The Imaging Channel https://www.theimagingchannel.com The New World of Office Technology Fri, 03 Apr 2020 11:30:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 HP Announces Partner & Customer Relief Initiatives https://www.theimagingchannel.com/hp-announces-partner-customer-relief-initiatives/ Thu, 02 Apr 2020 12:43:25 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11223 PALO ALTO, Calif., April 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, HP Inc. announced a variety of relief initiatives aimed at

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PALO ALTO, Calif., April 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, HP Inc. announced a variety of relief initiatives aimed at arming its global channel partner community to effectively navigate the operational and financial challenges associated with COVID-19. In addition to providing a variety of financing and leasing options for end customers, the company will offer short-term, market and country-specific incentives for channel partners. Offers will vary by geography and are dependent on partner eligibility.1

In addition, HP has implemented a more predictable, flat-rate incentive program and relaxed compensation models to allow for more partner flexibility with linearity while extending deadlines for submission of proof of performance and reporting1. The specific changes will be communicated to channel partners by HP market and country teams this week.

“As a global company, we understand the importance of acting globally while executing at the local level. Rather than taking a one-size fits all approach, we are taking a customized approach specific to the unique and evolving dynamics at the market and country level, depending on a variety of factors,” said Christoph Schell, Chief Commercial Officer, HP Inc. “We’re structured to ensure the continuity of our business operations even under the most challenging circumstances and we feel very fortunate to be in a position to offer the help and support needed by our valued partners and customers.”

Leaning in with HP Integrated Financial Solutions for end-customers
In partnership with its endorsed finance partners, HP’s Integrated Financial Solutions group is now offering a variety of financial and asset lifecycle options, including deferred/reduced payments until 2021, short term rentals and cash infusion for customer-owned HP devices through a sale leaseback program1.

Qualified customers can convert existing, owned workplace assets into a payment solution or acquire technology needed today with reduced payments for the remainder of 2020 to alleviate temporary cash flow challenges1. Customers can also take advantage of a delayed payment structure or enroll in a PC rental program, available on equipment contracts for a period of 12 months. After 12 months, rental devices can be extended, purchased or returned for an upgrade1.

Free virtual cybersecurity support
To address potential cybersecurity risks for those working or learning from home, HP has launched a goodwill security campaign. In addition to offering tips and advice online, HP is offering free customer webinars to help set up home offices securely.

HP will also offer its HP Sure Click Pro free of charge through September 30, 2020, to help protect users from web, email, and document-based security threats. HP Sure Click Pro enhances existing HP Sure Click with additional features such as editing Word and Excel documents within an isolated container. This offer will be available for use on all HP and non-HP Windows 10 PCs. Additional details are available on the HP.com Security Solutions site.

“In a world turned upside down by coronavirus, the launch of these security solutions honestly couldn’t come at a better time,” said Patrick Moorhead, Moor Insights & Strategy. “More people than ever are being forced to work at home, and these off-network work devices must be as fully secured as they would be in the office. Even once things more or less return to business as usual, it’s a well-known fact that the workforce is becoming more mobile by the year.”

Robust virtual training & engagement platforms
To help arm partners with the skills and knowledge required to optimize revenue and future-proof their business, HP University offers online, on-demand learning options across a variety of topics including sales skills education, product training and industry-leading certifications. Partners can opt in for customized online digital learning paths designed to meet their specific priorities.

HP shifted all events throughout fiscal 2020 (ending October 31, 2020) to virtual engagement models to deliver a sustained drumbeat of curated news and information and networking opportunities, leveraging both internal and external voices. In addition, the company has shifted its customer engagement model to a robust, online platform across a broad set of topics including office printing, security, mobility solutions and HP services.

Enhanced 24/7 customer support
To address heightened demand for customer support, HP has cross-trained agents to manage multiple queues, established access to work-from-home technology for agents, and leveraging chat, social and web support options. Customers are advised to make use of the a 24/7 Virtual Agent as the first resolution option in addition to COVID-19 specific information posted on its global support website.

About HP Inc.
HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) creates technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere. Through our product and service portfolio of personal systems, printers and 3D printing solutions, we engineer experiences that amaze. More information about HP Inc. is available at www.hp.com.

1 Offers vary by geography and are dependent on customer and partner eligibility. Available financing options and extended payments terms may be subject to conditions, credit review and approval.

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Kazuto Ogawa Assumes Role as President and CEO of Canon U.S.A., Inc. https://www.theimagingchannel.com/kazuto-ogawa-assumes-role-as-president-and-ceo-canon-usa/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 16:17:11 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11242 MELVILLE, NY, April 1, 2020 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is proud to announce the

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MELVILLE, NY, April 1, 2020Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is proud to announce the appointment of Kazuto Ogawa as President and CEO of Canon U.S.A. Inc., effective April 1, 2020, along with other senior executive promotions.

Mr. Ogawa has almost 40 years of experience with Canon since beginning his career with Canon Inc. in 1981. From 1995-2005, he held positions with Canon Singapore, Canon Hong Kong and Canon China before returning to Canon Singapore as president and CEO. In 2008, Mr. Ogawa was named president and CEO of Canon Canada. He became an executive officer of Canon Inc. in 2011 and was appointed executive vice president of Canon China in 2014. He was elected as a managing executive officer of Canon Inc. in 2016.

“It is a great honor to take on this role as the new president and chief executive officer of Canon U.S.A., Inc., especially during a time of uncertainty when COVID-19 is impacting the global marketplace,” said Mr. Ogawa. “In this pivotal moment, our employees, customers, channel partners and other stakeholders remain our top priority and we all need to work together to navigate through this challenging time.”

Mr. Ogawa’s new role as President & CEO will be complemented with other senior executive appointments at Canon U.S.A. Inc., on which he remarked: “I’m pleased to acknowledge the well-deserved promotions of my esteemed colleagues. This leadership team exemplifies Canon’s dedication to growth and innovation and commitment to our values.”

The additional Canon executive appointments include:

  • Tatsuro Kano has been promoted from senior vice president and general manager of Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc. to executive vice president of the Imaging Technologies and Communications Group.
  • Shinichi Yoshida, executive vice president and general manager of Business Imaging Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc. has been promoted from vice chairman to chairman and chief executive officer of Canon Solutions America. He has added these titles in addition to retaining his role at Business Imaging Communications Group.
  • Katsuhiko Matsufuji has been promoted to the role of vice president and general manager of Marketing, Business Imaging Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc. Mr. Matsufuji is returning to the U.S.A. from Canon Inc. in Tokyo and is replacing Hiro Imamura, who is assuming a role with Canon Europe Ltd.

For more information about Canon U.S.A., visit www.usa.canon.com.

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Leading During a Lockdown: What Prison Can Teach Us https://www.theimagingchannel.com/leading-during-a-lockdown-what-prison-can-teach-us/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 15:15:00 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11218 I’ve been on the phone with a lot of CEOs and other executives the past few weeks who are struggling

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I’ve been on the phone with a lot of CEOs and other executives the past few weeks who are struggling with managing major businesses while their employees have been scattered in the wind to work from home. It’s not easy and the answers aren’t obvious, but while attempting to meditate (don’t ask!) I’ve come up with a few ideas that might at least allow us to look at the problem differently.

First of all, I know it is possible to accomplish – you can do it! And now allow me to show you why I am so confident of that.

Think of the major drug cartels.

Really – I’m serious. They have been leading multi-billion dollar enterprises FROM PRISON for decades. If they can do it, I bet we can figure it out.

My information is anecdotal, of course, and comes from Hollywood, but still, I am assured by all the credit sequences that it is based on real events.

Here’s some observations:

You need the right crew

Part of the reason criminal enterprises are so successful is that they breed a certain type of culture, and recruit members with values and traits that fit in well with that culture. Likewise, CEOs need to cultivate a culture that can help their organization flourish. You need trustworthy team players with a “can do” attitude and devotion to their job, their customers, the technology they sell, and the organization they work for. Whether you’re in prison, your home office, or operating under normal conditions — assuming prison or home office isn’t normal — you need to work with people you can trust to do the job the way you would do it yourself.

You’ve got to stay in touch

Just like prison, COVID-19 physically separates us from our business associates. So, maintaining contact with the folks you work with, your suppliers, and your customers is a must. In prison, you’d meet with visitors (like Holly Golightly) or smuggle in a cellphone to keep up with what’s happening on the outside. In our situation, we’ve got dozens of video conferencing and collaboration platforms to make sure we stay connected. You’re as capable of holding your employees responsible from a home office as a mob boss is from a cell — in the form of a pink slip rather than cement shoes, hopefully. If prison bars and all the physical security in the world can’t stop a high-level mobster from communicating with suppliers and key members within their organization, then your home office shouldn’t either.

Hazard pay

Loyalty is a two-way street. No one is going to be loyal to you for no reason. Just like respect, loyalty is earned. Gangsters understand this because, in the criminal world, one disloyal person can ruin it for the entire organization. Criminal organizations keep their incarcerated members on the payroll.

You’ve got to take care of your employees during these tough times to make sure they stick around when things are better. Your employees are going to remember how you treated them during the time of crisis. If you want loyal, dedicated employees, then you need to be loyal and dedicated to their basic needs.

Winning

Criminal organizations have the same goals as your business. They want to make money. They want to grow their business. They want to beat the competition. The products and services that they sell and the best practices they employ might be different. But as long as we’re stuck inside and they’re stuck behind bars, you have a lot more in common then you thought.

A quick-reference checklist:
What might be important in these unusual times

  1. Access to a cell phone
  2. A cadre of trusted professionals around you or available to you at all times
  3. Excellent communication skills
  4. An internal network of couriers or information networks to get information where it needs to be quickly
  5. Storage for finished products
  6. Good logistics for product movement
  7. Product proximity to customers
  8. Creativity with bartering and building strategic alliances
  9. Good lawyers/consiglieri
  10. Banking relationships
  11. Align production capacity to current and projected demand
  12. Maintaining your territories
  13. Maintaining a good interface to the government authorities
  14. Protection for your team
  15. Networking and communications infrastructure
  16. Security – for buildings and people
  17. Contingency plans for rapidly changing environments to adapt and adjust
  18. A succession plan for unexpected events in case you can’t lead anymore
  19. Good cash flow for your “soldiers” to keep money in their pockets

 

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Office Technology Trends in the Smart Office Era https://www.theimagingchannel.com/office-technology-trends-smart-office-era/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 15:11:11 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11182 There is an evolution going on in thinking about office technology hardware. It’s called the smart office, and it means

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There is an evolution going on in thinking about office technology hardware. It’s called the smart office, and it means using technology to make it easier for people to interact with data, make it easier for them to share information, and make it easier for them to collaborate and create higher value around business outcomes. It requires a shift from thinking solely about what can happen within hardware offerings to thinking about what is happening around the hardware as enterprises, SMBs, and workers use all available technology to create their smart office environment. 

Hardware is critical, but how we think about it is changing. The digital transformation in the way firms and employees work is enabled by bringing different pieces of technology together. Businesses are thinking about how each piece of technology – hardware, software, cloud, services – must work together to deliver the benefits of the smart office. The product-centric siloes of the past are on their way out and this thinking is shaping new trends in the work landscape.  

Work trends fueled by technology

Through ongoing network advances, IT infrastructure is more widespread than ever before. The ubiquity of the internet, sensors in devices to support network connectivity, and even BYOD desires of workers have made all office equipment into IT equipment now. No longer can copiers, printers, scanners, laptops, video displays, whiteboards, mobile devices, software, etc. be looked at individually to deliver the complete benefits they once did to a firm. Organizations have found that the ability to share information and support collaboration efforts across all these platforms throughout the network is highly productive and expected by their employees who are more and more digital natives. This trend of cross-platform collaboration will grow as technology advances continue and as the workforce changes.

The Internet of Things

Smarter offices have come about because of the internet of things (IoT). Manufacturers are engineering sensors into devices to provide status reports and make remote adjustments. These sensors let devices communicate and share data with other devices formerly considered disparate. Consider that there is technology already available that connects people to meeting rooms faster, senses the environment of the room (too hot or cold; even sensing carbon dioxide levels in the room,) communicates with the devices people are using to connect to the meeting, and connects with the building infrastructure to adjust brightness, volume, even airflow to the room to change the meeting room’s temperature. This type of technology interconnectivity contributes seamlessly to better meeting and collaboration experiences, producing more productive results.

Remote workers

Another important trend to recognize is the increase in remote workers. The newest generation in the workforce has grown up using digital technology to do work that once was possible only by being in an office building. Team meetings, conference calls, private chats, and information sharing can now be done on laptops and mobile devices wherever the employee is working. Working from home, or anywhere else remotely, is easier than ever before — which was fortunate when the COVID-19 impact created an enormous need for employees to work from home. Many firms that had not been willing to allow remote work in the past will find that employees can be as or more productive and collaborative using interconnected technologies. Once circumstances allow, some of these remote workers will be back in the office and may find themselves in conference rooms without cameras and other tools they’ve become accustomed to; tools they have learned to rely on that improve collaboration and make meetings more productive. Being back in the office could feel like a downgrade in technology and reduce the productivity that employees had at home — with Bring Your Own Meetings (BYOM) tools, it’s possible to capture the convenience of the smart home and bring it into the office.

Collaboration needs

The trend away from using printed pages to distribute information among office teams will continue. While a need for paper documents will still exist, that need will diminish as workers share more information and data using technologies other than paper. New collaboration applications, tools, and software enable real-time tracking of projects, make it easier for the reviewing and editing of documents, and make the management of tasks more efficient. Collaboration that once called for team members to have paper documents can now be done using interactive whiteboards, video conferencing and other collaborative platforms. As the workforce changes and remote workers increase, the use of collaborative tools like these will obviously increase. 

Security

Concerns about security and the need for compliance with an increasing number of regulations have driven trends in hardware and software integrations. One of the initial steps to ensure security and compliance tracking is user authentication. To make the authentication step easier for the user, mobility and near field contact (NFC) technology are being used together. Almost all workers have mobile phones that can use NFC to easily authenticate to devices without the need to remember a card, user ID, or password. This requirement for making secure technology easier to use across all interconnected devices and services will continue to drive the need for IT services from partners with a proficient understanding of network security. 

The interconnected world has brought together different office technology pieces in ways that have made their use seamless and easier. The combination and use of these different technologies may be undertaken by the end user, the IT department of a company, or in some instances, through an imaging channel reseller. The challenge has not been the availability of technology in hardware or software. Rather it is in the way businesses are beginning to expect the bundling and consuming of the technologies.  This is an opportunity for both imaging channel manufacturers and resellers as they come to realize they are in the information sharing business, encompassing the engineering, delivering, connecting, and servicing of more than one office technology category.

Changing technology consumption models

The traditional imaging channel was built on a variable consumption model. The transactional sale of a copier involves, most likely a through a lease, a fixed payment amount a firm can easily budget. However, the pricing and sale of maintenance, service, and supplies is based on a cost per page that creates separate invoices that vary depending upon the total number of pages a firm prints in a billing period. All-inclusive MPS programs and new flat-rate programs have attempted to take the variables out of the equation to provide customers with one regular billing that includes hardware, service, and supplies. However, challenges remain in the flexibility of upgrading to new features and functions following a new hardware rollout, or when usage patterns change at the customer, making a seamless change difficult without altering the underlying payment agreement.

Many software solutions, too, are sold based on a consumption model. Customers are billed based on how many documents or transactions are processed, how many users interact with the solution, or how much bandwidth is consumed during an agreed-upon timeframe. With the growth of cloud platforms, the consumption of this technology, unlike hardware technology, has grown easier for customers to consume and vary their usage requirements. With cloud solutions, new features and functions can be added and made immediately available to users, and billing can vary at the customer’s discretion based upon the number of users that need access to the software technology during any given timeframe.

To meet today’s collaboration needs, these two technology consumption models are colliding. To share information efficiently, software is used across copiers, printers, interactive screens, and other office hardware technology. Current invoicing and billing models for separate hardware devices and software solutions are causing enterprises to wonder why they can’t have one invoice since many of the hardware, software, and services are, or can be, supplied by the same dealer or reseller. Additionally, organizations want to make sure they always have the most up to date technology in use, configured to their specific needs and budget. 

The office technology utility

In the minds of many enterprise decision-makers, office technology is very much like electricity, water, and other utilities. They simply want the technology to work when it is turned on or accessed, and then pay for the technology they use during a time period. This “office technology utility” model can provide an opportunity for those creative enough to develop offerings around it. It could be viewed as another “as a Service” model. Still, there are challenges to overcome. 

What to include in an “office technology utility” offering will differ between resellers, depending upon the type of technology they sell and are trained on. Those that have a wider technology offering that includes as much of the hardware and software needed for the type of information collaboration now required will be in a much better position. Those that choose to maintain a singular product category attitude will find it more difficult to remain competitive, and perhaps even more difficult to be attractive to M&A suitors. 

In pricing the offer, customers have shown they prefer a flat rate such as a monthly fee. How that should and will be priced – per employee, per hours used, per something else – will evolve based upon the needs of the customer and the creativity of the reseller. There will need to be finance partners available that can provide flexibility of billing for technology upgrades during the agreement. Current lease and finance companies serving the imaging channel may be in good positions to do this.

Overall, a shift to this type of technology consumption model will most likely change the revenue and profit footprint of dealers and resellers. Revenue and profit growth will continue to be available for those bold enough to make the change. However, that revenue and profit will not come from the traditional sources that have served the channel for more than 50 years.      

To make the new technology consumption model work, manufacturers must engineer products that can be interconnected with the collaboration tools organizations are using. This openness to work with any platform has been emerging and needs to continue. Manufacturers will need to support their channel partners’ requirements in delivering an “office technology utility” by broadening their collaboration solution toolkit in hardware and software, making it easier to deliver new features and functions to hardware automatically and seamlessly, and providing training and education to sales forces and customers alike.    

Adjusting to the smart office era

Times are changing rapidly, and hardware changes are no longer the sole driving force behind office automation trends. The technology and creativity that interconnect devices and people are creating new working collaboration environments. How office technologies are acquired and consumed is changing rapidly. 

Understanding that the imaging channel is really in the “information sharing business” forces our thinking to move from the selling siloes of the past. It forces dealers, resellers and manufacturers to ask how they can position themselves to enable the type of collaboration between both remote and onsite employees that enterprises now expect. 

To do that, integration of different technology pieces is required to fit individual customers’ smart office needs. Simply put, in today’s climate, a dealer, reseller or manufacturer that is not investing in diversifying technology offerings and being creative in putting together an “office technology utility” is at risk of losing business to those who do. 

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Making the Move to Inkjet: Now is the Time https://www.theimagingchannel.com/making-the-move-to-inkjet-now-is-the-time/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 14:27:45 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11231 What do Blockbuster, Sears and Kodak have in common? It’s not exactly what you think. There’s a common perception that

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What do Blockbuster, Sears and Kodak have in common? It’s not exactly what you think. There’s a common perception that they never saw it coming, but that’s not entirely true. In different ways, different people in those organizations did see the changes that were coming, and to varying degrees attempted to put programs and solutions in place that would compete with the changing environment. Often, though, it was just too little too late, and for one reason or another those plans ultimately failed. However, it’s not so much that no one saw the writing on the wall; it’s more like the timing was off, and timing, as they say, is everything.

In some ways, color printing has faced similar challenges. It’s been 60 years since the inception of the electrographic photocopier and some 35 years since the first color copier, and yet one thing that remains consistent is the false perception that color print has to be substantially more expensive than monochrome. Inkjet is poised to change that perception, and in fact has been doing just that for the past two years at the cut-sheet production level. State printshops like California’s Office of State Publishing, university and school district in-plants, and commercial print operations focused on transactional billing have begun integrating inkjet into their workflow. In many production facilities, inkjet has become a key piece of technology right alongside digital toner and offset. The demand for color at a penny per page is so great in these environments that most have made seven-figure investments to access affordable color.

The need for affordable color is just as significant at the office level, and word is now beginning to filter to IT departments that inkjet is the reasonable alternative to toner. Many of the major print manufacturers have been doing their part to educate not only corporate IT managers, but all types of schools, non-profit organizations and government buyers about color at one cent per page.

The need to control the perceived over-use of color — often referred to as the “abuse” of color — in the office is such that thousands of dollars are spent on software that prevents or limits the use of color. And yet, this is not necessary. The narrative that color printing is a luxury that must be controlled is false, and inkjet allows that false narrative to be dispelled.

When controlling expenses is more important than ever

We are entering uncertain economic times. Exactly the extent of that uncertainty is something that’s hard to predict as of this writing, but it seems quite likely that, given world events in the spring of 2020, at the very least there is going to be a reduction in spending. Does this mean print will stop entirely? Absolutely not. In fact, there are arguments to be made for the increased importance of printing in areas like public information and nonprofits, which need to reach a population that doesn’t always have access to internet or smartphones. The attention-getting nature of color, useful for marketing and advertising, can be absolutely essential when it comes to sharing important health and safety messages. In these cases it’s not only the medium of print that’s important — although it is — but the color that captures the eye and the interest of the audience, ensuring that they are learning, understanding and paying attention to what in some cases may be lifesaving information.

Print may be important during a public health crisis, but what happens afterward, when life begins to resume as normal, but with an economy still reeling from the effects? The lessons of the Great Recession of 2008-2009 are worth revisiting here, in all their sobering reality. Color printing was on the rise in 2008 prior to the recession, with proclamations of “the year of color” and “color is the future” found everywhere. After? At least one statistic showed that color laser MFP revenue dropped $200 million between 2008 and 2009. It simply wasn’t economically feasible for many companies seeking to rebound.

A big difference between then and now, of course, is the advancements in inkjet technology. In 2010, companies rebounding from the recession were still seeking to control costs, and one of those controls was the previously mentioned restrictions on color printing on the laser devices in place. Inkjet was largely a consumer technology, and although a couple of manufacturers had attempted inroads into the office, success was limited at best. Ten years later, it’s an entirely different landscape. Technology advances in inkjet have eliminated the need for laser’s color-based restrictions and business inkjet is becoming increasingly common. Because of this, organizations that have already made the up-front investment in inkjet devices will be able to continue to print as normal without the cost concerns caused by laser. But they aren’t the only ones who will be able to save money.

Not only do inkjet printers have much lower printing costs than toner-based devices, they also cost less to purchase. While that has long been a big part of their appeal, it may become essential in the near future. Additionally, inkjet devices are less expensive to operate overall, with far fewer parts that can lead to jams and other issues that require servicing. Inkjets don’t require costly consumables like developers, drums and fusers, plus, the lack of heat related to the fusing process makes them more environmentally friendly as well – they generate less heat and don’t increase energy costs nearly as much as laser.

It’s a good time for inkjet

Dealers can choose to embrace the growing demand for inexpensive color and provide their customers with a solution. Or they can go the Blockbuster way and risk having a competitor swoop in and provide affordable color. Remember — Netflix didn’t start off by streaming movies into our homes. It started with the switch in format to DVD. Movies became available in a format that was much lighter than VHS, cost less to mail, and could be dispensed from vending machines like Redbox. In other words, even before streaming existed, other companies were taking advantage of the ability to deliver a similar product in a less expensive format that still delivered what the customer needed.

The market is shifting under our feet and it would be wise to shift with it. Consumers can choose from DVDs or a streaming service based on their needs, desires, consumption styles and budgets. Print is not dissimilar, and inkjet will not wait for dealers to adapt. Toner has, and will continue to, play a key role in printing, but there are different tools for different needs. Marketing departments may rely on color toner devices to generate glossy brochures and shareholder reports. But meanwhile, office staff print a daily stream of holiday calendars, price lists, forms, reports and HR material that end up in a filing cabinet or a recycling bin. Inkjet makes it possible for the staff to add color and the controller to stay on budget. The new decade brings with it unique challenges — unprecedented challenges. However, no challenge is without opportunity. During a crisis, of course, is not the time to capitalize on opportunity — rather it’s a time to be a trusted adviser to customers, to let them know you are available for assistance and advice whenever it is needed. However, business will resume and life will continue and the need to print will still be there. Dealers will then have the opportunity to be part of an increasingly popular hardware trend, one that will capture some much-needed print volume. They can choose to get ahead of it and lead the way or allow the competition to swoop in and take away their customer base. Best to embrace the shift to inkjet instead of hoping it will pass you by and leave you untouched. Don’t be the last Blockbuster standing; be the valued resource that helps customers meet challenges while saving money at the same time.

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Office Hardware Trends in a Work-From-Home World https://www.theimagingchannel.com/office-hardware-trends-work-from-home/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 14:14:48 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11205 On March 4, Workhuman published the results of a survey of 2,613 full-time workers in the United States, which showed

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On March 4, Workhuman published the results of a survey of 2,613 full-time workers in the United States, which showed that only one-third of people in the country currently worked remotely. Oh, what a difference a week or two made. Hard numbers are difficult to come by in a period of rapid change, but there is no doubt that the count of remote workers is growing exponentially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A good indicator, though is, this data from Learnbonds.com that showed downloads for video conferencing platform Zoom increased 1,270% between February 22 and March 22, with a total of more than 17 million downloads – and that’s just data from iOS and Android apps, not including desktop numbers.

What does that mean for the office equipment industry? Well, let’s face it, it probably doesn’t mean a spike in A3 placements and supplies, and it does mean that even the least traditional dealers are going to need to pivot a bit. But there are still opportunities in this strange new world.

Laptops and other personal computing devices

If laptop computers are part of your product line, boy are you in luck. As of mid-March, U.S. companies were scrambling to outfit employees with the necessary tools to allow them to work from home. Despite (or perhaps because of) the growth of the tablet market and the popularity of laptops, many office workers use desktop PCs as their primary devices, leaving IT departments looking for laptops for newly remote workers. Alternatively, many departments were encrypting and provisioning desktops to be used remotely.

In February, IDC released its Personal Computing Devices Market Share forecast, projecting overall Personal Computing Device (PCD, which includes PCs and tablets) shipments to decline at a CAGR of -2.4% over the next three years. Could that projection change at all based on current demand? At least in the short term, it seems the trend could be reversed; NPD’s U.S. B2B Distributor and Reseller Tracking data showed a 30% year-over-year increase in notebook sales in the last week of February and a 50% increase in the first two weeks of March. Dealerships with PC offerings certainly have a window of opportunity.

VoIP phones

A number of offices are also struggling with keeping the phone lines staffed. While many workers either use their personal phones for work or have a company-supplied cell phone, there remain many businesses running on traditional phone systems trying to seamlessly forward customer calls to their employees’ mobile phone lines — with varying degrees of success. One thing that is inevitably lost in that type of solution, however, is the company branding. Calls forwarded to a cell phone and not answered by the employee reach that user’s voicemail and not the company’s. Meanwhile, outgoing calls also display either the user’s number or some variation of “no number” – not the company name, which is not ideal. 

Unified communications is another adjacency many dealers have gotten into recently, and it’s one that, like computer systems, will be in demand for a remote workforce. A voice over IP (VoIP) phone system allows workers to plug a provisioned phone into any network outlet, be reachable at the same number they’ve used in the office (and have that display on outgoing calls) and have unanswered calls roll to the company voicemail. And for a group of employees used to simply dialing an extension to reach each other, generally, that doesn’t change, allowing for some measure of consistency. Many phone systems also have smartphone apps or web clients, allowing the office extension to be used without an actual physical phone attached. It’s a solution that’s invaluable for consistent customer communication.

Scanners

Remember a couple of months ago when the hottest topic in the industry was digital transformation? It’s been pushed down the list at the moment, but it’s still a priority, and when everyone is done merely figuring out how to function again, there will still be the need to scan and store documents in the cloud, in ECM systems, and in any central repository for access by coworkers, wherever they may be. 

There is currently a “lifehack” going around the internet about the ability to scan directly from the iPhone’s camera. Yes, you can do this — you can also scan from any number of apps available on the Apple or Android app stores. But if you need to scan more than a couple of pages a week, that’s going to get really old really quickly. Employees can no longer run to the MFP in the hallway to scan paperwork, and for workers whose jobs involve scanning documents, a small standalone ADF scanner can allow them to continue to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Many things have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but digital transformation efforts don’t need to be. 

A4 laser and inkjet printers and MFPs

Were you wondering if print devices would be included in this list? We’ve all heard “remote employees don’t print,” which is an overgeneralization under normal circumstances — they are usually just less likely to print than office workers if it isn’t absolutely necessary. But right now many of the employees working from home aren’t typical remote employees, and some may have job functions that require printing. Just as with scanning, they can’t simply walk over to the copier and retrieve their documents, and there is a need for alternatives. This, of course, is where smaller SOHO-type offerings come into play. Many of the business inkjet devices on the market can really shine right now, as can simple single-function printers. Or, for the employees with printing and scanning needs, small all-in-one devices can be the perfect solution. 

Shredders

If you’ve got the need for printing and scanning, you probably have the need for shredding. The home garbage is no more secure than the office garbage, and if you have workers dealing with sensitive data, the regulations don’t go out the window just because they’ve moved locations. A shredder may be an absolutely mission-critical piece of hardware.

Monitors and other PC accessories

Monitors, mice and keyboards may not seem to be as critical a buy as some other items on this list — surely most people own them already — and yet NPD reported a nearly 2x increase in monitor sales in the first two weeks of March, along with a 10% increase in mice and keyboard sales and an increase in webcam sales, which had been on the decline. While these are often retail purchases, for those who offer them, it’s certainly an opportunity. They may work best as part of a remote-work bundle.

Bundling

One inventive method for selling hardware we’ve seen recently is bundling devices into a “work from home bundle” or “remote worker’s toolkit.” These bundles may include hardware such as laptops and accessories plus a printer or MFP, as well as remote file access, security software, VPN, monitor, and/or any combination of products and services. It’s a smart way to meet the need to outfit an unprecedented-in-size remote workforce and maintain sales revenue. 

Just the hardware

Clearly there are a number of factors that must be taken into account when transitioning a workforce from a central office to remote locations — often very quickly. Security, in particular, is essential, and any dealer providing services must be able to advise and assist with VPNs, firewalls, encryption and even employee education. However, in the interest of sticking with the theme here, I’ve attempted to touch on some of the hardware trends that dealers can still look to in these unusual times. Will they compensate for lost revenue? No. We’re entering rough waters for sure, and it’s going to take a lot more than a bump in computer sales to manage it. Now is the time to shine as a trusted advisor and let your customers know you’re there for them. Keep the lines of communication open, stay visible by publishing relevant, valuable content on your website, and assist with any pains they may be experiencing, so that when things do return to normal you won’t have fallen off the radar, and remain a valuable and vital part of their business.  

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Four Trends That Shape Print in Today’s On-Demand World https://www.theimagingchannel.com/four-trends-that-shape-print-in-todays-on-demand-world/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 13:18:19 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11229 A few clicks are all it takes to do nearly anything these days. As consumers, we’ve all become accustomed to

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A few clicks are all it takes to do nearly anything these days.

As consumers, we’ve all become accustomed to the convenience and ease of today’s on-demand culture. It was only a matter of time before these desires and expectations for speed, personalization, and quality made their way into the print business. Luckily, new technology is making it possible for the industry to meet those changing customer demands, and in turn, open up new avenues for growth for print service providers. One of the biggest opportunities lies in digital print.
With lead times and print runs getting shorter and workflows becoming more collaborative, digital printing continues to grow in popularity. Why? Because a lot of today’s technology can help providers check a number of boxes: excellent speed and productivity, cost efficiencies, color management, consistent quality, and even energy savings. Plus, there are a number of options to meet varying needs, from lower volume digital printers to more robust high-speed and high-volume options.

To understand how to unlock opportunity with digital print, providers must first understand the key trends that are shaping print. Below are four noteworthy industry and cultural trends:

A shift to shorter production windows and smaller runs

In a world of two-day shipping, customers expect most things yesterday. The trend of quicker turnaround times has been a challenge for many print service providers and has led to the rise in popularity of toner and digital production printers to complement traditional offset operations.
Why the change? In addition to the increase in fast-turn jobs, print providers have also seen an influx in small volume requests that don’t make sense financially for offset production. Digital presses are designed to mimic the quality of offset printing, but offer speed and personalization with a few clicks, making them a resource, and a budget-friendly option, for printers that don’t want to turn away lower volume jobs. Plus many models offer in-line finishing options that an operator would otherwise do by hand.

In the 2019 NAPCO Research study Digital Printing 5.0 survey, print providers reported producing and managing a large number of small jobs and shortening of production times as the biggest workflow pain points. In addition to the digital presses, it is imperative for organizations to have workflow solutions to help users streamline the job submission and preparation process of print orders.

Digital print is a game-changer for a lot of organizations, especially those in the business of printing books, catalogs, and direct mail. The book publishing industry, in particular, has been transformed by new technology that moves production from offset to digital and consequently can help improve efficiency and costs. With high-speed and durability, some digital presses can produce books on demand without sacrificing quality, as well as conduct economic prints of runs down to single copies of books. Digital on-demand printing means organizations print only what they need when they need it, cutting back on wasted time, money and resources.

A convergence of print and digital marketing

There was a time not too long ago when marketers were told that digital channels were the only way to reach their target customers. While digital marketing has unlocked a number of new advertising and promotional opportunities, the assumption that traditional print has lost all value is completely misguided. In fact, a Print For Action survey1 revealed that consumers of all ages use a mix of print and digital channels in their daily routines to gather news, inform purchasing decisions, and communicate with others – among other activities. Some survey respondents admitted to digital fatigue; seven in 10 (69%) of respondents said they find the barrage of digital communications overwhelming, and more than 80% said they just scroll past digital ads when they are online.

Fortunately, marketers have realized the impact of combining print and digital mediums to reach people in creative ways. This modern omnichannel approach opens up new possibilities in which print outputs can be used to drive to digital channels and vice versa.

One example of print and digital working together is interactive print communications that use augmented reality, QR codes, and personalized URLs to direct people to digital information or content. Another is trigger-based printing, a marketing tactic that involves automatically printing and sending targeted direct mail to people when certain actions are triggered online. For instance, if a shopper adds something to their cart but exits without checking out, a company could follow up with a personalized, direct mail coupon to be used to complete the purchase. It’s a powerful convergence of traditional print and modern digital marketing tactics that can drive sales and leans into consumer-centricity.

Whether working with a big-name retailer or a small organization, these success stories underscore the power of print to drive action through memorable, personalized experiences.

A desire for personalization

One of the most interesting aspects of marketing today is how brands can utilize data to personalize a customer experience, and how that personalization drives action. In the Print for Action survey, 30% of Americans found personalization to be a key factor in helping print to stand out. From printed cards to custom signage, people love adding personal sentiments, thus making this a huge trend in the printing industry today.

Still, there are naysayers who don’t feel the effort to customize materials is worth the return on the investment. Realistically, new technology within digital presses has made personalization easy, even for high-volume jobs.

One of the easiest ways that print providers can customize content is through the use of color. For marketing materials like direct mail, color can help capture attention and be used to personalize messages in creative ways – for instance, by matching images or text to images of a customer’s past purchases. Brands can also create color schemes that complement the logo or visual brand identity of a prospective customer help demonstrate synergies. Forty-two percent of Print for Action survey respondents indicated that color was most important in capturing their attention with printed materials.

A focus on sustainable solutions

For print providers to really grow, they must look at macro business trends and align their strategies to meet the demands of the changing culture. One of those trends shaping conversations is increased focus on environmental sustainability.

It may seem counterintuitive to some for the printing business to focus on sustainability, but our industry is innovating to help reduce our environmental footprint. From implementing sustainable forest sourcing certifications for paper to reducing emissions from equipment and consumables, many print manufacturers are developing solutions and processes that are designed to help reduce power usage, consumption, and waste.

In the past, print providers may have treated sustainability as a “nice to have.” Today, it’s a business imperative for long-term viability and success. Beyond our own interests and corporate responsibilities, many customers demand eco-friendly options and want to do business with brands that consider environmental sustainability an important issue.

It’s unlikely that the pace of business will slow down any time soon, meaning print service providers must acclimate to new ways of working in order to stay competitive and meet customer demands. Production print, particularly through digital presses, can offer help with flexibility, efficiency and long-term cost savings – making it an attractive option for commercial and in-house print shops alike. Now is an opportune time for print service providers to collaborate with other print service providers to explore the full suite of production solutions that can help them thrive in today’s dynamic, on-demand economy.


1All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from an Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of Canon U.S.A., Inc. The survey was conducted online in English; fielding from November 27th – 29th, 2018 with a total sample size of 2,010 adults, ages 18 and older from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii. The results were weighted to match the 2016 U.S. census demographic data (including gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income) to help ensure the data is representative of the U.S. population.  This study has a credibility interval of ±2.5 percentage points for all respondents. The following generational breaks were used when examining the data: Gen Z (21 and under), Millennials (22-36), Gen X (37-52), Baby Boomers (53-71), and Silent (72+) with the following sample sizes; Gen Z: 62, Millennials: 537, Gen X: 574, Baby Boomers: 689, Silent: 148.

 

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When Should You Break Up With Your Software Provider? https://www.theimagingchannel.com/when-should-you-break-up-with-your-software-provider/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 12:57:01 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11226 Delivering excellence in office print is complex and challenging. You can have excellent multi-function devices and desktop solutions that print

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Delivering excellence in office print is complex and challenging. You can have excellent multi-function devices and desktop solutions that print in tiered color at 80 pages per minute, collate and staple, scan to cloud, make coffee and do basic tax prep. Your price is competitive and profitable. That’s great, but (and this is a big but) if you don’t have the software solutions in place that will consistently deliver a high-level customer experience, your value and brand will suffer. It’s like selling a Ferrari without a steering wheel or golf clubs without grips. This one element defines how the user will interact with your technology. If it’s not on point, your company and your reputation aren’t on point.

Print management and fleet management software solutions have evolved from a novelty to a “nice to have,” and finally, to essential. As a result, the choices related to which solutions to use have only gotten more diverse. Do I use a third party or OEM-centric solution? Do I go with an established solution or one new to the market? Let me be clear: What I’m not going to do in this article is to tell you which software solutions to use. What I’ll explore is how to know it’s time to make a change and what to look for in a new software partner based on my experiences in both the dealer channel and multiple software providers.

So first, when do you switch? You’ve been with the same provider for years. There are issues, but you don’t want to make a knee-jerk decision. The grass isn’t always greener, right? Also, there will be time and effort associated with making a change. It could involve any or all of the following: installing new hardware, installing new software/agents, getting your team trained adequately, and training your customers. In short, moving to a new software platform will not be simple or easy.

But, in many cases, it is the right move for your company. Here are two simple criteria to consider as you evaluate a change:

Criteria 1: How bad is the pain?

When it comes to the software solutions your business relies on day in and day out, there are different types of pain, and we have to decide when it hurts badly enough to move to a new provider. How much pain is too much?

The first type of pain is the pain of no new features or a lack of innovation and evolution. How aggressive and innovative is your software provider’s roadmap for new features? Do they even have a formal roadmap, or is their product in a prolonged period with few or no significant updates? If your provider isn’t continually working on adding competitive features and enhancements, it’s time to look at other options as their priorities aren’t aligning with yours, and your offering will likely become less relevant with time.

The second type of pain is the lack of adequate support. Does your provider respond quickly and thoroughly to issues and requests? Do your open problems get addressed and remediated promptly? If the answer is no, that’s a major red flag and a signal that you should be actively looking for and vetting alternatives.

On this topic, support is a critical piece in the chain of value you provide to your customers. Yes, your team offers point-of-contact or base-level support for your customers. But if you don’t have support from your software provider that is responsive, competent and reliable, your team’s reputation with your customers will suffer. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If your software provider’s support is weakening the chain that is your value to the customer, you should replace it before it breaks.

The third type of pain is the lack of value. As a rule, the cost of doing business will gradually increase over time — with an emphasis on gradually. Are you receiving frequent price increases without receiving equal value from the product? If so, this could be a sign that the provider is experiencing financial constraints or is otherwise unwilling to reinvest appropriately in the solution. If this is the case, the competitiveness of your offering, as well as your customer’s experience, can slide quickly from relevance to obsolescence.

In all three instances, there are very tangible ramifications for your business if you try to wait out a painful situation. If any combination of these scenarios is present, you should move to a new provider as soon as possible.

Criteria 2: Is there a superior alternative?

When you experience pain associated with software that isn’t updated regularly, has little or no innovation, is inadequately supported, or the value has fallen relative to the price (or all of the above) you should understand the alternatives and if there’s a superior option in the market. In our industry, the software players are by and large known entities, but new offerings emerge as some legacy providers become complacent or have gaps in their portfolio. Some are viable and some are not. When it comes to software providers, how do you identify a superior alternative?

In college and professional sports, good coaching is paramount. Teams looking to fire their current head coach only do so if they feel strongly they can hire a better one. That seems obvious and makes sense on the surface. But what constitutes “better”? With software solutions, the most common approach is to assign the task to someone with the directive to gather information from possible candidates and compare two factors — features and price. Whoever has the best features at the best price wins. That is a mistake. Don’t do this. While these are meaningful and factor into your decision, they are based in the short term and should not be the most important criteria.

What criteria should you use to choose a new software provider? The two I recommend are team and trajectory. In short, look for a provider/team you enjoy working with that is responsive, knowledgeable, and is invested in your success. They should understand your business and align with helping you deliver value to your customer base. A word of caution: Make sure you vet the entire team from leadership to day-to-day support. Basing compatibility on one individual or relationship within an organization is risky for obvious reasons.

A practical evaluation of the team begins with leadership. The leadership or executive team of a prospective software provider must be accessible, collaborative, and visionary. Do they communicate their goals and direction? Do they value your business, and will they take time to express their vision regularly? Are they leading their company toward a clear vision that will continually address the needs of your market? They must understand your market, your customer base, and have a dedicated focus in their space. If not, there is little chance their software will continually evolve in a meaningful way.

In most cases, your company will not interact directly with the leadership team of your software provider on a day to day basis. What are the communication and resolution structures? Do you have a dedicated contact or merely a support email or phone number? Are they responsive? In some cases, you may not know the answer to these questions. Find industry peers that have worked with the provider you’re considering and solicit detailed feedback on the relationship and what the experience was like working with them. If they’re dysfunctional, unresponsive or hard to work with, you’ll hear it from a trusted peer. You need to be as comfortable with the people as you are with their technology because the people drive technology.

As a part of evaluating the team aspect, gain an understanding of their corporate culture. When you look at prospective software partners, insist on meeting at their corporate headquarters and be introduced to as many team members as possible. Find out how long they’ve been at the company and in their roles. It provides excellent insight into turnover, expertise, experience, and team cohesiveness.

Then consider trajectory. Is the arc of their business trending up or down? Are they growing? Are they successfully winning and onboarding new customers similar to your company? Are they losing customers? If so, why? Have they experienced turnover or acquisition that has caused them to plateau or become less relevant? Is their solution evolving at an attractive pace? Does their progression represent an increasing understanding of the market’s business needs?

As a dealer or reseller evaluating a new software provider, the answers to these questions around team and trajectory will be a better guide than merely reviewing a list of features and price. The decision you make in choosing a new software provider not only needs to make sense for today but also for tomorrow and beyond. It can seem like a secondary concern given everything else you do, but these solutions are the steering wheel of the Ferrari or the grip of the golf club. They define and shape the experiences your customers have with your solutions and your company. Take time to make an informed choice.

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Taking a Closer Look at Production Print Trends in 2020 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/taking-a-closer-look-at-production-print-trends-in-2020/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 11:21:31 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11251 The opening year of this century’s third decade has already brought changes that could not possibly have been expected at

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The opening year of this century’s third decade has already brought changes that could not possibly have been expected at the first of the year. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on worldwide business have made us pause and realize that the status quo is a boundary that nature can change at any time. It has also allowed us to recognize that we can be resilient and resourceful in the face of change, searching for solutions that give opportunities to recover and even thrive in a “new normal.”

How does this relate to production print trends? Primarily as an analogy for those in the imaging channel to pause and recognize the changes in status quo to traditional print areas of the industry, and how production print can be a growth opportunity for channel dealers and resellers to survive and thrive in the new normal of the imaging industry.

Digital production print direction

The opportunity in the production print market is found in the continued movement of print from analog offset presses to digital presses. According to Smithers Pira, about 49 trillion A4 production print pages were produced worldwide in 2019, with North America accounting for approximately one-third of the volume, and that annual page volume is expected to remain the same through 2024. The share of those pages produced on digital printers in 2019 was 17% and that is expected to grow to a 21% share by 2024.

Digital print provides a lower cost, more efficient way to produce short-run print jobs and personalized printed pieces. Labor costs and the time-consuming setup process for offset make this type of job expensive for print service providers (PSPs) and their customers. Digital print technology enables commercial printers and in-house print shops to more easily and more profitably meet the on-demand print needs of customers.

Office equipment manufacturers introduced a variety of digital cut-sheet production print devices to introduce dealers and resellers to this production print opportunity some time ago. Today, many of those manufacturers also offer large format, continuous feed, digital label, and digital packaging print equipment to imaging channel dealers.  This reflects the expanding range of opportunities for digital transformation within the traditionally analog commercial and industrial print markets. The transition to digital output in these markets presents new avenues to capture new sources of profitable growth for those dealers willing to participate.

Cut-sheet digital presses

Most imaging channel dealers and resellers have been introduced to the production print opportunity using the cut-sheet digital production printers virtually all OEMs now offer. For entry-level production needs up to high volume commercial and in-house print jobs, the variety of cut-sheet digital production printers has never been more diverse. New, lower-cost devices make it more affordable for dealers yet to enter production print to do so, with lower speed equipment that delivers production level output quality and reliability.

Capabilities of cut-sheet digital production equipment continue to advance. Improvements to media support enable printing on stock up to 450 gsm (grams per square meter) in weight and on sheets up to 51 inches in length. This expands applications that can be produced on this kind of equipment. Some new models are engineered with sensors that can sense the type of media being drawn into the printer to automatically adjust printer settings, or have options that scan pages as they are printed and make adjustments to ensure consistent output quality. New B-size digital printers can print onto media up to 23 by 29.5 inches in size, as well as onto more and different substrates, expanding print applications to include labels, cartons, ID cards, books, and book covers.

Finishing options for folding, slitting, booklet making, saddle stitching and more are available from OEMs and third-party providers. Some new models now have an optional trimmer unit, inline creaser, and slitter options that are integrated with the equipment to allow for more seamless production of gatefold output and full-bleed trimming of output. With these types of finishing options combined with the digital technology that allows variable data printing for personalization of individual pages in high volume jobs, today’s cut-sheet digital production printers are output factories that will continue to migrate page volumes from offset equipment.

Large format and continuous feed

Wide-format digital printers have been available through the imaging channel for some time now. Capable of printing charts, maps, and technical drawings, they offer many more applications, sales and profits than their blueprint ancestors. Manufacturers continue to engineer advances in these digital printers to provide more assortment of widths, higher output quality, and wider substrate capability such as textiles or labels.

Large format digital printers are more than just wide. These digital printers are engineered to print on a variety of media including flexible media on rolls or in sheets, and rigid media such as board or stone. They have the capability to produce large scale prints that can be used for indoor signage, large posters, and banners. Advances in ink (UV, latex, etc.) enable applications such as outdoor signs, textiles, and wall and floor coverings to be printed on these digital printers. Applications are expanded with large scale cutters to cut out printed forms for standup signs or die-cut items are added.

Continuous feed and web type digital print equipment are becoming available to handle transactional, direct mail, and publishing applications. Previously, very high volume opportunities like this have been out of reach for many dealers. As manufacturers begin to roll out more affordable equipment positioned for the smaller niches of these application needs, dealers will find a growing opportunity to add to their print volume.

Digital label and package print

An emerging opportunity exists in digital labels and digital package printing. Expected to grow 9.9% over the next three years, this is another production print market imaging channel dealers and resellers may want to consider.

Labels and packages are everywhere, from goods in a grocery store to labeled packages from your favorite online retailer, or any of a million other items that require some form of labeling. Many large firms, and particularly new cottage industries springing up in the gig economy,  are calling for the ability to print more affordable shorter runs and reduce packaging obsolescence and waste that traditional litho or offset presses find difficult to deliver. For labels and even corrugated folding box containers, the desire for “on the fly” personalized printing is growing. That need alone is driving an almost 26% growth in corrugated box digital package printing through 2022.

The range of digital label and package print equipment, from new tabletop models to larger models for higher volume needs, gives dealers and resellers a variety of ways to enter and grow with the market. Additionally, finishing options that contour cut labels and remove the matrix waste to provide additional sales and service revenue. Digital package print is considered one of the next frontiers of digital printing and, properly positioned, a dealer could find that this frontier holds great promise for their print business.

A side of embellishment and enhancement

An adjacent market opportunity to digital production print, whether printing cut-sheets, large format items, or packaging items, is found in the increasing print embellishment and enhancement space. By 2022, it’s expected the equivalent of 385 billion A4 size sheets will be produced with some form of decorative embellishment. That represents a 10% CAGR from 2017.

Some cut-sheet digital printer manufacturers have offered additional toner (fifth color) stations to use with the traditional four toner stations of CMYK for some time now. The ability to lay down neon, white, clear or custom color toner can enhance a printed piece and make it more valuable to the end consumer.

Advances in equipment that can add varnish to create 2D or 3D effects on a printed piece, whether that piece comes from a cut-sheet (including B-size print), large format or continuous feed digital printers are more affordable. To bring higher value-enhanced print service to in-house print services, tabletop embellishment solutions that can add foil, metallic color, laminate and spot gloss to documents are being introduced. All this new equipment enables imaging channel dealers to more easily add another line of equipment, supplies, and service sales into their business.

Studies have shown that embellished items are 2.5 times more attractive to consumers. Yet only half of marketers are aware that 3D textures and other enhancements can be added to a printed piece to help their product stand out, and 40% of them are not aware that variable embossed foils are possible. Two-thirds of PSPs plan to offer print embellishment to customers, and that embellished print item can be priced at a 39% premium. As PSPs promote these higher-margin items and educate their customers on the value of an embellished print item, an almost perfect storm of demand generation from the consumer to marketer to PSP to dealers will build.

Color, black and white, toner and inkjet

Color remains at the forefront of digital production print equipment sales. Although there is still a need for black and white equipment, new color equipment offerings continue to expand. Some manufacturers are introducing their first color production equipment. Veteran manufacturers in the color production space are expanding offerings with lower speed, lower-cost models and capabilities in higher volume, more costly models. Going forward, expect to see even more growth in color.

In the cut-sheet digital production area, toner is still the most widely used imaging technology. Inkjet drives the equipment used for most continuous feed, large format, and B-size printing. Inkjet and ink technology have evolved to support and print on a wider variety of media than before. As time goes on, manufacturers will look at moving inkjet technology down into lower cost, lower volume, cut-sheet digital equipment. However, toner will continue to be the primary technology used for cut-sheet digital production print for some time.

Summing it up

In a time of slowing growth and pricing pressure in the office market, there are more reasons than ever for imaging channel dealers to pause and think about the changing status quo in the traditional areas of the industry and what kind of opportunities those changes provide. Digital production print certainly provides one of those opportunities. Whether a dealer has only thought about entering that market or is already participating in that market, the new business and growth that production print offers has never been better. After all, talking about print in volumes of hundreds of thousands to millions, or measured in square meter versus pages is an enticing prospect to any dealer.

New equipment models from manufacturers make it more affordable and profitable to enter and thrive in this market. Emerging opportunities like digital label and package printing can expand a dealer’s business in areas not thought possible just a few years back. Adjacent areas of print embellishment and enhancement can help a dealer add more value, revenue and profit to a production print solution by helping customers print more highly valued output. Not every part of the digital production print market is for every imaging channel dealer. However, the trends favor growth in this area. With the right partners, a dealer can reap the rewards of this growth better than ever before.

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Podcast: Q&A With Rick Taylor, CEO, Konica Minolta https://www.theimagingchannel.com/podcast-rick-taylor-konica-minolta/ Tue, 31 Mar 2020 21:38:10 +0000 https://www.theimagingchannel.com/?p=11202 Rick Taylor, CEO of Konica Minolta, joins Patricia Ames and Kevin Craine to talk about managing through a pandemic and

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Rick Taylor, CEO of Konica Minolta, joins Patricia Ames and Kevin Craine to talk about managing through a pandemic and how businesses are rethinking the modern office.

 

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