by Kim Beswick | 5/19/14

Imagine the thrill of heart-thumping roller-coaster ride and compare it to the agony of a slow traffic jam. Connect for a few moments with the thrill, the adrenaline rush of “fasssst” vs. the red-faced frustration of things that are “slowwww.” The fact is, speed (or the lack of it) drives an incredible range of emotions and human chemical brain reactions. It makes our lives thrilling or frustrating and promises to ease the simplest of life/work tasks or thwart our best laid plans.

In the world of technology new value is often based on improved performance. Many of us have experienced the transition from a 3G to a 4G phone network or a faster data pipe into our home or office network.  We all have stories of a slow connection while traveling when we can’t get the data we want or send the urgent message we want.  Who’s been to a large tradeshow in Las Vegas, only to find your data connection SLOWWWW?  Processor speed, operating system performance, data connection speed, network speed, overall device and system performance drives us to run to the latest technology store and upgrade our devices and infrastructure even before our IT organizations authorize it.  

Despite all the evidence that “fast is good” and “slow is bad,” in technology at least, there seems to be a certain immunity to speed messages as they apply to the office printing space.  Why do messages like “60 ppm color pages on the desktop,” “72 ppm color engine speed,” “… the fastest desktop printer in the world” – not get much attention?  The fact is, these should be exciting messages to the office, but instead they hardly raise an eyebrow. Do we not get it?  Do we not believe it?  Can we not imagine it?

The fact is, speed is an experience, and not a specification.  The problem is we have created an industry culture where in most instances the experience we have created regarding speed is negative.  Typical office ink printers that say 30 ppm print at 10ppm.  Color lasers that say 20 ppm come with woefully slow processors and first have to come out of sleep mode to even print!  Good luck getting that 20 ppm!    We’ve taught end users, especially small business and home office consumers,  that there’s the engine speed spec and then there is the real-life actual speed.  We’ve taught office workgroup and enterprise customers to walk to the fast machines and place them far away, making speed irrelevant.  When we see a speed spec … ho-hum, we ignore it.

As Memjet and other page-wide ink technologies come online, we have an opportunity to turn the experience regarding print speed inside out and upside down and to actually impress our end users.  In our own research the impact of seeing a video or in-person demo of a 60-ppm device increases the purchase intent of a customer by 10-20 percent when viewing fast monochrome pages (@60ppm) and double that when viewing fast color pages (@60ppm).  These shifts are even greater in small businesses, which are heavily influenced by changes in performance.  

We see this play out in our marketing execution and in our sales processes.  Not only is there a “wow” factor to experiencing speed, more importantly the experience catalyzes the imagination of the business users who now visualize immediately the difference it could make to their work lives.  Not only are they excited about the speed of output, but about the idea of desktop proximity, quick start up times, no warm up times, no walk times and an entire end-to-end experience that will improve their productivity.   Customers suddenly see speed as addictive.  Like transitioning from the highway to surface streets in our car, once you’ve experienced “fast”, everything else seems exceedingly slow.  

I’ve heard industry experts say that speed isn’t valued by the industry.  In the current context that might be true, until they see it in action.  In our fast-moving world we all need more speed, because it makes us more productive.  It saves our bacon when we are in a hurry, and that is an experience we can all connect to and value, even in the office printing business.

Kim Beswick is one of the founding members of Memjet and brings 28 years of technology experience and 20 years of printing and imaging experience to the Memjet company. Beswick’s printing and imaging experience includes 12 years at Hewlett-Packard managing future product programs and global strategies, launching new products and managing product lines for HP’s LaserJet business. Today she leads the Memjet Office business and works with Memjet’s global partners to optimize Memjet’s disruptive technology in the office sector.  She is a vocal proponent of change and new thinking in the office printing market.