PrintIT recently asked a number of leading print vendors about developments in the print market and how their product portfolios are evolving to meet changing needs. Here, we present edited extracts from the videos. The interviews can be seen in full on our website, www.printitmag.co.uk. Next month, we will publish part two, featuring an in-depth interview with Peter Silcock, Business Manager for Business Imaging, Epson UK.
Phil Jones, managing director, Brother UK
What do you see as the main challenges facing SMEs and corporates?
To use a military acronym I came across a little while ago, the main challenge I continue to see is VUCA. The world has become very Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Every time I use that term everyone goes ‘Yes, that’s it; that’s how my life feels’. The other one is that the sheer volume, variety and velocity of change going on around us is making it really diffiult to know what to focus on, how to adapt and how to make the right choices quickly for your longterm business survival.
How is Brother helping to address these challenges?
By coming up with really good proposals that wrap a product up into a service so customers don’t have to think about it quite so much. Better to use your thinking time and your brain time on the things that are really demanding your attention and outsource the things that are more bread and butter about your organisation to a company like us so that we can take care of it for you.
What are some of the key selling points of Brother and its products?
The key selling point, I believe, is that we are a listening organisation. Quite often, there’s a perception that vendors don’t listen. But we are a listening organisation, and we are a highly flxible organisation, all the way through our supply chain back to our factory. We’ve won large pieces of business because somebody needed something to be changed within a product. We can make those changes; we can work on those changes and we can get software updates done quickly. Equally, we’ve been able to deliver services with a very high degree of flxibility. I think this is one of the really big advantages we have in the marketplace – our ability to change and flx very dynamically to changing customer environments.
Does Brother’s range cover all print, scan and copy requirements?
Brother printers, scanners and copiers are primarily produced for a decentralised printing environment; that’s our core area of expertise. We look to go into businesses that have been centralised and decentralise them, because what we often find is that there will be a lot of pain points associated with centralisation – long queues, devices being tied up etc.. In our experience, a distributed print environment delivers a lot more benefit for smaller workgroups.
Do you think that customers today want a supplier to provide a broad range of products and solutions?
For me, it’s not breadth of portfolio that people are asking for. What they are really saying is ‘Please provide us with stuff that’s reliable, where we understand how the pricing works, that’s not too complex and which meets a pain point’. You don’t need a product range 50 items wide if fie products will do. I’m a great believer in keeping things simple. What I have seen, though, is customers requiring fewer suppliers. That’s for sure, and that’s a real incentive for vendors and channel partners to make sure we can provide a range of managed services to customers so they don’t need to buy from too many people.
Are there any product areas Brother is diversifying into?
For a couple of years, Brother has been quietly diversifying behind the scenes, so much so that I wonder whether people actually know who Brother is nowadays. In particular, our services business has been growing really, really well. Part of that is what we call Brother as a Service, or Print as a Service, where large system houses or managed services specialists outsource elements of print for us to deliver to large end users on their behalf. In addition, we have a developing web conferencing business. As businesses start to decentralise or have more mobile workers, they need secure effective ways to communicate and we’ve got a really strong product capability in this area.
Rob Brown, Head of Key Accounts, OKI Systems UK
What do you see as the main challenges facing SMEs and corporates?
One of the biggest issues they face is visibility over what they’ve got – costing and control. A recent survey we did with 150 decision-makers in the SME market shows that there is a distinct lack of awareness of how they use their print devices and the costs involved. This is where things like managed print services (MPS) come in.
What do you think will be some of the key challenges in print and document management in 2016?
One of the key things will be implementing mobile print. Most business people utilise some form of mobile phone or tablet. These technologies have been around for a while but integration into some businesses has been quite slow. In our survey, the majority of people – 50 or 60% – still didn’t have any way to print from their devices. So there are challenges relating to the implementation of mobile solutions and things like cloud printing and compatibility with Google Docs. Another challenge is how to get more out of your MFPs. OKI’s smart MFPs have an open architecture that allows you to run a number of different applications from the device and do a lot in terms of workflow. Digitisation of documents is becoming more and more key, and people will start to implement that more, coupled with managed print, which gives more control over the entire solution.
Is sustainability still a consideration for customers?
Yes, definitely. We are always being asked what out corporate social responsibilities are and, as a global manufacturer, we have a very high level of CSR – everything from how we manufacture our products and reduce the amount of raw materials we use to how we recycle our products. We offer a free recycling scheme to all of our customers, which means all the consumables they use can be put into a box or bag and sent back. We currently recycle 97% of the items that get returned to us in this scheme. The other way sustainability is key for us is that we use technology that’s more energy-efficient. Most people refer to laser printers when talking about the toner printer market. Actually, OKI uses LED technology. We’re all used to the benefits of LED light bulbs in daily life; the same benefits hold true for printers – they consume less energy, they don’t get as hot, there are fewer moving parts. It gives you much greater flexibility, reduces electricity consumption and lowers costs. That same LED technology allows us to print onto a whole range of media. Our survey shows that up to 60% of businesses outsource certain elements of their print – business cards, banners, posters, flers etc.. But with a standard OKI desktop printer, you can print 1.2-metre banners, business cards and pre-cut media, so you can bring in-house an awful lot of things you would otherwise have to outsource.
Steven Hastings, channel IT director, Ricoh UK
What do you see as the main challenges facing SMEs and corporates in 2016?
“There’s been a lot of talk from vendors and the channel about managed print services (MPS). On the MFP side of the business people understand MPS, because they have been using and sourcing their products in that way for years. On the printer side, the challenge for SMEs is controlling their costs and having an understanding of how they can manage and audit their print usage. As a vendor, we need to help our reseller partners help their customers to fully understand how MPS works and how it can benefi their business.
How is Ricoh helping businesses address these issues?
By providing the right tools, products, services and solutions so that whether you are an SME/SMB, a charity, a church or a school, you have the opportunity to manage your costs properly, with a very costeffective, low running cost product.
Do you provide pre-packaged offthe-shelf print solutions for end users?
Yes we do. With our printer range, we have what we refer to as Ricoh Click. This is a very straightforward, very easy to understand, very easy to use MPS contract. Essentially, you know what your running costs will be and you pay for what you use. You can choose to have a contract between one year and five years; there’s no minimum billing; and nobody’s asked to pay money up front. You get a quarterly bill charging you the agreed running cost for your usage in that quarter. It’s very, very straightforward.
What incentives do you offer end users?
We provide a broad range of offers and incentives, including trade-in campaigns and cash-back campaigns. With the trade-in campaign, if someone wants to trade-in and take a price for an existing product, we will go in, take the product away and recycle it properly. We will dispose of it ethically and provide a certifiate guaranteeing that the product has been disposed of properly and not just discarded. The other incentive I’m very pleased to promote is our 30-day guarantee, our confience pledge. We’re really proud of the products we manufacture and we want as many people to hear about them as possible, so our pledge to end users is that if you buy a Ricoh printer and you don’t like it – if it doesn’t do the job you want it to do – then we will collect it from you and refund the money completely.
See the interviews in full at