Brother Bets on the (Hybrid) Enterprise Office

On the heels of its recent national dealer meeting in Torrey Pines, Calif., Brother held a unique event to highlight a slate of new offerings. At a boutique studio in midtown Manhattan, Brother gathered a select group of media and analysts and laid out its strategy for navigating this new era in the office equipment space and announced eight new color laser MFPs and all-in-ones—the HL-L9410CDN, MFC-L9610CDN, HL-L9430CDN, HL-L9470CDN, MFC-L9630CDN, MFC-L9670CDN, HL-EX470W and MFC-EX670W. The whole lineup was on display for review and hands-on show and tell.

brother new color lasers

Designed to help their channel partners’ businesses thrive in a tumultuous market, the end user is at the heart of this new lineup — particularly the enterprise end-user, which is the new target Brother is aiming at with its color laser devices. “This is definitely a newer area for us,” said Shelly Radler, senior product marketing manager at Brother. “Especially in terms of color laser, these sit above anything that we currently have in our lineup,” she said, noting the 42-ppm devices have an improved print quality that makes them more enterprise-ready, as well as a competitive cost per page and a focus on security — all of which help make them suited to a new type of enterprise.

Digital transformation and the hybrid office

Even before the pandemic, companies were taking steps to digitize business processes. After the onset of the pandemic, they accelerated those initiatives to enable remote working. And now that workers have gotten a taste of the benefits that come with hybrid work, it doesn’t look like we’re going back. While businesses stand to benefit from increased productivity and flexibility in adopting hybrid working models, it will also make life difficult for the IT professionals who have to set up, maintain, and secure that environment. Businesses also have to reimagine and reengineer their physical workspaces to accommodate these new working styles.

Brother’s new lineup of MFDs/all-in-ones is built with that future workplace in mind, serving as a portal between the physical and digital, enabling users to quickly print from the applications they use every day. They also offer fast scan speeds (52 PPM/104 IPM), so workers can quickly digitize documents and send them where they are needed next — be it an automated workflow, cloud service, email, or a user’s desktop. Each device is also equipped with a 7-inch color touchscreen display that supports up to 64 preconfigured scan shortcuts and enables users to preview scanned images.

In addition to the color laser devices, Brother is bridging the hybrid gap with two smaller monochrome laser devices — one printer and one MFP — for the work-from-home space, as well as its first Workhorse inkjet device for the channel, which Bob Burnett, Brother’s director of B2B solutions deployment and planning, touted as being able to fit multiple areas. “It could be in that work-from-home environment,” he said when introducing the products at the event, “or it could be used in a balanced deployment environment … [for] a customer that needs 11 x 17 but only 200-500 pages,” for example.

brother workhorce inkjet

Security

While the sudden uptick in digital transformation and mass adoption of hybrid working might help businesses be more productive than they could ever imagine, these trends also introduce a lot of risk into their business. IT teams have very little control over the systems interacting with their environments, which makes the difficult task of defending all the more difficult. And the attackers are thriving in this new environment, with security breaches continuing to be on the rise

If you’re going to go after business in the enterprise, security is absolutely critical. Brother’s new devices leverage triple layer security to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information at the MFP — whether it’s on or accessible from the device or in transit. Each device supports RFID authentication, enabling the usage of strong, complex passwords without the need to remember or write them down somewhere. The new line also supports Brother’s Secure Function Lock feature, so administrators can limit users from accessing features and functions on the device that they don’t need to use. This allows IT teams to adhere to the principle of least privilege, which can help limit the damage an intruder can do with stolen credentials.

Our take

The role of the printer is changing as businesses digitize more processes and workplaces become more distributed. The demand for SOHO devices that powered Brother and others through 2020 and 2021 has waned, but to compete, OEMs must target a new sort of enterprise, one with users working both within the office and outside its walls on a regular basis. Brother’s new devices are built to address these changing circumstances: enabling digital transformation, keeping workers, information, and processes connected no matter where they are, and ensuring that the IT environment is secure.

Even in a more traditional office environment, however, the new color lasers are a definitive statement that Brother is ready to be taken seriously on the enterprise level. Capable of speeds up to 42 ppm in both simplex and duplex, they offer its highest supply yields and lowest cost per page, and address the varied needs of enterprise users with speed, finishing options, integrated workflow tools and security. “This takes us to the next level,” said Burnett. “More capacity, more features, more toner – more, more, more in all categories to really bring a product to the enterprise user that they didn’t have from Brother.”

If understanding the environment is an indicator of success, Brother should be able to achieve its goals. Demonstrating an understanding of what users need, what the office requires and what the security landscape demands, the new lineup is a compelling offering that shows Brother has done its homework.

lightbox studio dinner
Analysts gather for dinner hosted by Brother at Lightbox, an “experience incubator and hi-tech space in New York City, producing the next generation of experiential.”

is editorial director of BPO Media’s publications Workflow and The Imaging Channel, and senior analyst for BPO Research. As a professional writer and editor, she has specialized in the office technology industry for the last 20 years. Prior to that she worked in public relations and has a master's degree in communication arts.