The Trends Shaping the Future of Office Technology Solutions, Infrastructure and Sales

According to Gartner projections, IT spending is expected to surpass $5 trillion in 2024, growing 8% year over year. With a few months of 2024 behind us, the print industry remains partially unstable due to shifts in print volume, consolidation and mergers, and fluctuations in financial performance. 

Businesses are looking for ways to evolve in order to be successful — both in this current economic climate and in the future. Many are on a search for tools and processes that provide more efficient workflows but require fewer resources, which allows employees to focus on what is most important — making their businesses thrive. A good place to start is by reevaluating current technologies being used in the office and determining if they are still supporting short and long-term goals.

Inkjet solutions are a worthwhile investment

Looking back four years ago, during the pandemic, laser print devices were in short supply. So, while some were skeptical, businesses purchased and installed inkjet devices to keep their operations running. Now that laser devices are back in supply, is it worth considering swapping out inkjet for a laser? 

The benefits of inkjet technology have capably provided sustaining support for businesses throughout the pandemic. Inkjet office printers provide high productivity combined with sharp image quality. The advantage is powerful technology with an uncomplicated process for fast, professional quality printing.

While an advanced technology, inkjet is simple and has the ability to print on a variety of substrates. The devices have a less complex imaging system, and therefore, require minimal service and maintenance versus laser devices. And, with the use of fewer moving parts – no fuser units, no lasers, no photoreceptors – inkjet devices can last longer than laser devices because of less wear and tear from heat. Fewer maintenance parts can also mean less waste going into landfills. Additionally, inkjet devices leverage heat-free technology and use less power than comparable color laser printers. 

Successful printing projects need the effective use of color and the right type of printer. There are benefits to printing in color as it is a powerful and universal communication tool. The significance of color can affect how a business is perceived and is critical to stand out among the competition. While businesses might think that printing in color will take more time and be more costly than printing in monochrome, with inkjet they should no longer be hesitant about printing in color. Many models offer cost-efficient ink replacement options such as high-yield, large-capacity ink cartridges and ink bottles.

With the proven success of inkjet, it is still a viable print solution for businesses looking for a new office print solution. According to feedback from office technology resellers and dealers, businesses who were formerly skeptical about inkjet have accepted it and are still considering it as an integral component for the future of their office environment.

The future office relies on a hybrid and remote workforce and the technologies to support both

Another post-pandemic trend that has transitioned into the current year is that the hybrid and remote work infrastructure seems to be more of a permanent aspect in the current office landscape. More advanced communication and management tools are needed to engage with employees – both on and off-site. As a result of the hybrid workforce, distributed printing continues to grow. IT managers should reevaluate their print environments and find ways to optimize their print fleets. 

In terms of hardware to support a hybrid and remote workforce, there will likely continue to be a reduction in corporate unit placements as well as print volume. In turn, the most demand will be for desktop and A4 printers and MFPs. A3 MFPs, while still important, will be in less demand.

To support fleets of office and remote printers in a hybrid environment, cloud-based management tools allow dealers to easily monitor and control a customer’s printer fleet remotely. For IT teams managing multiple printer fleets, remote service tools make it easy to acquire needed intelligence to remotely manage printing devices and access customer printer details, including device status, consumable status, and print usage. 

Some remote maintenance functionalities can provide diagnosis alerts regarding possible errors or issues in advance. With preventative maintenance and device status notifications, IT managers can control maintenance functions and track the status of devices offsite. This makes field visits significantly more efficient and helps save time and money spent on unnecessary trips.

The right tools can help IT managers streamline printer configurations and effectively manage not only print operations remotely with tools for fleet management, but also print security, mobile, scan functionality, workflow management, and more. 

Security is also top of mind for consumers and businesses as it continues to be a topic of concern and conversation with end users. End users will want to be assured that their office solutions are designed to be safeguarded against vulnerabilities. As such, businesses should have conversations with their dealers about security and the measures they have in place.

Turning to trusted technology providers

With finding the right technologies for the office, it is also important to find a trusted dealer and provider. As the office print industry continues to transform, businesses want to be assured that their dealer is an active partner in discussing current and long-term goals and recommending technologies to address office equipment challenges and that their technology providers deliver solutions that are reliable and efficient. 

In the imaging space, most initial client engagements are centered on solving an office print challenge. However, it’s important to remember that businesses might also be looking for other peripheral solutions to increase the efficiency of office operations. Could the business benefit from other office technologies such as projectors for conference rooms, large-format printers for marketing teams or scanners for the accounting department? Having solutions like these onsite can help alleviate costs and streamline processes with the ability to execute professional-quality print jobs on-demand and in-house.

Most dealers sell and service office equipment and printers to a wide range of businesses, and there are opportunities for dealers to explore new outlooks on how to expand into other adjacent markets to support the future success of their clients. They have the knowledge and experience with a variety of office technology solutions as well as suppliers and can be viewed as being more than just print providers.

When reevaluating current technologies in the office, businesses take notice of solutions that have been easy to use, easy to manage physically and financially, and reliable. It is common for businesses that are satisfied with current solutions that are meeting performance expectations, to be more inclined to buy other, related high-performing products from the manufacturer or be a repeat buyer. This is where expertise, guidance and having a broad suite of reliable and efficient office technology offerings can make all the difference for dealers. 

Elliot Williams is director of product marketing, Business Imaging, Epson America.