Rethinking Print Management for Small Businesses

There’s one industry that COVID-19 has redefined forever — cafes and restaurants. (Yes, this is a print/IT article, don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this!)

Before 2020, when you went out to eat and/or drink, a waiter took your order and delivered your food. But due to the pandemic, that first part of their job was taken over by QR codes. Now, you take a seat, scan the code with your smartphone, pop in your order and the waiter just delivers your meal/drink then collects the dishes.

For these small businesses, that monumental change was simple to make. The technology was around long before the pandemic, but it took the necessity of responding to a global health crisis for that switch to happen.

That same paradigm shift – see, told you I was going somewhere with this – is happening with cloud services and print management for small businesses.

In terms of cloud-enabled working in the IT space, Deloitte reported last year a Logic Monitor survey that recorded 87% of global IT decision-makers agree the pandemic will lead to accelerated migration to cloud services, leading to a decline in on-premise workloads by 2025. This was the same forecast Quocirca delivered in the Global Print 2025 Report.

COVID-19 simply appears to have brought forward that 2025 deadline.

What does COVID-19 mean for print management services in the cloud?

Let’s say you have 100 customers and 40% of them are running a lot of their IT infrastructure on-premise. When it comes to print management, what should you do with this customer base? Ignore them — they’re not ready for print management in the cloud.

Well, don’t completely ignore them. Rather, let them know that they can manage their print management in the cloud when they’re ready to make the change. But let them work through their cloud transition in other areas of the business (documents, ordering, accounting, and so on) and then worry about their printing.

If they’re already under a lease for an on-premise solution and if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. You don’t need to disrupt their workflow by asking them if they’re ready to move to the cloud.

And if they aren’t under lease and also aren’t already using print management software, gauge their cloud readiness before opening up the cloud printing conversation.

When it comes to the other 60% of prospects, you want to be laser-focused on ensuring you’re matching the right solution to the right print environment. There’s no one-size-fits-all print management service. It’s the same for cloud print management solutions. The correct product depends on each business’s needs. Don’t look at the shining lure of the cloud if the solution you’re searching for isn’t currently scalable for enterprise.

For 2021, don’t worry about enterprise and workplaces with on-prem set-ups for print management. Instead, you want to focus on a niche group within your portfolio that you previously haven’t thought too much about — small to medium businesses that are well-positioned for a cloud solution.

A couple of devices may not feel worth the effort, but for the next few months and years, it is the “greenfield” space of cloud print management services.

Small to medium businesses already in the cloud is the defining opportunity for 2021

Workplaces this size don’t need the complexity of an on-prem print management solution. In fact, their very size may be the reason why they haven’t delved into print management — print servers and IT resources just weren’t a sustainable business cost. But a cloud-native (not cloud-added) SaaS print management solution — next to the likes of Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 — isn’t an overwhelming expense.

Workplaces with a simple set up will be best catered to by cloud-native print management services that are up and running, but still maturing. With the SMB market, you can grow a solid base of customers trialing print management in the cloud and then use them as your advocates when cloud-native solutions have matured and become more feature-rich.

Like the cafes and restaurants that have been able to streamline their ordering process, 2021 presents an opportunity for a realm of business that until recently felt out of reach with print management. Now even a humble workplace with a small number of devices can reap the benefits of print management (tracking, reporting) thanks to the accelerated uptake of cloud print management solutions.

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Kieron Byatt is a tech journalist at PaperCut Software

Kieron Byatt

Kieron Byatt is a tech journalist at PaperCut Software