Earlier this year PrintIT spoke to Peter Silcock, Business Manager for Business Imaging at Epson UK, to find out more about the
company’s plans for 2016. Here we present key extracts. The full interview can be seen on our website at www.printitmag.co.uk
How did Epson perform in 2015 and what were the key growth areas?
Peter Silcock (PS): Epson performed very well, particularly with business inkjets and scanners. We’ve seen growth in business inkjets of the order of 50-60% year-on-year. The higher end of the A3 MFP market is showing considerable growth, but we have located an area just below that, in the £500-£1,000 range, where products such as the WorkForce Pro 8510 and 8590 are developing a new market segment for us. We also launched the WorkForce Pro 6590, a robust A4 multifunction product that can be floorstanding or on the desktop. The beauty of these products is that people are looking to put them onto an MPStype programme; SMEs in particular are interested in products that they can either buy or lease.
What is your primary focus for 2016?
PS: We are investing 50 million euros in business inkjet development; we see that as our key growth area. From research we’ve done, we see that people are now prepared to change from laser to inkjet, with the environmental benefits being a key driver. This year, we are really pushing the inkjet message, the environmental message, and showing how easy and flexible these products are as printers evolve from output devices into document hubs that enable people to do all sorts of other things, like print from their mobile, scan to the cloud – things that they may not have realised they could do in the past.
What new innovations, products and services are you introducing in 2016?
PS: People want to do more with their products – as document hubs, they expect their scanner and their printer to do everything. So we plan to integrate as many services and solutions into our devices as we can. I know this is not particularly new, but we believe we have a technology advantage with our business inkjets – they can save our customers considerable amounts of money and have huge environmental benefits as they use less power and energy.
What do you see as the main challenges facing SMEs and corporates and what is Epson doing to address them?
PS: Print is often viewed purely as a cost, but in fact it is absolutely vital. In a survey we did, 77% of business people across Europe said that print is vital to them and essential to their needs; 27% said that if they weren’t able to print – if printing was banned in the office – they would be substantially less productive. So, printing is really essential, and for more and more SMEs this means being able to print from a laptop, smartphone and other devices as well.
What do you see as the main trends in 2016?
PS: For me, it’s all about ease of use. People are looking Talking print Earlier this year PrintIT spoke to Peter Silcock, Business Manager for Business Imaging at Epson UK, to find out more about the company’s plans for 2016. Here we present key extracts. The full interview can be seen on our website at www.printitmag.co.uk for simple document management type solutions. There’s no point having a complex printer or multifunctional device at the centre of your business. It’s got to be simple and easy to operate. We’ve learned a lot from our consumer products on how to make things easy, for example by having a consistent user interface right across the range. This extends to solutions and being able to buy a ‘click’ for printing.
On that point, do you expect demand for managed print services to grow?
PS: Absolutely. I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. People have the perception that MPS is quite complex, but as they look to outsource more and more of their print I believe demand for MPS will increase. And new technologies will make it easier to deliver. For example, our RIPS products have such large ink capacities that they make things a lot easier for resellers as well as our end users – they don’t have to keep replacing ink cartridges.
Is sustainability still a consideration for customers?
PS: We feel sustainability is absolutely vital. As a Japanese company we take the environment incredibly seriously and sustainability is right at the top of our agenda. We could easily match what other vendors are doing with their products, using several hundred watts of electricity each time you print. But at Epson we like to do things differently, so we have introduced products that instead of using 700 or 800 watts of electricity only use 25-40 watts, even when printing. We don’t necessarily like to do things the easy way; we like to do things that are creative, ingenious. We invest a lot in our technology and our patents (we have 50,000 live patents in Japan) and that determination to do things slightly differently to others is what drives our business.
Security is a growing area of concern. What security features do Epson products have?
PS: Security’s becoming more important. When you have your document hub at the centre of your business, it’s really important to control what people are doing with those printers, for example by using PIN codes to stop people from doing certain things; to stop people just being able to scan anything and send it anywhere. It’s not just about security; it’s actually about control. Businesses want to control what is being done and who is sending what to where. so we are integrating those kinds of features into our products.
How does Epson support the increased demand for mobility in the workplace?
PS: All of us go onto social media with our mobile phones, our laptops, our iPads and other tablet devices, so we recognise how important it is to be able to print from those devices and scan to those devices. You have things like Near Field Communications (NFC), where people just tap their device to print things out, but what’s becoming really important is the speed at which this happens – how long it takes for something to actually come out. This is where we have a technical advantage with our products, as the time to first page is really fast. If someone goes up with their mobile device and it takes half a minute, 60 seconds for something to come out, people will become very frustrated and won’t use it. What’s important is to be able to use NFC and for the documents to come out very quickly.
What are some of the other key USPs of Epson business inkjets and WorkForce Pros?
PS: Because there is so much less technology inside – fewer parts – we can cut the cost of printing quite substantially, by up to 50% compared to laser alternatives. The other key advantage is environmental; the fact that our products produce no heat at all when printing means that printing can start almost straight away, and there is an environmental benefit as well. It also means cartridges and printers last a lot longer.
Is Epson particularly strong in any key verticals?
PS: The major vertical is education where we have a very strong pull not just from print but also from our projector range. We have a 45%-50% market share in the UK for those projectors and we are also very popular for classroom-type printing, as well as back office and shared environments. So education is an obvious area for us to focus on. Recently, we have done a lot of business in back office retail and where people need to print in an environmentally sensitive area, such as a restaurant. People like the ecofriendliness of our products.
Can Epson products be easily integrated with third party solutions?
PS: Yes, they can. It’s an area we have been developing a lot over the last couple of years, particularly with our WorkForce Pro solutions. We are introducing an open architecture so customers can integrate cost control packages into the product itself. What’s important is to do it not just on the high-end products but on A4 desktop devices as well. And we are introducing embedded solutions for a lot of our products, for example Papercut. Embedded solutions are very important to us as they enable customers to control and manage our products and so cut costs.
Are there any awards or accolades that Epson has received recently?
PS: We have won a lot, particularly for our RIPS products. One that I +particularly like is the Outstanding Achievement Award from Buyers Lab. They like the fact that customers can print 75,000 pages without having to replace the ink and they like the environmental aspects. An Outstanding Achievement Award gives us a lot of confidence that we are doing the right thing and that business inkjet is the future. It makes laser printers look almost like dinosaurs in comparison.