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Quocirca COVID-19 impact survey

April 9, 2020

Quocirca recently conducted a snapshot online survey between 31 March and 7 April 2020 to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the office print industry.

The survey reveals an industry in a state of flux, as print volumes across most sectors are seen to be in steep decline, Quocirca explained. However, despite the significant impact on their business, there is some cautious optimism among print industry professionals that this crisis presents an opportunity to drive innovation in their products and services.

As working practices move from the office to the home, the pandemic is potentially signalling a faster shift from paper to digital processes. With office print volumes diminishing, and home workers becoming more accustomed to working digitally, vendors and their channel are having to adapt their services. The theme of Quocirca’s recent Print 2025 study – “The journey to digital reinvention” – is even more pertinent today. Survey respondents clearly recognise the need to pivot their business and accelerate the expansion of the cloud, digital workflow and collaboration services.

Quocirca received 90 completed responses, 33% from OEMs, 56% from channel organisations and 11% from ISVs. Overall, 65% of respondents were from organisations with fewer than 1,000 employees. 44% of respondents were from European organisations, 27% from the US and 29% from other regions. Quocirca is running a second survey so changing sentiments can be tracked and priorities among print industry leaders better understood. Download a complimentary report of the full findings.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Major market disruption. 66% state that the crisis has already had a significant impact on their business to date, a further 3% say impact has been critical. Overall, almost half (48%) strongly agree that COVID-19 will cause significant and continuous market disruption.
  • Cost cutting implemented, projects and investments paused. 77% have cut costs, 14% indicate that they have made staff redundancies. 59% have paused or cancelled major projects or investments
  • The channel needs help from suppliers. 61% of channel respondents are looking for extended/flexible payment terms from suppliers. 55% need more information on supply chain updates.
  • Print volumes decline except in healthcare and government sectors. 70% are seeing or expect significant decline in print volumes overall, with a further 22% seeing a marginal decline. However, 47% are seeing increased demand from healthcare customers and 28% are seeing increased demand in government organisations.
  • Cautious optimism for recovery. 21% of respondents are cautiously optimistic that their business could return to normal in less than 3 months. 23% say 3-6 months and 35% expect it to take 6 to 12 months. 21% expect it to take longer or do not believe that there will a ‘business as usual’.
  • Operating models will have to change. 57% state that they will need to change their operating model going forward. 48% state that they will be bringing new products and/or services to market to help customers prepare for similar events in future.
  • An opportunity for innovation. Overall, 79% believe COVID-19 presents an opportunity to drive new product and service innovation.

Commenting on the survey findings, Quocirca Director Louella Fernandes said: “The office print industry and channel is in an uncertain state of flux. This early benchmark reflects the immediate decisions that businesses have been forced to make around changes in their own working practices – 61% say all staff are now working from home – and plans for investments and projects; the office print industry has pressed pause on those for the present.

“Channel companies are clearly keen to receive both financial support and a good flow of information from vendors. 61% are hoping for monetary measures such as extended payment terms, 39% need credit flexibility and the same percentage would like to see advance rebates. 55% seek more detailed information about any supply chain issues and 9% would like tailored guidance from their vendors.”

In terms of government support, the majority (64%) say the measures introduced in their region have helped mitigate the initial impact of the outbreak, with 20% saying they have helped a lot.

Print volumes have unsurprisingly declined across the majority of verticals, with the exception of the frontline response sectors of healthcare and government. “Many companies will pivot quickly to digital processes, accelerating paper-digital transformation through necessity,” commented Fernandes. “However, it will be interesting to see how the frontline government and healthcare sectors – currently still heavily print-dependent – will prioritise the shift from paper to digital once the initial crisis is past.”

There was some optimism among respondents. One fifth (21%) could see general opportunities for their business and 79% thought it could be a chance to drive product and service innovations.

Print industry professionals expect to see a sharp rise in demand for collaboration and cloud services as a result of the pandemic. 92% predict increased demand for collaboration tools such as videoconferencing, while 89% expect cloud-based digital workflows will be in demand. Similar expectations exist around the digitisation of paper-based processes and provisioning of printers for home working.

At present, Managed Print Services look set to be the loser, with 38% predicting demand for it will fall. However, businesses should not overlook the potential of wrapping home-printing provision into MPS contracts, particularly in the light of security concerns: 86% of respondents said their customers were concerned about the security risks of home printing.

Fernandes concluded: “The print industry’s resilience and innovative heritage is reflected in the way respondents are seeing potential in the midst of uncertainty. One of their top three concerns for the future is understanding changes in customer needs, indicating that they are already thinking about how to pivot to serve clients in a new environment.

“We are also seeing the breadth of technology expertise demonstrated in the direct responses offered by many vendors. From shifting manufacturing facilities to ventilator production to 3D printing of PPE and components, the industry is rising to this defining challenge we face.”

The full research findings are available at: https://www.print2025.com/reports/quocirca-covid-19-study-phase-1

The second Quocirca survey is now open at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QuocircaCovid19survey2

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