Print 2017/2018

Posted on Jan 13 2018 - 11:05am by Editorial Content
RATING

PrintIT asked leading lights from the printer industry for their thoughts on key market trends in 2017 and likely developments in 2018. On pages 19-23 we hear about this year’s highlights. Then, on pages 24-28, our contributors look ahead to the industry developments they expect to see in 2018

What for you was the main trend in print and document management in 2017?

Nick Parkes, regional sales manager, Y Soft

Public Cloud: Particularly in the government and public sector. Segregated buildings are giving way to centralised workplace hubs here a mix of government and public sector bodies (such as health and pension) are working from the same building and sharing print services.

GDPR: With the enforcement date around the corner, there is concern about how the information flowing in and out of print devices is compliant with the regulations.

Security: There has been a heightened awareness of security around network printers and multifunction devices (MFDs). As MFDs are essentially IoT devices that can contain sensitive corporate data through the print, copy and scan functions they enable, they are susceptible to external hack threats. Internally, they must also be protected from inappropriate use. A report issued in 2017 by Quocirca revealed that 61% of organisations have experienced at least one print-related data loss. Organisations cannot be complacent any longer and this is now being taken more seriously.

Chris Strammiello, director, worldwide marketing and global alliances, Nuance Document Imaging Division

Chris Strammiello

Chris Strammiello

What Nuance has seen this year is how the increase in information transmitted between systems, people and organisations has really started to drive the evolution of smart systems designed automatically to understand the content of data. The progress made in this field increasingly gives end users the assurance of knowing that the information they want or need to share is only seen by or sent to people authorised to see it. With GDPR looming and a key talking point in 2017, combining artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing is a logical progression in the context of security.

Colin Griffin, managing director, Blackbox Solutions

The main trend we saw this year was the continued consolidation of multifunction printers and inkjet technology, and heightened competition in the A3 market. MFPs have continued to expand their market share over recent years, as businesses pursue cost efficiencies. The shift to MFPs also means that managed print services have become increasingly viable for SMEs, creating major new opportunities for resellers.

We’ve also seen inkjet continue to go from strength to strength as improvements in the speed, quality and cost efficiency of inkjet printers reduce the demand for conventional laser technology. Roughly 20% of our business clients are now choosing to embrace inkjet technology.

Carlo Longhi, director and general manager, indirect channels UK and Ireland, Xerox

Carlo Longhi

Carlo Longhi

The digitisation trend continued as businesses and organisations looked to move easily between their digital and paper worlds. Managed Print Services (MPS) continued to prove very important in enabling digital transformation, with the growth of apps, the evolving role of the MFP and cloud-based services all supporting this transition.

Mark Smyth, chief operating officer, Vision

2017 has seen considerable market consolidation, with both resellers and OEMs challenging for market share and growth. There has been considerable activity with mergers and acquisitions and some surprises as the market’s larger players look to protect, retain and gain market share.

Gary Tierney, MD Ireland & UKI printing category director, HP

For me, it was the growth of ‘as a service’, which continues to disrupt more and more business models in both consumer and commercial spheres. For instance, HP has long led the managed print services market, and this year it began applying the same approach to its personal systems space with the launch of its ‘device as a service’ (DaaS) offering.

Another example is HP’s subscription printing service, Instant Ink, which was rolled out in a number of European countries this year, including Ireland. Instant Ink has brought an end to customers running out of ink and having to dash to their nearest retailer. Instead their printer detects when it is running out and orders cartridges automatically via the post – all for a low, fxed monthly fee.

Ultimately, this is all part of a bigger trend – the move to ‘everything as a service’.

Jonathan Whitworth, managing director, DSales (UK) Ltd

The explosion in mobile working and the BYOD trend are radically changing the way people manage documents, including printing. That’s why Develop MFDs uncomplicated mobile usability, including the award-winning app ineoPRINT, free to download for Android and iOS devices.

The latest Develop ineo MFDs have a dedicated mobile touch area, enabling users to easily pair their mobile device with ineoPRINT using NFC technology. They can then print documents straight from their smartphone or tablet or scan jobs to their mobile device without using a PC. Customers can also use ineoPRINT to store and manage documents in one place and access popular cloud storage platforms.

Ben Gaston, sales director, Toshiba TEC

The trend towards diversifcation began some time ago but truly came of age in 2017. It is now clear that manufacturers that are unwilling or unable to shift their mindsets away from selling purely in the commoditised world of hardware are beginning to struggle, while those addressing actual business processes and strategic objectives through software, consultancy and non-product led engagements are growing.

Toshiba TEC recognised the need for this transformation when diversifcation was in its infancy but the chatter across the industry suggests that the shift is becoming more universal. Furthermore, businesses that haven’t evolved in this way are reporting a negative impact on their fiscal results.

Shaun Wilkinson, MD, UTAX (UK) Ltd

There is a defnite move for non traditional copier companies to get involved in Managed Print. The IT and consumables suppliers are seeing a decline in consumable revenue so are starting to counter this by partnering with us and having a different conversation with their customers. Handled in the right way, they can move their customers from transactional to contractual.

Phil Jones MBE, managing director, Brother UK

Reducing costs was a key priority for many customers in 2017. Many tightened their belts in reaction to higher import charges, inflating prices and lingering economic uncertainty. As a result, customers’ approach to buying became more sophisticated as they looked to maximise value. This led to an overarching trend, which saw businesses look to do more with less and see a return on investment (ROI) almost immediately.

Jamie Brothwell, print general manager, Exertis

The movement by brands from volume to value. There seems to be a genuine desire for vendors to make money selling hardware rather than relying purely on supplies to deliver a longer term annuity return. This is further confirmed by market data, which suggests that the entry level laser market will all but fail to exist in 5 years, as vendors shift their focus to higher-end printing solutions that yield a greater return on investment. This strategy is welcomed by us, as a distributor, as I am sure it will be by the reseller channel, as selling fewer higher ASP products over low ASP volume is a business model we support.

Michele Mabilia, senior product marketing manager, OKI Systems (UK) Ltd

We are continuing to see the consolidation of printers and MFPs into balanced fleets in the office space, and this was definitely one of the main trends last year. To optimise their investment, businesses are being more mindful about what they need from a printer and where they need it. There’s far more emphasis now on having the right device in the right place big trend for Canon. We’re seeing businesses making big investments to ensure they are secure and compliant. Data must be safeguarded, to avoid substantial fnes, as well as reputation damage. In the wide-format market, we saw customers looking for high quality prints at production speeds.

From a broader document management perspective, we have continued to see growth in the Purchase to Pay (P2P) space. This includes solutions to support digital mail, procurement and invoicing, as well as customer communication. We have also continued to help customers link feld-based and depot-based processes with a centralised management function, with particular success in the hire and construction sector.

Jason Cort, director of product planning and marketing, Sharp Europe

Security has been high on everyone’s agenda in 2017. According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey, almost half (46%) of UK businesses have suffered a cyber-attack in the past 12 months. Businesses are now more aware of possible threats to printer hardware and software, and the vulnerabilities posed by having more connected devices in the workplace, so they want to be sure that their networks are safe. This has been further amplifed by an awareness of GDPR regulations coming into play in May 2018 and the realisation that there need to be more robust protocols in place to avoid signifcant fnancial penalties.

What was the highlight for your company in 2017?

Nick Parkes, regional sales manager, Y Soft

Y Soft recently moved hardware manufacturing to a larger facility. Our YSoft SafeQ print management platform has optional hardware components, including ID card readers for verifying a user’s identity at the MFD and payment machines for schools and businesses who charge for print services. The larger facility allows us to produce these products in larger volumes. We also upgraded our manufacturing equipment, which allows us to produce even higher quality products. The ongoing and increasing success of YSoft SafeQ, particularly our most recent and well received version, YSoft SafeQ 6, means we have to ensure our hardware volumes can keep up.

Chris Strammiello, director, worldwide marketing and global alliances, Nuance Document Imaging Division

Nuance enjoyed several industry ‘highs’ in 2017. We announced worldwide strategic partnerships with Epson and Lexmark to distribute and resell our document imaging solutions. Ingram Micro Inc. named Nuance ‘Emerging Vendor of the Year’, celebrating the increasing demand and brand awareness within the IT channel for Nuance’s Imaging solutions. In the annual International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) technology survey, Nuance’s offce productivity software for use in legal frms retained its leadership position in multiple categories. Finally, leading IT market research and advisory frm IDC named Nuance its 2016 market share leader among global device and print management vendors.

Colin Griffin, managing director, Blackbox Solutions

Colin Griffin

Colin Griffin

We have had a longstanding partnership with Samsung as a managed print services provider, and with the sale of Samsung’s document solutions division to HP, fnalised in early November, we have been busy establishing a relationship with our new contacts at HP. While we’ll be sad to see the back of the fantastic and supportive team at Samsung, we’re looking forward to working with HP and bringing its innovative devices and cutting-edge technology to market in the very near future. HP will have the strongest A3 printer portfolio on the market, so we’re very excited to be partnering with a global leader in document solutions.

Carlo Longhi, director and general manager, indirect channels UK and Ireland, Xerox

2017 has been a milestone year for Xerox – from our separation into two independent publicly traded companies on January 1st through to the biggest product launch in the company’s history (ConnectKey) just a few months later. We reinforced our commitment to our channel partners being a pillar of our growth strategy and continued to evolve our partner value proposition to enable this.

Mark Smyth, chief operating offcer, Vision

The highlight of 2017 for Vision was the formation of an exciting new partnership with HP. We have invested considerable time and focus in 2017 going through a transition and on-boarding with our new partners.

The digitisation trend continued in 2017, as businesses sought to eradicate paper from their processes

The digitisation trend continued in 2017, as businesses sought to eradicate paper from their processes

Gary Tierney, MD Ireland & UKI printing category director, HP HP being positioned as a leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Security Solutions and Services Hardcopy 2017 Vendor Assessment. It is the culmination of a huge amount of innovation and effort across HP to become a genuine leader in security. A signifcant part of this journey was the acquisition of Samsung’s print business, which took place this year, and the launch of a whole new portfolio of highly secure devices to disrupt the A3 copier market.

Jonathan Whitworth, managing director, DSales (UK) Ltd

Our move to the purpose-built Business Hub near Halifax, providing 15,000 square feet of space, was our 2017 highlight. It provides room for larger offces, a premier showroom, technical training, a PDI centre for setting up and customising machines prior to delivery and a marketing department. There is also a warehouse allowing us to hold stock of Develop consumables and machines, instead of using third party warehousing.

An additional highlight was the promotion of Huddersfeld Town from the Championship into the Premier League. Develop is the Club’s Offcial Imaging Partner and we were at Wembley to cheer on ‘The Terriers’ in the play-off fnal.

Ben Gaston, sales director, Toshiba TEC

2017 was a very positive year for Toshiba TEC, so singling out just one highlight is diffcult. The sheer number of new organisations that have placed their faith in our ability to solve their business problems is highly encouraging, as is the way in which we have expanded our business services portfolio to enable us to fnd solutions to our customers’ organisational challenges.

Although there is much to feel optimistic about, I’m particularly delighted with the number of talented individuals that we have attracted into the business from a range of diverse skillsets and backgrounds. It means that we fnish the year on a high and are better prepared than ever to help our customers make signifcant improvements to their operations throughout 2018 and beyond.

Shaun Wilkinson, MD, UTAX (UK) Ltd

There were many highlights, with partners winning more than their fair share of business, but what was particularly satisfying was our success in attracting new customers, both from within and outside the traditional copier channel. These are partners who are looking to have different conversations with their customers and gain long-term relationships.

Phil Jones MBE, managing director, Brother UK

We won two stand out awards this year, which recognised the hard work we’ve put into making Brother UK an enjoyable, successful and rewarding place to work. In April, we were crowned Employer of the Year in the North West Business Masters Awards, and in November we received a Princess Royal Training Award, recognising the strength of our learning and development programme. It’s the people behind our business that make it a success, so accolades like these are especially rewarding.

Jamie Brothwell, print general manager, Exertis

Jamie Brothwell

Jamie Brothwell

Continued growth in our printing business despite market decline. Following a hugely successful year in 2016, when we established our specialist print office in Norfolk, we enjoyed further growth in 2017 of over 40%.

Michele Mabilia, senior product marketing manager, OKI Systems (UK) Ltd

This was the year that OKI consolidated its leading position in the A3 colour market space. At the end of last year, we launched our C8 range of small, ultra-compact A3 colour printers. Because of their small footprint and affordability, they can be used in a normal offce, or anywhere where space is at a premium, both for back offce printing and for producing professional-quality product leaflets, brochures, banners and shelf-edge labels in-house. This functionality is combined with reliability and ease of use, making it simple and cost-effective for businesses to bring most or all of their marketing printing in-house.

Pete Pearce, product & applications marketing manager, Canon UK

In 2017 we launched a revolutionary new UVgel technology, developed for wide-format graphics. We have seen the demand for wide format graphic applications expand rapidly and whereas in the past graphic producers have had to compromise when it comes to speed, quality and media choice, the UVgel technology delivers high quality printing without compromising on productivity. We are proud to be offering graphics businesses the optimum balance of quality, automation, application range and operating cost.

Jason Cort, director of product planning and marketing, Sharp Europe

Sharp has made some major our overall business, with the deal to acquire Midshire in the UK being an obvious highlight for us. We have also seen a rapid expansion of our Visual Solutions business through our office equipment channel, namely our digital signage and interactive whiteboard products, proving there is a clear market demand for integrated solutions.

Eric Crump, director of strategic alliances, Ringdale

Eric Crump

Eric Crump

This year (2017) marked the 20th anniversary of the invention and introduction of Ringdale’s FollowMe to the industry. Over that time, our solutions have enabled customers to transform their output environments, ensuring they are secure, compliant and enable roaming printing, which improves user productivity. This year, FollowMe was recognised with a Platinum solution rating from Buyers Laboratory (BLI) and received BLI’s 2017 ‘Pick Award’ for Outstanding Data Loss Prevention Solution. FollowMe continues to lead and evolve through customer feedback to enable workplace transformation and allow organisations to stay focused on their core business operations.

What do you think will be the key trend in the printer/document management market next year (2018)?

Nick Parkes, regional sales manager, Y Soft

As a technology company, I should probably respond with some kind of technology-related product. I think we will continue to see innovations and demand in the product area, particularly cloud-based solutions, but GDPR will remain a focus for many customers.

Chris Strammiello, director, worldwide marketing and global alliances, Nuance Document Imaging Division

An increased interest in security is going be spurred by GDPR. It will be the talking point of 2018, as organisations realise the enormity of their responsibilities – and the amount of organisational change required – if they’re to successfully honour the requirements of GDPR and avoid eye-watering fnes. In anticipation of this, we’re already talking with print device manufacturers, channel partners and customers to ease the transition to this new GDPR environment from an imaging perspective. Intelligent Print Management solutions will become an increasing part of the secure print narrative as a measure against potential GDPR infractions.

Colin Griffin, managing director, Blackbox Solutions

Increased cyber threats will see data and document security become vital growth areas during 2018. With the impending introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations in May, businesses will be required to ensure that their security is robust in order to avoid costly fnes – not to mention reputational damage.

We’ll see businesses investing in improved procedures to protect documents and ensure they are collected by the right person. Solutions include devices with document control, such as having employees swipe their ID badge or enter a username and password in order to retrieve sensitive documents from a printer.

Carlo Longhi, director and general manager, indirect channels UK and Ireland, Xerox

We should expect to see a surge in demand for apps within the print industry. Channel partners are recognising apps as the ideal solution to address customers’ pain points and as a way to provide personalised print services and connect to SMBs’ core business infrastructures. Apps are light, simple and very specifc, which means they are easy to build – we can expect to see a larger breadth of apps available for the end-user in 2018. Mobility and security will be key areas of focus, as will addressing the challenge of GDPR compliance.

Mark Smyth, chief operating officer, Vision

2018 will be a year of further consolidation in our market, with both resellers and vendors looking to protect and grow their market positions. There will also e fnancial challenges for some vendors and resellers, as Brexit negotiations and the process of exiting the EU continue. Amongst our customers, the adoption of Digital Transformation and ways to support and improve security will accelerate as businesses look to become more effcient and drive down cost through automation of manual processes.

Gary Tierney, MD Ireland & UKI printing category director, HP

Gary Tierney

Gary Tierney

The workplace is being transformed from a stodgy, cubical land into a stylish, open-plan environment. The modern offce now offers agile workspaces for individual productivity, informal meeting areas for co-creation and interactive conference rooms for collaborative meetings with colleagues working remotely etc..

With all these changes, many of which rely on an increasing range of technology (some of which belongs to the employee), security will play a more prominent role in IT purchase decision-making, including printers.

The role of print in the digital path of work-life will continue to be redefned, with growing recognition of the importance of print as a communication tool and a driver of information sharing and effciency in businesses.

Jonathan Whitworth, managing director, DSales (UK) Ltd

The need for compliance with the new General Data Protection Regulations is focusing attention on the need for data security. The risk of print devices being used as an entry point for hacking, malware and ransomware is a very real threat. Yet print as part of the IT infrastructure is often overlooked.

To deal with the threat to device based company data, Develop has launched an industry-leading security service, known as ineo SECURE UK, offered exclusively by authorised Develop resellers. Highly trained professionals will configure the security features of Develop devices, either prior to installation or at the user’s premises, customised to the individual user’s requirements.

Ben Gaston, sales director, Toshiba TEC

Ben Gaston

Ben Gaston

Diversification will continue to be the number one trend in 2018, as the industry is yet to reach the end of this transformative journey.

As time goes on, we will see clearer demarcation between two different and opposing ways of operating. There will be those that are progressive and prepared to diversify their offering and approach – shifting their sales dynamic to ‘help’ rather than ‘sell’. However, others will stubbornly stick to what they know, with a focus on shipping and servicing hardware. The latter will continue to struggle in a commoditised space as their differentiators are diminished, while the former will continue to expand their customer bases.

Shaun Wilkinson, MD, UTAX (UK) Ltd

Printed paper will continue to be at the centre of business activity, but, as ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the impact it has on business confidence continues, organisations will be looking to take control of costs while optimising workflows. This opens doors for print and document management solutions that enhance, streamline and digitise processes and ensure control. Cost management through rules-based printing will be key. Successful print resellers will be those who truly solve the problems of their customers and grow consultancy-based sales.

Phil Jones MBE, managing director, Brother UK

Technology that can reduce reliance on paper, like this Brother scanner, will help businesses improve the efficiency of their processes

Technology that can reduce reliance on paper, like this Brother scanner, will help businesses improve the efficiency of their processes

Customers continuing to demand greater ROI may spark the return of ‘cold tech’. This trend frst started in the early 2000s, when there was a demand for technology that provided a rapid return on investment (ROI) within the same fnancial year, delivering immediate impact on the bottom line. The re-emergence of this trend may contribute towards an uptake in managed print services. This involves leasing printers, so customers get systems that can be refreshed every few years with new models that offer the latest productivity gains.

Jamie Brothwell, print general manager, Exertis

Further consolidation. Last year I predicted that we would see consolidation within the print market and sure enough this is exactly what happened, with the headline acquisitions of HP/Samsung in the vendor world and Apogee/Danwood in the reseller channel. I believe we will see more consolidation as we move into 2018, with further brand and reseller collaboration as the market declines and conditions become more competitive.

Michele Mabilia, senior product marketing manager, OKI Systems (UK) Ltd

Driven by the imminent enforcement of GDPR and the thought of heavy fnes for noncompliance, data protection will be one of the top business concerns next year. As a result, businesses will be paying attention to print security more than ever, with an increasing number developing print security strategies. The knock-on effect here will be an increasing demand for methods of digitising documents and a growing number will adopt a more digital workflow.

Pete Pearce, product & applications marketing manager, Canon UK

Security will continue to be a huge focus as businesses are beginning to acknowledge that printer security and robust document management protocols are key elements in the wider security ecosystem. Employees also expect access to cloud storage and mobile print capabilities as standard, meaning connectivity will also need attention.

From a Canon perspective, we will continue to grow our P2P offering, supporting businesses through digital transformation. We are also broadening the ability for customers to benefit from a Canon solution by continuing our shift to SaaS and Cloud services. This will offer customers real choice, spanning traditional ownership, access to services in the Cloud and the ability to abdicate processes to Canon in a fully outsourced and managed service.

Jason Cort, director of product planning and marketing, Sharp Europe

Consolidation in the printer industry continued, notably with HP's acquisition of the Samsung printer business.  In the UK, Sharp acquired office solutions supplier Midshire

Consolidation in the printer industry continued, notably with HP’s acquisition of the Samsung printer business. In the UK, Sharp acquired office solutions supplier Midshire

Undoubtedly, compliance standards, particularly GDPR, will be a big driver for sales of document management systems in Europe. As a consequence, we could see the digitisation of paperbased documents into workflows greatly accelerated and even less inclination for people to print. Businesses will increasingly demand affordable and simple solutions for protecting their information and vendors that can offer a holistic perspective on IT security, not just from a hardware point of view.

Eric Crump, director of strategic alliances, Ringdale

There will be a continued focus on security through 2018. Compliance concerns will take a front seat with the looming GDPR deadline taking effect in May, when it is estimated that less than 25% of organisations will be ready. Dealers will have to align their strategies to meet the security and compliance needs of customers, especially as most are not ready to consult around compliance matters, while printer vendors will focus much of their efforts on ensuring their output devices meet similar security standards as other vendors claiming to already have the highest security.

What do you think will be the main technological innovations in 2018?

Nick Parkes, regional sales manager, Y Soft

Nick Parkes

Nick Parkes

We’ll see more data-related innovations that use AI to monitor and respond to security threats and ways to reduce infrastructure costs, such as better cloud-based solutions.

Chris Strammiello, director, worldwide marketing and global alliances, Nuance Document Imaging Division

AI is a technology that has started to touch many applications, and it frmly established itself as a hot topic in 2017. Its ?ame is far from burning out though, and in 2018 and in the context of print and imaging solutions, we’ll see how it is evolving to radically change how paper and born-digital documents are securely accessed and shared to help protect personal information and other valuable data. Outside of AI, from an effciency perspective, the growing dependency on data analytics means businesses will start to apply a forensic approach to print costs to reduce them further.

Colin Griffin, managing director, Blackbox Solutions

Advances in biometric authentication, using fngerprint scans to release print jobs, offer considerable time and security advantages, ensuring printed documents don’t get into the wrong hands. With GDPR, the onus will shift to frms to ensure that their document security protocols are robust and we expect to see widespread use of innovative new security features and technologies coming on-stream next year. The market for A3 devices will see increased competition, as HP aims to disrupt the market with new A3 offerings based on its PageWide technology, following its acquisition of Samsung’s print arm.

Carlo Longhi, director and general manager, indirect channels UK and Ireland, Xerox

We know that 40% of staff time is spent dealing with admin tasks and that 80% of document processes still rely on paper (IDC). 2018 will see an acceleration of customers looking to adopt some form of workflow technology to improve productivity and efficiencies. The personalisation of productivity functions will be a key opportunity. We will also see an acceleration of the ‘3rd platform’ (IDC) – the interdependence between data analytics, social media, cloud and mobile devices. Security will continue to be an important requirement. Enabling partners to build their own applications to increase sales and enter new markets will be key and the Xerox ConnectKey products will provide partners with the platform to lock in to these opportunities. In the high-end print arena we are focused on investing in the print industry’s high-growth areas, such as inkjet, packaging and high value application segments. Our legacy for innovation is based on bringing real-life, tangible and deliverable solutions to the benefit of our print customers. We are committed to continuing this tradition.

Mark Smyth, chief operating officer, Vision

I believe security and digital transformation will be a continued focus and theme in our market in 2018 as businesses look to avoid the risk and impact of security breaches in line with GDPR, combined with the on-going drive for effciency and cost reduction.

Gary Tierney, MD Ireland & UKI printing category director, HP

The vision of a world where almost anything (from clothes to food) can be 3D printed seems less and less far-fetched, with an increasing level of media attention covering the latest technological breakthroughs in this field.

The first thing 3D printing will seriously disrupt, however, will be supply chains – something we’ll see more of in 2018. Industrial 3D printers are now at a level where they can effciently print component parts or materials. Why would a car manufacturer wait a month for a new engine part made half way around the world, when they could 3D print it onsite in the factory that needs it?

Sustainability will become more crucial to businesses. No longer will CSR be an optional extra but an integral part of a corporation’s long-term planning to ensure they retain the goodwill and loyalty of customers, who have come to see it as a key factor in their decision making.

Jonathan Whitworth, managing director, DSales (UK) Ltd

Work?ow solutions continue to be an important part of document imaging, so Develop has produced a unique range of document management solutions to meet the needs of customers. For example, the latest version of Develop’s easy-to-use convert+share software brings new functionality and new capabilities to everyday tasks. convert+share does away with manual document processes by allowing original documents to be scanned on a Develop MFP and automatically converted to many different fle types that can then be sent straight from the device to a number of destinations.

Ben Gaston, sales director, Toshiba TEC

Far-reaching innovations, such as artifcial intelligence (AI), are unfolding in virtually every technology sector around the globe, continuing to change the way consumers, businesses and machines interact, while spurring on the next revolution in technology growth.

There will be continued expansion of AI into data and document-focused processes in order to automate repetitive tasks, glean intelligence from these tasks to inform business decisions, and remove burden from skilled workers so that they can more actively participate in the development of their businesses. Toshiba TEC enjoyed some major success in this area during 2017 and the more we apply dynamic, self-learning AI to our innovations, the more we have found our customers being given new freedom to be creative in support of their operational objectives.

Shaun Wilkinson, MD, UTAX (UK) Ltd

The end-user’s drive towards complete solutions over one-off product purchases continues to grow, largely driven by customer demands for enhanced flexibility and their desire to beneft from new technologies. This is resulting in the potential of MFPs being realised and their full functionality being utilised, especially via the use of dedicated apps. Successful partners are those that offer holistic solutions that provide integration between workplace IT, developing technologies (such as the cloud) and new ways of working, including BYOD. Partners will need to be adept at implementing and managing the issues that follow in areas including digital workflows and security, which will be a major talking point given the GDPR compliance deadline in May and ongoing headline-making data breaches.

Phil Jones MBE, managing director, Brother UK

Phil Jones MBE, managing director of Brother UK, said: “Investors in People estimates that only 0.05% of businesses could achieve platinum status

Phil Jones MBE, managing director of Brother UK,

Artifcial intelligence (AI) is already being utilised by businesses in the form of automated software, which drives machine learning. We’ve seen a proliferation of this in customer support and audit environments, and this will be bolstered following the Chancellor’s commitment in the Autumn Budget to invest millions in the UK’s AI capabilities. As the technology continues to mature and become increasingly sophisticated, more processes will be automated. It is smart investments in this type of AI that can deliver real results for businesses in 2018.

Jamie Brothwell, print general manager, Exertis

With huge advancements in the BYOD culture born out of home and remote working policies, I believe there will be a greater need to accommodate users to enable printing on demand in multiple environments, both in a working and social environment. As a distributor we must work with our partners to understand new innovations and provide appropriate solutions.

Michele Mabilia, senior product marketing manager, OKI Systems (UK) Ltd

Further moves forward in print and data security, with enhanced software solutions to help protect the data flow.

Pete Pearce, product & applications marketing manager, Canon UK

Pete Pearce

Pete Pearce

In the wide-format and graphic arts market, LED curing will become even more widespread as mercury vapour lamps are nearing the end of their life due to a change in European legislation. The pace of change in the print industry is fast and there are numerous opportunities for growth. One avenue is book publishing, which digital printing is having a signifcant impact on.

Jason Cort, director of product planning and marketing, Sharp Europe

We can expect to see the continued development of AI in document management, for example, in accelerated work?ow processing, content search and data extraction. The real innovation will lie in how AI and connected devices are applied together in the working environment to create intelligent virtual and physical offices. Sharp has an R&D office dedicated to exploring how a combination of AI and IoT, which we call AIoT, can connect and control office devices and systems to save you time. In Japan, we are starting to see the first prototypes and concepts from this.

Eric Crump, director of strategic alliances, Ringdale

Technology continues to move at an extremely fast pace, and we are seeing artificial intelligence and robotics starting to influence the output management space. Less well known technologies, such as quantum computing, are quickly becoming hot topics, although it is unlikely that quantum computing will be featured in any output management product or solution any time soon.

About the Author