Historically, until a few years ago, the world of commercial print was entirely offset. While offset presses still account for a significant portion of print volume, it can’t be denied that digital printing is gaining further ground.
Vast improvements in the quality and speed of digital systems have opened the door for print service providers to pass along significant advantages to their customers. Today, the customer want more options and outdoor digital signage is a fast growing opportunity.
Ayman Aly, Professional Products Marketing Manager, Canon Middle East says, “The world of print has changed. It’s no longer about compromise – it’s about saying ‘yes’ to your customers. It’s about adapting and seizing new opportunities. From laminates, glass and wood for interior décor applications through to membrane switch overlays and printed electronics for applications in manufacturing, industrial printing applications are increasingly being printed digitally. 3D printing is also growing in popularity for use in supporting design and prototyping, as well as creating concept models.”
While there is a growing shift towards digitization and paperless options, paper and print still retain a good demand because of the entrenched sentiment of comfort and familiarity, working with paper.
Discussing the growing phenomena of paperless offices, Ahmed Kamal of Ricoh Middle East commented, “The adoption of the trend of paperless office continues to meet a lot of resistance in market because people are emotionally attached to working with paper. However, the offices are very much focused on the challenge of making the vision of the paperless office a reality. RICOH is going through a digital transformation by introducing new features like Scan to E-mail/USB drive, FAX to E-mail, searchable PDF and auto duplex printing.”
Rising demand for MFPs
The office user segment are demanding more efficient systems and MFPs offering more options than standalone devices, are therefore seeing growth in demand. There are also a wealth of product choices available in the market within the MFP segment.
Poi Chi Li, Head of Marketing for Middle East and Africa at Xerox comments, “Various industry market data sources show that the standalone printer market continues to be the largest segment. However, over the last few years through technological advancements, commoditisation of MPS and affordability, the MFP growth has been greater than standalone printers. In some cases, growth has been up to 10% in certain markets, therefore we see almost equal market size. A particular growth area is the Colour Multifunction printers where we have seen up to 20% YOY growth.”
Ahmed of Ricoh also agrees that MFPs are more in demand than standalone printers in the region.
He says, “There is a growth in the Multi-function products vis- a-vis single function printers. In the IT distribution segment, RICOH is witnessing a consistent growth in the printers and A4 MFPs capturing market share from competition. We have been introducing more volume selling A4 & A3 multifunction printers with ultra-low cost toner supplies and lower TCO.”
On the other hand, Canon’s Aly opines that while undoubtedly, MFPs are more popular than ever before, the fact is that Canon is witnessing equally strong demand for both standalone printers and MFPS.
Aly says, “MFPs are designed to boost office productivity with exceptional performance, smart value and an impressive range of intelligent capabilities. But both, standalone printers and Canon’s range of multi-function devices are in equal demand.”
According to Canon Middle East’s recently released Office Insights 2016, colour use is evolving. 47% agree they are printing more in colour than a few years ago and 57% use their printer or MFP for colour. For example, PIXMA printers use either dye-based or pigment-based Canon ink cartridges. “In general, dye-based inks offer vibrant colours, while pigment inks last longer. Canon Chroma Life 100 ink features in most PIXMA printers, including some of the PRO models, such as the PRO-100. This dye-based ink resists colour fading, and when used with select Canon photo paper, it creates photo prints that Canon claims should last up to 100 years in an album. A number of PIXMA PRO printers use Canon LUCIA ink, a pigment-based ink that delivers a wide colour gamut, high colour stability, and better scratch resistance,” added Aly of Canon Middle East.
Kamal of Ricoh shared his opinion on Colour printers by saying, “Colour Printing is a real need for an office and RICOH targeting to get more market share by introducing lower TCO colour MFP with less cost per page. RICOH is targeting to sell more number of colour MFP’s to the office segment.”
Ricoh’s Gel jet printers and MFPs are a fast and affordable alternative to conventional print technologies. They producing vibrant colour output at speed, they deliver the productivity of a colour laser printer for the price of an inkjet device. The technology is well accepted in the marketplace, according to the vendor.
MPS in demand
The digital transformation towards paperless offices is a journey that is underway at offices and in everyday life. His also helps meets need to manage and optimise print costs.
Ahmed opines, “Ever since the Internet became an everyday aspect of life, with high accessibility to a variety of digital screens and consumers favoring digital sources of entertainment over physical ones, it makes sense that paper isn’t used as regularly. The transformation in the end user segment to reduce their printing cost via managed print services (MPS) is on the rise. RICOH as Global MPS leader is providing low cost per page printing solutions with minimum investment option helps to grow the product segment.”
Further elaborating about Managed Printing Services, Kamal of Ricoh said, “Managed print services is gaining visibility and control of the office printing business. RICOH is a leading player in MPS offering has sizeable growth for partners in the region. This is changing the value proposition for MPS, Whilst MPS is delivering on cost-saving expectations, and it must play a more important role in helping organizations realize strategic growth plans.”
Xerox has been one of the earliest in providing solutions that enable digital transformation for documents and records. MPS is poised for growth in the Middle East as organizations flock to it to fulfil different motives, ranging from budgetary purposes, to environmental compliance, as well as security and reliability considerations.
Poi Chi says, “Our experience with digital transformation has not been a complete transfer to a paperless environment but rather an enabler to working smarter. Xerox Managed Print Services (MPS) help our customers to optimise their document processes and uncover hidden costs but allow them to continue to operate normally and run their businesses efficiently. As an example, Xerox has launched the award winning Xerox Print Awareness tool, designed to enhance MPS cost savings through print reduction and efficiencies at an individual customer level. Essentially Xerox supports smarter management of information, regardless of whether it is paper based on not.”
Industry experts have already predicted a double digit growth for this segment and according to an IDC report, large companies as well as SMEs in the Middle East are ready to look beyond traditional printing and explore MPS as a business solution. Among the Middle East countries, it is the United Arab Emirates that is seeing a strong growth market for MPS, thanks to its political and economic stability.
Ayman says, “While the public sector continues to be an important segment in the Middle East, it is also pertinent to note that MPS is now attracting interests from small and medium-sized businesses. Instead of buying 30 individual desktop printers, they are opting for 2 multi-function devices with a sound support partner. MPS is heading mid-market, a sign of increased awareness about its many benefits. Verticals such as hospitality, banking, finance, medical, oil & gas are seeing a great uptake of Canon MPS solutions to simplify their print processes and curb costs. MPS also helps in reducing an entity’s overall carbon footprint through less printing and lower power consumption and therefore environmental sustainability is also serving as a key driver for MPS in the region.”
“Some markets are more advanced than others; the United Arab Emirates for example has shown to be a strong growth market for MPS, thanks to its political and economic stability. Other markets are on the contrary seeing a rise in MPS, because of the pressure imposed by hardships to better manage budgets,” Aly adds.
Opportunities for Partners in Printers
With the office printer segment remaining a vibrant one, there is a significant opportunity for partners who can align with forward looking digital transformation strategies of companies and meet their requirements for an optimised fleet of printers that keep their costs well within budgetary constraints. Major vendors are offering partners the opportunity to align with their MPS programs.
Chi Li of Xerox says, “Xerox XPPS offering directly addresses the opportunity of Managed Print Services (MPS) through our channel partners. The Next Generation of MPS expands on the Automate & Simplify, Secure & Integrate and Assess & Optimise key pillars and offers a suite of tools and solutions to address key concerns of customers. As part of the XPPS program, partners can register, train and qualify as an accredited XPPS provider and have access to all tools to differentiate and take their offering to the next level.”
In addition to MPS, Ricoh also sees an opportunity in contracts for consumables.
“Consumable contracts and Managed print services are the new opportunities that can be introduced to our IT channel partners in the SMB segment,” says Ahmed Kamal of Ricoh.
Canon has been working closely with channel across different countries of the region. The manufacturer consistently recognizes and rewards its partners.
Aly stated, “We launched the Canon channel partner programmer last year which is designed to support and grow business in the IT channel and seeks to continuously recognize the contribution of key players and team members who in turn contribute to our success. The feedback from the channel community for the programmer has been fantastic and we are receiving a substantial increase in applications each day.”