Werner Engelbrecht, General Manager, Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa answered a journalists questions with insight and wisdom, so we thought we should share them with you.
How did the lockdown affect the printer market, particularly for Kyocera?
During the COVID-19 pandemic with lockdowns and quarantines, technology played, and is still playing, a vital role in keeping our society functional and connected. The pandemic has accelerated technology trends, with customer behaviours and preferred interactions having changed significantly. Companies are required to accelerate their shift to modern workstyles and tech-based operations where digital services, automation and adaptability are key.
When the virus hit, hundreds of millions of people took their laptops home but left their printers in the office, not realising how much they would need them. They then bought the cheapest printer they could find, not fully considering the cost of replacement ink cartridges and then proceeded to spend disproportionate amounts on printer ink per month.
The realisation is that if you want to be productive working from home and if you want your kids to be productive learning from home, you need a reliable printer with a low total cost of ownership and the best functionality possible.
Deloitte predicts that sales of all-in-one home printers – the kind that scan, print and/or email – will surge 15% this year to nearly US$29bil. That’s double the annual growth rate that had been predicted before the coronavirus outbreak.
Two significant developments from Kyocera played perfectly to this trend:-
1. In May, Kyocera moved to online retail to meet home office needs
2. In July, Kyocera partnered with Vox to offer home MFP rentals
The move into retail had long been on the cards and the timing couldn’t have been better. Consumers can now order Kyocera’s ‘working from home’ range of printers/MFPs, which are known for their robust and innovative technology, from online store Takealot and they can rent MFPs from Vox instead of having to buy them outright.
Kyocera has predominantly played in the business-to-business (B2B) space until now, and these developments extend the brand’s offering to the business-to-consumer (B2C) market, not only allowing all sectors of the market to be served, but also opening up new opportunities for Kyocera and our partners.
What are the long term changes resulting from the pandemic as workforces moved from the office to home? Has there been a new focus on the SOHO market? Or is this just a temporary blip?
There has been a seismic disruption in business. For years, many companies entertained the idea of establishing defined working from home policies, before finding reasons to kick the can down the road: inadequate technology; a lack of remote working culture; an absence of metrics to measure performance. However, in the blink of an eye, we had to become 100% remote overnight with little time for preparation. Despite this, it was only by diving into the deep end that we were able to realize that we were, in fact, fully able to work from home. At Kyocera, remote working is here to stay, and we hope to convert it into a competitive advantage.
Looking ahead, it seems unlikely that a 100% office or home working model will work. It is, therefore, very important to find the right balance between the two. On the one hand, we should give our employees the flexibility to embrace and enjoy the positive side of working from home, but we also need to value the sense of community and team spirit that comes with working together in the office and through face to face casual interactions.
Rather than a focus on the SOHO market, what we are seeing is organisations reviewing paper-based processes and fast tracking digital transformation to enable the continuation of WFH. We’re seeing a heightened interest in ECM - Enterprise content management, which allows remote staff to access the information they need, produce the content required, and make it available to others.
ECM offers strategies, methods, technologies, and tools for centrally storing, managing, and sharing all content in an organisation, including paper documents, digital documents, images, audio files, and because of this we can offer another solution that enables productive working from home.
A few years ago, Kyocera successfully implemented an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, ourselves, which was done to achieve much-needed business process optimisation and automation across Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa, and we have been encouraging companies to talk to us and to partner with us in their digital transformation. Why? Because when the lockdown came, there was absolutely no transition for us. We continued working as per usual, except we weren’t at the office.
People assume it is complex and expensive to transform, but we have proved the opposite to be true. No matter the size of a business, technology has been helping to keep overheads low and productivity high.
To add even more value, Kyocera produced a guide for remote working so download our eBook for more tips on remote working.
Many people have learned to work remotely and digitally, does this spell the end for printers, copiers, etc?
The COVID-19 pandemic created a deeper appreciation for things such as one’s health, getting together with friends, the great outdoors — and printers. Home printers have made a comeback, and it may outlast this crisis.
Looking ahead, it seems unlikely that a 100% office or home working model will work. It is, likely to be a balance between the two which means that the demand for printers/MFPs will continue.
How is the managed print market adapting to this situation?
Customers and partners are now looking to rapidly modernise their infrastructure and shift to service models to better manage their IT systems. Managed services have become a mainstay of enterprise IT and service providers are the grease that has kept the wheel of business turning throughout these troubled times.
Business disruptions are everywhere because of the pandemic and technology has become a cure, which means that the demand for managed print services continues. McKinsey positions technology as not only a disruptor, but also as a means of avoiding and mitigating risks. The c-suite understand this but don’t want to have to manage things themselves.