- In addition to providing cost savings, cloud-based offerings can be accessed remotely—which is a huge plus in today’s pandemic times!
- When cybersecurity is mentioned, most people tend to think of computers and networks. Even so, cybersecurity also covers a company’s print infrastructure, including print devices in remote work environments.
- Mobile hardware and applications, business process automation solutions, and artificial intelligence are also expected to see relatively high levels of investment in the year ahead.
By Christine Dunne
Customers’ print requirements are changing all the time, and print vendors that hope to remain successful in tomorrow’s market must identify and meet these evolving needs. To develop an understanding of the types of print solutions that your customers or colleagues may be seeking, start by determining the technologies they are most interested in investing in. According to recent research from Keypoint Intelligence, the top investment areas for IT decision-makers in the United States include cloud-based solutions and cybersecurity.
Figure 1. Future Areas of Investment
N = 302 IT Decision-Makers and Influencers in the United States
Source: US IT Decision-Maker Office Survey; Keypoint Intelligence 2020
Let’s explore how your business can leverage the cloud and cybersecurity to better meet your customers’ ever-changing print requirements.
Right now, you might be wondering—does the interest in cloud-based software really apply to my business? The answer is likely yes! Vendors of print software solutions can frequently benefit from offering cloud-based solutions to customers who choose not to host on-premises. Keypoint Intelligence’s research shows that 39% of firms with 250+ employees are investing in business-level cloud-based software. Although investment rates are lower among smaller businesses, the truth is that these small firms might be highly receptive to cloud-based solutions that don’t require expensive upfront costs.
Cloud-based software solutions exist for print device management, output management, print analytics, print security, color management, web-to-print, mobile print, and much more. Although some of these solutions are quite comprehensive, others are fairly narrow in focus. In addition to providing cost savings, these cloud offerings can be accessed remotely—which is a huge plus in today’s pandemic times! In addition, many can be purchased on a month-to-month basis and scaled up or down depending on a firm’s needs.
This interest in cloud-based software might also have implications for your employees. For example, if employees can only use certain systems while they are physically at your headquarters or in satellite offices, they can be quite hindered from a productivity and flexibility standpoint. By contrast, cloud-based solutions can be accessed anytime and anywhere.
Cybersecurity is another area that is top of mind for many firms. According to Keypoint Intelligence’s research of IT decision-makers, firms with 1 to 24 employees (36%) and 25 to 249 employees (34%) are particularly focused on this trend. While people tend to think of computers and networks when cybersecurity is mentioned, it also covers a company’s print infrastructure—including print devices in remote work environments.
Indeed, many of today’s print devices have hard drives and Internet connectivity that can make them targets of hackers. Businesses must continue educating customers on these vulnerabilities as well as solutions for these threats. These include printer security features like:
- User authentication capabilities
- Hard drive protection, including data encryption, data overwrite, and end-of-lease data wiping
- System operating system protection
- System BIO protection
- Anti-malware protection
- SIEM system integration
Implementing organizational-wide security policies that include print as well as training workers on secure practices are other ways customers can ensure comprehensive cybersecurity. For those print companies offering cloud-based solutions, it’s important that these solutions have a zero-trust security architecture that supports the reauthentication and encryption of every connection and interaction (as each is assumed malicious).
This summer, Keypoint Intelligence will be conducting a Market Insights/PaceSetter study on print security to determine the print vendors (in both the office and production space) that lead the market in terms of security. HP and Konica Minolta were deemed winners in the most recently completed study, but this was only focused on the office market.
Other Investment Areas
Our research also shows that mobile hardware and applications, business process automation solutions, and artificial intelligence are expected to see relatively high levels of investment in the year ahead. When developing and marketing products and services, print vendors should attempt to align their activities with these attractive areas of the market. Some questions to consider include:
- How can mobile device/remote users interact with my product or service (in a secure way)?
- How can more automation be built into print and scan activities to help free up customers for other tasks?
- How can mobile/remote support, automation, and artificial intelligence be used to better serve customers in the areas of technology servicing, payment options, and customized product offers?
Finally, ask yourself how print companies might leverage these technologies for their own workers. If they are already using emerging technologies in their own organizations, they can make life easier for their employees and speak more knowledgeably to customers about these solutions.
The Bottom Line
There are many IT areas that today’s businesses would be well-advised to invest in. That said, it appears that cloud-based software, cybersecurity, and mobile hardware like laptops and tablets are some of the most popular choices. While print companies may not necessarily be focused on these offerings, they can certainly intersect with their areas of specialty. By enhancing their products to capitalize on the trends, or improving customer service or operational processes to do so, print vendors can help cement their relevance for customers and employees.
Christine Dunne is a Consulting Editor for Keypoint Intelligence’s Office Technology & Services Group. Her responsibilities include responding to client inquiries, conducting market research and analysis, and providing coverage of industry events. Ms. Dunne has written extensively about search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.