Quocirca’s 2022 Industry Executive Study reveals the range of challenges that the print industry faces to increase relevance in a rapidly evolving market. Falling office print volumes along with the acceleration of digitisation demands that all industry players adapt their service offerings for the cloud-enabled hybrid work era.
Strong recognition of the need for change
Quocirca’s latest study reveals that more than nine in ten respondents believe the print industry must undergo significant restructuring to meet the needs of customers by 2025. The rapid changes to the market demand that suppliers move with them and evolve their offering to meet key customer priorities such as cloud print, security, and broader collaborative technologies.
Fostering an innovative culture will be integral to succeeding in this endeavour, however 68% of respondents still feel this is a significant challenge.
The biggest challenge identified by respondents is pivoting to a services-led model and shifting away from the product-centric approach that has characterised the market. Now, 71% say it is the primary challenge they face, up from 61% who said the same in 2021. This was an issue identified long before the pandemic, but urgency has increased as it becomes clear that the world will not return to its pre-pandemic state.
On that note, more than three quarters of respondents believe office print volumes will never recover to pre-pandemic levels. Rapid digitisation to overcome work-from-home limitations has accelerated the shift away from hard copy documents in the office setting. Home print volumes, however, are predicted to grow, with 58% expecting to see a rise between now and 2025.
New concerns on the agenda: talent shortages and online competition loom large
The print industry has been as susceptible as many others to the ‘great resignation’. As employees re-evaluate their working lives and priorities many have opted to leave the industry, while new entrants are being increasingly selective in the types of business they want to work for.
Among respondents, 62% say they are struggling to attract new employees, with 51% finding it difficult to create a successful management and leadership team. Both these figures are strong increases on the same findings a year ago, showing a worsening situation from a recruitment perspective and aligning with the broader economic picture in many regions. The risk for the industry is that, without talented, energetic, and innovative employees in place, adapting to new business models will remain problematic.
Those new business models are already up against significant competition, especially from the channel perspective. Online marketplaces have continued to encroach on the B2B tech market and 36% of respondents are very or somewhat concerned about how cloud marketplaces impact them. A small but confident cohort of 15% plans to capitalise on marketplace growth, while a quarter are not concerned.
Security, cloud services and digitisation remain key areas
Industry players must identify the areas that are important to customers and devise solutions and services to support them. More than three quarters (79%) believe print security solutions are key to future success, and 67% say cloud print management and services will be key. A similar proportion (65%) say document capture and workflow services are important and just under 60% see a move to include managed IT services as a useful direction to take.
Service-based customer relationships are seen as the strongest, with 86% of respondents saying that MPS providers will have the strongest customer relationships by 2025. This is followed by IT Services providers (77%). However, only 18% of those we asked felt that MPS providers would manage to successfully shift to a managed IT services model, indicating that the market is vulnerable to incursion from existing managed IT services providers offering print as part of broader IT provision.
Next steps for the industry
The industry will have to work hard in the short- to mid-term to ensure it is positioned for long-term relevance and success. Of immediate urgency is the need to plug the skills gap and this may be better achieved through alliances and acquisitions than by an attempt to tempt skilled personnel from their current positions.
The industry must also work on developing offerings across the key areas identified of cloud, security and collaboration, as well as devising more solutions to support hybrid and remote work environments.
Over the course of the past 5 studies with industry executives, our research has shown that the sector is resilient, innovative and determined to rise to the challenge. Thank you to all the industry executives who took the time to share their views during this critical period.
Study note: Quocirca ran an online survey across a range of industry executives from print manufacturers, ISVs, channel partners, MPS providers, systems integrators and service providers. As sample sizes for each of these groups were small, this report focuses on reporting at a high level, based on all responses.
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