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DataMaster Covid Update – Phase 2, Part Two: future business trends

19 June 2020

Global emergencies press the fast-forward button on historical changes, and in the imaging world this means saying a final goodbye to high print volumes in the office market.  Such processes that remained paper-based (invoice authorization, order processing, drafting) have been forced onto pdfs on the cloud, so they could function with the team working from home.
 
In Part One, we mentioned that the manufacturing brands are using this time to get complex messages across to dealers, particularly in the webinars they are running.  The printer manufacturers have been diversifying for years; making up for declining office print volumes.  Well, now volumes have jumped off a cliff, and they are highlighting their software solutions, IT service provision and communication systems through videos and downloadable webinars.  They want their existing dealers to follow suit, to help their end customers to securize homeworkers and improve their efficiency.  We could all see this creeping in, slowly but inexorably.  This is what dealers have to do now, if they haven’t already.  
 
The Xerox Future of Work Survey of 600 companies in North America and Europe found that 72% of businesses were not ready to work from home, surprise, surprise.  Actually, that the figure is only 72% really is a surprise: no one was ready for this.  Most managed to run with it in a couple of days, but hardly anyone is doing it securely and efficiently yet.  You can help.  Working from home is here to stay, at least in part.  
 
The Xerox survey respondents said their top concerns are remote IT support (35%), that their workflow solutions are inadequate (27%), that they lack serious communications and teamworking collaboration tools (22%) and that they do not have proper cloud-based solutions (10%). 
 
Here at DataMaster we process a lot of data.  Our reading of the Xerox survey, taking into account uncertainty and error propagation, leads us to conclude that 100% of respondents have no idea what the future holds.  Still, some of the trends identified are interesting, taken with a pinch of salt.

85% of business leaders also missed the accessibility and ease of use of their office printers, with U.S. respondents missing them the most (93%) followed by Germany (92%) and France (91%).  Yay!  
 
It is time to help small businesses to benefit from modern document management too.  Print brands and content management providers have already conquered big business and the public sector verticals and are using the global crisis to ramp up their market penetration.  Local dealerships will now find that their small local business partners need consultancy on doing the same.  Let’s democratize business process management!  If you do not have the skills in-house to help the high street and your local garage move to secure cloud-based document management, find a distance-learning college student who can!  Their parents will thank you for it.
 
Audit teams goal was always to centralize printing into larger, more efficient, workgroup multifunctions.  Forget that idea.  Homeworkers need intelligent A4 machines running software to connect their scanner to company workflows.  If and when they do set foot back in the office, the focus is going to be on mitigating risk of infection.  They are not going to want to all touch the same copier interface.  HR and Risk Management is not going to want them to either.  This is an opportunity for contactless, RFID pull-printing; and also for dealers to sell A4i machines – personal or small-team machines with the software platforms and the features hitherto mostly only seen on SRA3 machines.  
 
Don’t panic

Do the math.  Per-box margins will shrink, but box-shift volumes will compensate.  However, per-page billing is not likely to work as well as it did.  Time to bite the bullet and charge per scan too and bundle print with some other document processing volumes.  

Let us know how you get on.

Stay safe!  
 

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