More than 100 years ago, Ford Motor Company disrupted a number of industries, including the makers of buggies and the wagon and carriage business. At the end of the 20th century, Netflix disrupted the entire entertainment industry, first by directly mailing DVDs to peoples’ homes and making video rental stores obsolete, then offering streaming services that forever changed the way people watch television. And in the beginning of the 21st century, Wikipedia ended an era of hardbound, paid encyclopedias, by offering free, constantly updated and crowd-sourced encyclopedia entries.
These are all “business disruptors,” a term referring to a seemingly innocuous product that eventually becomes popular enough to replace, or displace, a conventional product or service. These disruptions are usually good for business, and companies generally need to embrace these changes and the technologies that go along with them.
Today, potential for disruption is in every corner of every business. And as our world becomes more digital, the market is ripe for business disruptors in the channel. This brings us to HP.
A history of disruption
HP has been disrupting the office imaging industry for decades. Take scalable print technology (SPT) as an example. This breakthrough technology accelerated the pace of printing innovation with printheads that were scalable in size, features and performance. The current HP PageWide Technology is the latest HP printing innovation powered by HP SPT. By moving only the paper under a page-wide, stationary printhead, HP PageWide Technology overcomes the tradeoffs between quality and speed in traditional inkjet printers. The benefits are speed and quality together with lower costs and higher energy efficiency.
Today, HP PageWide Technology can be found in a number of devices, including production print, wide-format and A3 and A4 office print, all offering unique value and features to the segments they serve. In particular, HP’s PageWide A3 MFPs are designed to disrupt the space traditionally occupied by laser-based devices in the SMB, office workgroup and enterprise space.
Why now for business ink?
In the past, the mention of an inkjet-based printer or MFP brought to mind the typical consumer or home office device. These machines, known as serial inkjet printers, use printheads that scan back and forth across a carriage in order to image on the full width of the page. While this technology may be suitable for the home user or even the SOHO space, typically it is not fast enough for the workgroup segment. This is the point at which page-wide inkjet arrays figure prominently in the future of business ink. In these devices, the printhead remains stationary during the printing process and paper moves underneath the printhead at highly rested engine speeds that can match many laser-based devices — up to 80 ppm.
Simplicity is also a selling point for business ink. Standard inkjet writing systems are comprised of only a few major components, as opposed to laser printing, which is accomplished through a complex series of moving parts and includes several potential break points and serviceable items. The simplicity of inkjet systems means more uptime with fewer interventions and simpler service for users and providers.
Another benefit of inkjet is that the media does not have to touch the imaging system during the printing process, unlike laser printers, which melt and fuse toner to the paper through a combination of heat and pressure. As a result, inkjets can typically support a much broader range of substrates compared to laser-based devices. With paper input capacities that start at 550 sheets and go up from there, robust performance is another benefit, with duty cycles comparable to similar laser devices.
And of course, cost is a huge benefit for business inkjet, which can offer operating costs up to 40 percent lower than laser. There are a few reasons for this. Ink is simply cheaper to manufacture than toner. The ability to lower the cost of supplies means that vendors should be able to lower the cost of printing, which is the key market barrier when it comes to moving more office pages to color. Additionally, with inkjet technology, it is possible to precisely measure the amount of ink that moves through each individual nozzle. This allows to accurately track the use of color on any given page, allowing vendors and channel partners to deploy usage-based pricing schemes in which customers are charged only for the amount of color ink that is used.
Finally, business inkjet offers environmental benefits. HP PageWide devices have the lowest carbon footprint of any device in their class, as well as the most energy-efficient performance.
The term “disruption” gets thrown around so frequently it occasionally loses its impact. However, in the case of an office device that is redefining its space, breaking ground in both speed and value, and offering new opportunities for partners, the word “disruption” is exactly right. Business inkjet has been hovering around the edges of the office for a long time, but as we head into 2019 we are seeing the full-fledged disruption in the office space that has only been hinted at in the past.
Disruption in action: Working with HP Premier Partner ImageNet, the City of Arlington refreshed its print fleet across 16 departments with HP A3 technology within a Managed Print Services (MPS) solution. Read the case study.
John Whidden is VP, HP US Print Services Channels Sales