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Epson’s bold ambitions to disrupt the office printing market

Epson’s bold ambitions to disrupt the office printing market

November 17, 2022
Articles, Future of work, Sustainability

Epson has reinforced its sustainability commitments in the print industry, setting out bold ambitions to disrupt the traditional A3 office printing market with a new range of office inkjet MFPs. Based on its piezo Heat-Free inkjet technology, Epson’s new WorkForce Enterprise MFPs offer improved performance, reliability and energy efficiency. They also provide Epson with a complete office print portfolio from small workgroup to large departmental devices.

Withdrawing from the laser market

A year after announcing its ¥100 billion investment into sustainable innovation, Epson has announced it will end the global sale and distribution of laser printers by 2026, citing the greater potential of inkjet to make meaningful advances in sustainability.

Laser and inkjet print technology work very differently. Laser requires heat to fuse toner to a page and uses more consumable parts than inkjet technology.

Epson is now fully committed to its piezo Heat-Free inkjet technology that uses no heat in the ink ejection process and so delivers lower power consumption than laser printing which requires heat to fuse toner to a page and uses more consumable parts.

Inkjet acceptance in the office

Today, the office printing space is dominated by laser-based MFP devices. However, the sustainability benefits and improved performance and print quality of inkjet is helping it gain more acceptance in the office.

Quocirca’s Future of Work 2025 study showed that 25% of organisations across the US and Europe have already adopted inkjet printing, rising to 32% among midmarket organisations (500-999 employees). Overall, a further 32% plan to adopt inkjet printing by 2025.

One factor that will help drive acceptance of inkjet technology in the office is the increased priority that organisations are placing on procuring sustainable technology.

When it comes to printing, Quocirca’s Sustainability Trends study showed that 53% of organisations have already deployed energy efficient IT equipment with a further 30% planning to do so in the next 12 months. Further, 89% of IT decision makers said it was very or extremely important that print suppliers provide sustainable products and services.

Epson’s WorkForce Enterprise range

The benefits of reduced waste, minimal intervention, affordability and low energy consumption have already helped Epson gain traction in the office printing space.

Building on this success, Epson is now targeting the colour A3 MFP market. While this is a contracting market, Epson views it as a significant opportunity. Organisations are replacing existing technology, particularly as a result of print infrastructure modernisation to support the hybrid and distributed workplace.

Epson’s new WorkForce Enterprise AM-Series offers speeds of 40-60 ppm, extending Epson’s business inkjet portfolio. This enables it to deliver a full range of products, from small workgroup MFPs through to high-speed departmental devices.

The range offers some notable technical innovations that improve reliability and performance while reducing service interventions. These include a shorter paper path to avoid paper jams, a new hydraulic ink system that optimises ink usage, and high yield ink cartridges. This reduces material usage, shipping, storage and end of use consumables management, as well as reducing downtime for routine maintenance.

With the new range, Epson has also overcome the issues often associated with inkjet – such as ink drying out – with a new moisturising liquid tank and intelligent ink flushing.

From a security perspective, the new range supports access control, document protection, data protection and device protection. The latter includes firmware signature verification, secure boot and malware runtime intrusion detection.

Enhanced solutions platform

Epson has also expanded its solutions support. This encompasses both Epson proprietary solutions and third party solutions, including PaperCut, MyQ and Y Soft. Its new version of Epson Print Admin offers new advanced workflow integration to support document capture, and embedded OCR functionality that  supports the creation of searchable PDF files across 29 languages.

Epson Print Performance MPS programme

As Epson sells 100% through the channel, it has designed the new WorkForce Enterprise portfolio to drive profitability for both the IT channel and traditional copier dealers. Epson has a strong focus on developing contractual business and large contracts with its Epson Print Performance programme. This supports a range of flexible billing models, depending on the reseller requirement, with different models for ink replenishment and service delivery.

 Epson’s optimisation tool

To support its channel and illustrate the benefits of moving to inkjet technology, Epson’s optimisation tool provides a customised analysis of an organisation’s printer fleet, comparing the current fleet with Epson’s Heat-Free value proposition. This includes consumables handling comparisons, productivity and cost savings and energy usage measurement.

Quocirca opinion

Epson is well positioned to level the playing field in the office printing market with the launch of its new Enterprise WorkForce product range.

In addition to the environmental benefits of its Heat-Free technology, the improved performance and reliability, robust security features, and enhanced document workflow integration make this product range a good fit for organisations looking to refresh and modernise their printer fleet with sustainability in mind.

For Epson, this range will also help it address a much broader market which has in the past been limited to distributed or smaller workgroup environments where inkjets may be deployed in branch or satellite offices. It now has the portfolio to extend its customer footprint into centralised office and HW locations.

However, Epson’s success ultimately depends on the acceptance of inkjet technology and influencing decisions around its adoption in the office. It will need to continue to educate the market and dispel the consumer perceptions of laser printing being superior in speed and quality to inkjet technology.

Quocirca’s brand perception research shows that Epson built a strong brand presence among IT decision makers, particularly as a sustainability leader. This will be an important factor in Epson driving adoption and demonstrating the business value of its office inkjet technology.

The best advocates for inkjet adoption will be Epson’s existing customers and channel. In particular, the channel will be key to success. Epson’s new MPS programme not only increases the profitability for partners when selling the new range under MPS, but also offers a comprehensive solutions platform to enable channel partners to create new software enabled revenue opportunities.

Pursuing a declining market with new technology requires innovation and strong differentiation to create competitive advantage. While Epson has a significant opportunity to redefine the future of office printing, traditional competitors have a strong legacy to protect. They too are reshaping their strategies to defend their market position.

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