More businesses will shift to a hybrid printing model, as they move to the next normal in the coming months.
For all those who thought that monochrome printing was almost dead, the pandemic era was a revival of sorts for these black and white printers. Konica Minolta already sees an upward trend in these B&W printers with more businesses going for these products. The company also sees that more businesses will shift to a hybrid printing model, as they move to the next normal in the coming months.
“We observed a shift in the demand from colour to monochrome. This is primarily because black and white printers are more affordable and can meet the small office printing requirements of people working from home,” Tai Nizawa, Managing Director, Konica Minolta Business Solutions India told CXOToday.
“But this doesn’t mean that the sales of our colour machines have gone down,” he said. “In fact, we are confident that this category will pick up momentum once the economy unlocks, with businesses and schools reopening and employees returning to offices, we expect a notable surge in demand for Color printers as well through 2021.”
Seeing the market potential, in mid-2020 Konica Minolta launched an innovative range of digital multifunctional printers under the new bizhub i Series (intelligent, innovative and interactive) facilitating safer remote digital printing experience for the enterprise. More recently, the company added several new features including enhanced network capability to the new bizhub 165en/185en models.
Specifically targeted to the IT industry, the new printer models were economical, eco-friendly, and come with an easy to use MFP design, making it a great fit for printing, copying and scanning purposes. With interconnectivity features, users can connect with machine from anywhere in the office, and thus can raise productivity levels.
“We are also in the talks to plan a few more launches in both monochrome and colour series in the next two months of 2021, which will be around the concept of i-series,” he said.
The covid scenario already saw a downward trend for many aspects of printing – especially for products like direct mailers, magazines, technical journals and special paper marketing merchandising. And despite initial hiccups, the Japanese printing major ensured that business is as usual during the pandemic.
Hybrid to become the ‘new normal’
With work from home (WFH) becoming the new norm, it has become crucial for companies to reshape their working styles, and printing and imaging businesses are no exception, believes Nizawa.
“To run profitably and seamlessly, one must adopt an agile strategy across our operations and be prepared to tackle unexpected odds like COVID-19 with robust digital tools and solutions. Those who understand this will rule the market, while those who don’t will be out thrown by the competition,” he mentioned.
The printing company has also been conducting various reseller meets in the form of virtual sessions, educating resellers about the FAQs, giving them product demos, and training people on how to serve customers better.
“We have also been organizing marketing activities and Face to Face meetings. All these initiatives have helped us increase the total number of resellers along with sales in the recent months,” said Nizawa.
In such a scenario, he believes that just as the future of the workplace is hybrid, the future of printing is cloud printing, which not only simplifies printing, but also reduces the total cost of ownership. Moreover, it will connect cloud desktops and applications to the user’s home or office printers, and it will seamlessly support users as they move from their home office to the company office and back – or even stop at another location along the way.
To support a proper hybrid work scenario, organizations are ensuring that their employees have proper access to applications and devices from which to run or access those applications. However, Nizawa also noted the total cost of ownership is a critical factor, especially during the decision making process among prospective buyers in choosing a specific model. In fact, it is more important than ever, as we adjust to the new normal.
Feeling optimistic about 2021, he said, even though a significant part of the workforce is slowly returning to offices, we can’t deny that many companies will continue to follow the WFH strategy. Therefore, businesses must cater to the needs of both types of customers. For this, they must be equipped with sufficient onsite engineers who can visit a particular customer in case of a query, as well as engineers who can address the customer’s problems from home, mainly through phone call and video conferencing.
“Going forward, a hybrid model will play a pivotal role for businesses in the printing ecosystem to serve customers more seamlessly, rather than focusing on either online or offline,” said Nizawa.