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Legacy print infrastructure hinders digital transformation 

September 16, 2020

Lexmark recently commissioned IDC to conduct a study that uncovers dated print infrastructures as an obstacle to digital transformation.

Despite three in five enterprises recognising that lingering print infrastructures are a significant barrier to success, fewer than half are prioritising investment in this space, hampering the progress of strategic IT initiatives. 

The global study, conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, finds four in five (79%) companies responding are investing in cloud infrastructure as part of their digital transformation initiatives, but 57% say lingering print infrastructure is negatively impacting their cloud migration strategy. 

The IDC White Paper, sponsored by Lexmark, Next-Gen Print Infrastructure Services: Leveraging Cloud and IoT to Accelerate Your Digital Transformation Strategy, follows IDC’s Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide, predicting spending on digital transformation technology and services will grow by 10.4% in 2020 to $1.3 trillion (€1.09 trillion) globally in 2020.

“This research highlights the importance of considering cloud-based print infrastructure as a key strategic IT initiative,” said Matt Dollus, Lexmark Vice President of Global Marketing and IoT Portfolio. “Established companies in every sector are under pressure to transform into digital-first organisations. With the Covid-19 pandemic exposing gaps and weaknesses in IT infrastructure, many are struggling by failing to take print with them on their digital transformation journey.”

Transformation Challenges

Nearly half of survey respondents report challenges integrating existing IT into new infrastructure and updating or replacing legacy business processes; 60% have seen digital transformation budgets exceeded, and 54% faced delays and prolonged project timelines. 

The study demonstrates a profound difference between countries. In the UK, USA and Germany, 67% have integration challenges, compared to just 20% in Brazil. This is likely due to business complexity in the more developed markets.

While print volumes have decreased as some organisations have pursued a digital-first approach to document management, just over half of all essential workflow processes still have significant printing requirements according to the study. As such, organisations will need to provide the ability to print as an essential IT service for the foreseeable future.

The Problem with Print

Across the board, managing IT infrastructure remains a challenge, with the majority expressing similar concerns when it comes to legacy print including:

  • Ensuring the security of print infrastructure and devices (81%)
  • The IT burden associated with managing print and print servers (81%)
  • Inventory management (81%), alongside a lack of visibility into spending (80%)
  • Technology obsolescence and difficulty in updating or replacing legacy print hardware (79%)

Finding a Simple Solution

“IDC believes that it is time for organisations to start thinking about print more strategically—to elevate the conversation around print and include it within the broader context of their DX discussions related to cloud migration and document process strategies,” said Robert Palmer, Research Vice President, Imaging, Printing, and Document Solutions at IDC Research.

IT leaders appear to be united on a preference for as-a-service consumption models over financing (70% vs 22%), and a recognition (94% agree) that IoT has the potential to improve printer fleet management.

“IT leaders recognise the benefits of cloud and IoT,” Dollus added. “Delivering print as an IoT product-as-a-service will accelerate business agility and simplify IT management and acquisition, while improving the user experience for customers. Cloud print infrastructure as-a-service provides access to a modern and secure print infrastructure that can provide a basis for future digital transformation initiatives.”

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