The tech world may be overflowing with mobile devices and cloud services, but Australian SMBs are still primarily looking for three fundamentals when choosing printers: reliability, cost and performance.
New research by retail analyst GfK, commissioned by Brother, has shown that Australian small businesses are looking for attentive customer service from sales reps, and printers that will prove to be reliable, low-cost workhorses, rather than placing priority on more aspirational printer features.
IT still in the hotseat for printer decisions
For larger organisations that have dedicated information technology resources, IT managers are still squarely in the hotseat for choosing printers that won’t let the workforce down. The research showed that IT managers place a higher focus on networking, connectivity and touchscreen displays, reflecting the importance of providing reliable and easy-to-operate printing to many users concurrently.
Brother, a brand best known for its affordable range of home printers sold through mass market retailers, has been quietly building out its printer range in recent years to include high volume corporate printers, marketed directly to business through partner organisations that can provide comprehensive sales and ongoing support.
The printers feature inbuilt NFC scanners for print-on-demand functionality (and print cost accounting – a feature that will be popular with all small to medium business managers) and toner cartridges with up to 20,000 page capacity for extremely low cost-per-print and maintenance overhead. Brother’s BRAdmin tool allows a fleet of varying Brother printers to be administered through a single centralised tool.
With ever-higher profile mass data dumps through sites like Wikileaks, and corporate intellectual property theft a growing industry, information security is a growing area of concern for Australian businesses. Managers surveyed by the study expressing that while they are reasonably confident that their network is safe, they’re not confident in the security of their printers.
Brother’s corporate printers feature Active Directory integration – linking in with most companies’ choice for network access and identity management, Secure Function Lock – which allows administrators to restrict public access to certain machine functions and Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) for remote printing with high-grade encryption of the print data.
Australian businesses favour inkjet printing over laser printing by a slim 10% margin, but report struggling with them for business printing, saying that despite their lower initial costs, they end up being more expensive and less reliable than laser.
Nearly 6 in 10 Australian businesses surveyed said that inkjet printers were not robust enough to handle the heavy print volumes in a business environment, and that they were more expensive to run over the long term than laser devices.
Across both inkjet and laser technologies, the majority of small businesses stay away from non-genuine toner and ink refills, citing better quality print results and a desire to avoid the downtime associated with damaging the printer when using non-genuine supplies.
Surprisingly, and contrary to the sales pitch of non-genuine suppliers, businesses said that genuine printer supplies actually resulted in a lower cost-per-page.
Strong interest in managed print services
Most small businesses manage their own printers and supplies, but with Australian businesses unaware that they’re spending between 1 – 3% of their revenue on printing and imaging, there’s very strong opportunity for managed print services (MPS).
Brother’s research shows that more than 50% of businesses are interested in engaging a partner to manage some or all of their in-house printing and imaging needs. The larger the organisation, the bigger the interest in a MPS contract – 73% of businesses with more than 250 people are interested, though the low upfront costs of an MPS solution makes them equally attractive for smaller businesses.
Businesses find the ‘turnkey’ nature of managed printing solutions – where everything from hardware supply to configuration and replenishment of consumables is organised for them – the most attractive aspect of MPS, with 38% of interested businesses listing peace of mind as the top benefit.
Better service and maintenance (35%) and the ability to have the latest printing devices without proactively having to purchase replacement devices (31%) also rated highly.
In Australia, Brother partners with a number of service providers that provide managed print services, which can include installation of printers that communicate their status with the provider automatically, automatic consumables replenishment, and on-site warranty service and maintenance.
Find out more about Brother's commercial solutions here: corpsolutions.brother.