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8 Evolving Printing Trends in 2018

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The buzzword in offices around the world over the past few years have been 'we are going paperless'. Unfortunately for the vast majority of businesses who have said that repeatedly in the past 3-5 years it has not quite materialised.
Far from being a dying industry, printing is a mission-critical function, even though many innovations and initiatives are moving away from physical printing, the business is ready to evolve along with them.

Managed Print Services (MPS)

This is a fast-growing printing trend for small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) where technology and cloud-based solutions are part of the service provided, and this ever-increasing trend has created a new marketplace for solution providers.
Recent trends in office related printing have seen the shift toward multifunctional machines and inkjet technology. 3-in-1 devices save time, money and also frees up more office space.

The Generation Gap

Millenials are driving significant changes in the workplace. With almost 50% of the global workforce now they will account for around 75% by 2025. Millenials are more familiar with working on digital devices, simply put they work differently to the older generation who prefer traditional methods that are paper related.

This is something that is common to most business owners in 2018, but it is not as simple as eliminating your entire printing policy and expect everybody to switch without issues occurring. Training is a must when you have a diverse set of staff of different generations. In the meantime you find yourself having to cater to both.

Multifunction Vs. Single Function

Multifunction printers (MFPs)
This trend came to the fore in 2016 when global shipments of MFP's eclipsed single-function printers. As we speak the gap between the two are widening making it a straightforward decision for businesses that cannot be paperless to go with a device that is a printer, scanner, copier and fax machine. As the business world becomes more competitive, businesses focus on cost efficiency as more management of printing fleets come into play

Inkjet Printer Vs. Laser Printer

For many years now laser printing has dominated the office scene, on average less than 10% of office printing in western countries is being done using an inkjet printer using Ink cartridges.
But inkjet technology is evolving and in leaps and bounds in speed and quality, add to this that it is more cost effective than laser printing (especially in suppliers, power and repairs).
HP and Epson are pushing the boundaries with inkjet technology in the belief that SME's will find it more suitable cost-wise especially in the start-up phase. So we can expect to see Inkjet printers making somewhat of a comeback and taking a more significant share of the market by 2020.


A3 Market Competition

The A3 market is estimated globally at US$55 billion per year.
Inevitably that comes with significant competition and recently it has been getting intense. HP gate crashed and disrupted the market last year with a new twist on PageWide its inkjet technology. A3 played a significant role in HP's US$1.05 billion deal to acquire Samsung's printer business in the 4th quarter of last year. Although they stole a march on the competition, the competition has been busy themselves. Take Canon for instance, they unveiled new A3 third-generation ImageRunner printers, and Xerox followed suit launching multiple new A3 machines.

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Managed Print Services Growing for SMBs

Managed print services (MPS) are companies that evaluate and propose printing management for a business to help control usage and cost, make printing more efficient and provide cloud-based technologies. This has created a new arena for management software companies that leaves businesses with many options right now. As more MPS providers arise it is creating higher competition and resulting in lower pricing while opening the door to various industries in need of the assistance they provide

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MPS Providers Expand Their Sights

The growing trend this year and next with MPS is they are becoming full-service. Traditionally a MPS would manage your print solutions, which was of course, useful to any business, but now we see a branch out from tradition. They are becoming more affiliated and involved with their customers, covering their IT landscape too.
This trend has many SME business owners looking at MPS in a very different light as managing just print solutions, although in itself a pivotal role, compare it with managing a company's entire IT landscape makes them invaluable to the business.

Document Security

Document security seems like it should be relatively simple and straightforward, it must ensure that the correct person or business receives the correct document. However, making sure you have the best and tightest software is key. As we go digital, we must ensure that there are no breaches in document distribution, such as a classified document fell into the wrong hands for example. We tend to see this happen when companies are looking to consolidate their printing fleets. So new solutions have come along for added and bolstered security such as personal swipe ID and passwords, with all data being back-up in the cloud where it is retrievable even if deleted or lost.


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Conclusion
In September of last year, we saw HP announce the deal to acquire Samsung's printing business for US$1.05, the industry as a whole is now shifting to the realisation that this will be the beginning of many more collaborations and combinations in the printer space industry as it continues to take-on rapid and significant changes. It looks very lightly that there will be a consolidation of the number of providers in the marketplace but what will be left will be intense competition, creating ever more ground-breaking software solutions coupled with a price-war to gain customers. All this is good news if you are an SME looking to work alongside an MPS.

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Author: Edi Dominic Ifediri

Best described as a geek with a mixture of skills in drawing comics, Content-Writing, Computing and Mobile technology, this was due to his passion for Arts and Sciences since the age of 14 that he kicked off with the mobile web. He is the Founder/Chief-Editor at EdiTweaks which had almost been noticed as one of Nigeria's Best Tech blogs
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