Printer technology is changing at a fast pace. Today’s printers can vary from simple and inexpensive to state-of-the-art devices that are equipped with the latest technologies and features.
The various sectors of the printer market are broadly moving in a similar direction, with an emphasis on supporting secure mobile printing, enhanced sustainability capabilities and ever greater focus on return on investment.
But depending on the industry, the sales channel and end user, specific trends within each sector of the printer market can vary – for example, 3D printers being an absolute hit at the moment.
However, in my opinion, it is in the business printer sector that some of the most exciting developments are likely to take place.
I have, therefore, set out below my top three predictions for trends to watch in 2016:
- Managed Print Services (MPS) for small organisations – The concept of managed print services has been around for a while. It has traditionally been targeted to large companies and corporations with multiple divisions, large IT infrastructure and substantial annual print volumes. But we have recently started to see a true shift of unmanaged small fleets into full service contracts, and rightly so. Why shouldn’t small businesses benefit from the cost savings, peace of mind and full back up that a large service provider can offer? MPS has many other benefits including the variety and simplicity of packages on offer including fully managed, mixed deployment, and pay-per-use services. In addition, advances in the technology used in personal printers mean that such devices now come with features that are similar to those of departmental printers, and can be easily managed and monitored (such as the recently launched Ricoh SP 4520DN which is equipped with a touch panel and works with print release software for secure printing).
- Growth of Business InkJet – Inkjet technology has often been associated with expensive printing. It might be down to the fact that most inkjet devices used to be sold to home users, offered slow print speeds and rather average print quality (apart from photo printers). This has begun to change in the last couple of years, and according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) figures cited by Print.IT, the UK market in Q1 2015 registered 21.6% increase in business inkjets, with A3 models up 83.6%. Once again, advances in technology have made it possible to develop fast, economical and eco-friendly machines. At Ricoh we have been providing our GelJet technology to businesses for years.
- Smart and Mobile users – In 2016 the mobile device market is predicted to reach 2.6 billion with smart phones and tablet PCs set to continue to outshine other phones and PCs. All around us, people are pinching, tapping and flicking. The trend is touch. With all that in mind, customers want to be able to use smart devices to connect to their printers. They also want the familiar “iPad” style interface which provides a more intuitive interaction than keyboards. This trend is very much linked to customer experience being one of the priorities when using technology. According to Gartner, “business sees customer experience innovation as the next frontier, and half of all consumer goods product investments are likely to be directed toward improving the customer experience”.