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Sharp Europe MFP and print predictions 2020

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Libor Píška)

MFP and Print technology is evolving, but how will such changes impact on your business? Jason Cort, Director of Product Planning and Marketing, looks at the trends in document printing solutions set to gather pace throughout 2020 and beyond.

As we look to the start of a new decade, we find that print and multifunctional printers (MFPs), still have a major role to play regardless the size of your business. It has been suggested that print will still be necessary in 64 per cent of businesses in 2025.

However, things are changing. As the MFP becomes an integral part of your digital transformation, there are trends businesses need to understand and adopt into their operations.

Here we take a look at the key print solution trends for 2020:

Making the most of serverless printing

We predict that in 2020 the adoption of serverless printing will continue to increase due to rising demands in cloud-based infrastructure, as opposed to that of on-premise. However, network bandwidth is not unlimited, and printing via the cloud has the potential to drain this resource quickly.

That said, the trend to remove on-premise infrastructure makes serverless printing an attractive alternative, retaining secure printing capabilities without the need for servers or cloud.

Managing the cost of print within any business will always be important. That is why we’re continuing to see the move to cloud-based solutions – they offer versatility as well as cost savings. Adoption of cloud usage will continue to rise, with more businesses of all sizes making the move to secure cloud environments, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure.  Moving to the cloud is also allowing businesses of any size to utilise big data analytics and AI services, giving them greater business insights and helping them make better decisions.

MFP cybersecurity for SMBs is vital in 2020

As awareness of cybersecurity grows, we expect to see SMBs continue opting for fewer suppliers – not more – and the onus will be on current suppliers to provide a guarantee of security on top of their service. For example, businesses are increasingly looking to source connected MFPs from their IT suppliers and gain a more unified approach to infrastructure security. This is simpler and business leaders feel safer in the knowledge that suppliers already have the expertise and technology to protect them.

As print solutions within SMBs become ever more connected, we continue to see MFPs becoming digital hubs rather than standalone devices; for example, the need to understand, implement and maintain security has never been more topical. While the understanding of cybersecurity is on the rise, there are still a significant number of small to medium sized businesses that need to take up the mantle. Too many think “it won’t happen to me, I’m too small”, which is dangerous and naïve. Cybercrime must be taken seriously at every level and even more so in the SMB community, where business owners should be doing everything in their power to ensure customer data and digital assets are safe.

Environmental concerns are on the Rise

One of the major trends we have seen go mainstream this year is that of the environment. 2019 has been a big year for environmental awareness and accountability and it is clear that this movement will really gain momentum in 2020. So much so, that Climate Strike has been named 2019 word of the year by Collins Dictionary.

As environmental issues become even more prominent, every industry’s environmental policies will be subject to change. Organisational and cultural change takes time in the corporate world, though as suppliers we must think one step ahead about what our clients will require from us.

The print industry must consider the EU’s legislative approach and how we can contribute to an organisation’s environmental objectives, such as a the Circular Economy approach to product design, which involves the use of recycled materials for manufacturing and the reuse and collection of consumables. 

However, this kind of change needs to be made at the beginning of a product’s life-cycle, not as an afterthought. Furthermore, as the number of Millennials and Generation Z represent an ever increasing proportion of the work force, purchasing from environmentally and socially responsible businesses carries greater weight.  This requires both operational and cultural change for suppliers, which takes time to become truly embedded.

Future technologies will centre around IoT

5G is a big buzzword at the moment in every sector. While businesses and the public speculate on the future applications for 5G, the real conversation for printing has not yet started. Although 5G connectivity will be available as a consumer standard by 2020, it is a complicated and long road before we see adoption of any significance in print.

We expect that 5G could eventually replace fixed line broadband, guaranteeing offices access to faster and more secure connections – but any impact on print will not be felt for a few years yet.

Where Enterprise and SMBs are starting to see an impact – and one which will only grow over the coming five to 10 years – is that of IoT. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have stepped away from simply being buzzwords and are having a genuine impact in the digital transformation of many businesses. Where we will see growth initially is in the Managed Print Services area. Such providers have a wealth of experience providing cost-effective and tailored solutions, and IoT is one area we expect to see continued growth.

Jason Cort, Director of Product Planning and Marketing, Sharp Europe