As the new year gets underway, we catch up with Armin Alt, Managing Director, DACH, and Kevin McNally, UK & Ireland Sales Director, to get their views on some of the managed print trends that will shape 2022.
1. Copy/print sustainability and environmental impact
For those in the UK, Glasgow’s COP 26 event is still very fresh in our minds. But organisers are already preparing for November’s COP 27 in Egypt. With environmental concerns and climate change firmly embedded in the minds of the global business community, expect sustainability and the ability to demonstrate climate-friendly printing, copying and document management to remain centre stage this year.
Dealers and MPS providers can help their clients in this regard with solutions that can assess and optimise CO2 emissions and power consumption — and present the data in environmental status reports.
2. Continued cloud adoption and long-term hybrid working
If they haven’t already done so, 2022 is the year that dealers and MPS providers should make every effort to get their cloud-based services onto the leading cloud marketplaces and ecosystems. Consider AWS, Oracle, Microsoft Azure and Salesforce as starting points.
COVID-driven work-from-home directives across Europe mean that more companies than ever have some form of cloud-based infrastructure in place — allowing employees to work safely and efficiently outside of traditional office environments. This has evolved into long-term hybrid working patterns that will need to be supported by cloud-based print management solutions.
Continued cloud adoption also means businesses are freed from the day-to-day stresses of managing on-premises infrastructure, and they’ll be expecting their copy/print management solutions to keep pace with the change.
For that reason, one of the biggest challenges for dealers and MPS providers this year will be to understand how far along their customers are on their cloud adoption journey — and support their dynamically changing mix of on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure.
3. Zero-trust print security
If there’s one security-related term that dealers and MPS providers will have to learn this year, it’s zero-trust. When everyone worked in an office, it was easy to manage print (and wider IT) security based on IP addresses. You could literally pull up a drawbridge on an IT network and say everything inside is OK and everything outside is untrusted.
But homeworking made this untenable as businesses could no longer distinguish what’s inside and outside their network. The only option is to trust nothing. Hence the mainstream adoption of zero-trust and identity-based security.
Zero-trust and identity-based security will significantly impact how businesses implement their copy/print policies. Last year, Microsoft launched Managed Print for Azure AD users, pushing a cloud-only, identity-based print solution for organisations. Expect to see more of the same from other global tech vendors this year. We’d also envisage that there will be more MPS providers offering integration with these services or developing their own stand-alone equivalents. In addition, we’d expect dealers to offer more consultancy services to help end-users navigate installation and management.
4. Data analysis, business analytics and process optimisation
It’s been said many times that data is the new gold — and this year, it’s particularly true for the copy/print sector. 2022 is the year that dealers and MPS providers should redouble their efforts to turn the metadata generated by their print devices into additional revenue and intelligence.
Analysing this data can help dealers keep pace with demand for product and service innovations. It can demonstrate how customers use their hardware and inform the design of new offerings to match their requirements. Understanding customer data and predicting future usage trends can also help dealers be more proactive and efficient in delivering toners and other consumables and planning servicing schedules.
5. More managed IT services from dealers and MPS providers
Dealers and MPS providers are usually deeply integrated into their client’s IT infrastructure and systems. This gives them a solid foundation to develop a broader portfolio of products, services, and software solutions — either by themselves or in partnership with established managed service providers.
However, we’d sound a note of caution here. Dealer and MPS provider success in this area will depend on their expertise in security, cloud-based deployments, automation capabilities and cloud competency. But if this can be achieved, 2022 will be the year that more of each enter this lucrative market.