IDC analyst and peripherals program manager, RISHI GHAI, gives an overview of the state-of-play in the printing and imaging market.
The solutions approach to marketing printing and imaging is inevitable at a time when the market is witnessing seriously declining hardware prices and thinning margins. Indeed, it is relatively easier to differentiate offerings and win customers by demonstrating the ability to provide a unique solution than merely supplying hardware.
IDC's research shows that more than half of Australian businesses have only a partial understanding of their printing and imaging costs and usage patterns. Consequently, there is a wide gap between the user's perceived utility of printing and imaging hardware, and the actual benefit derived from it.
For instance, in spite of more than 70 per cent of Australian print users exhibiting a strong preference for buying colour-capable devices, their actual colour hardcopy output is rather low at one-fourth of the total. Likewise, although users attach high importance to the specifications of printing and imaging hardware, they are unable to distinguish significantly between the relative importance and benefit of any given specification from another.
Both vendors and the channel have an opportunity to bridge the gap between users' perceived utility and the actual benefit derived from printing and imaging hardware. It elicits the need for consultative and educational approach to selling solutions, beyond just moving hardware boxes.
Businesses today are more receptive to learning about the concept of outsourcing their printing and imaging, despite low adoption overall. IDC believes that vendors and the channel need to demonstrate a strong cost-benefit proposition to users to sensitise them to the real need for document management, or fleet management solutions. Since not all members of the channel are capable of providing these often complex solutions, close partnerships with vendors are required to build the requisite experience over a period of time.