just going to be about printing technology. Yes. Short term they’ll require a fit for purpose print technology solution too, with fixed monthly fees & easy (no penalty) cancelation.

In the future. Small & medium enterprises are going to want the same as the large enterprises. They’ll want all their office technology solutions delivered by 1 partner in 1 fixed monthly fee.

This will include things like printing technology, IT equipment & support, broadband & telephony. And could also include things like audio visual equipment, website maintenance & even stationery.

Yes. In the future small & medium organisations will want to focus solely on growing their core business & will outsource their non-core functions to 1 company charging 1 monthly fee.

Imagine 1 model delivering a full end-to-end solution from a single partner will just 1 point of contact. That’s what companies like ours will need to deliver in the future.

It’s a new procurement strategy that combines product leasing & managed services into a single predictable monthly payment, delivered by 1 provider.

It’s the way the world is moving. People want to transition from large upfront investments to an on-demand model. Don’t pay for the asset. Pay for using the asset.

Yes. It’s going to create some challenges for companies like ours. Things like knowledge, scale & finances. But nothings unsurmountable & partnerships are going to be key.

We need to understand the changing requirements of our customers & the changing strategies of the OEMs (HP & Ricoh etc.). In the end change always happens & we must change with it too.