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WHITE PAPER
SMB Buying Considerations for Smarter Business Printing
Sponsored by: OKI Europe Ltd
Jacqui Hendriks

Arnaud Gagneux

October 2012

IDC EMEA, 389 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 4AE, U.K.

Tel.+44.20.8987.7100

www.idc.com

Executive Summary
In this world of high-definition LCD screens and tablet PCs, there is a paradox in our
love of hardcopy and printed material which shows that we still like to digest data and
communicate many of our messages and ideas on paper. Sales of laser printers* into
European organisations, even during these economically challenging times, are
anything but flat. Of course, there have been advances in print technology which have
helped to keep office printing popular with users. Colour and the speed that colour
documents can be printed has certainly added fuel to the fire. Print quality to rival
offset has had the effect of re-directing printed pages from external print houses to
the office laser printer, and usability enhancements such as wireless printing, followme printing and reduced paper jams have all helped to keep office printing attractive.
However, this popularity needs to be checked. In this time of austerity, the way that
small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) buy office printers and the way in which
users print has to change so that the cost to the organisation and the cost to the
environment are brought under control.
If the time is approaching for you to upgrade your print devices, there are three main
criteria that will help make the right purchasing decision:
 The importance of tracking print usage (internal and external) to cost control
 Environmental considerations not just for alignment with green IT policies but
also for cost management
 Security — reducing the "cost" of security breaches
In addition, IDC recommends reviewing the use of external printing services. The
acquisition of colour laser printers with the right features for your in-house
requirements, such as A3 and duplex capabilities, can enable companies to bring the
printing of marketing and promotional material in-house, reducing overall print-related
costs.

Background
In 2011, laser print device shipments to Western European SMBs grew by over 3% to
(1)
reach 5.5 million units .
However, the popularity of these devices presents cost issues for SMBs. It is often
the case that management does not realise that the costs of printing are spiralling out
of control. Technology gains in speed and quality make it all too easy for triggerhappy users to press the print button. In addition, the availability of colour often leads
them to print any document they choose in colour, even if black and white would do
just as well.

*All references to laser printers in this document include LED printers.

 
In this document, IDC will:
 Highlight the issue of costs from a number of different angles which might not
have been considered previously by the print buyer.
 Indicate ways in which future buying considerations need to be reviewed in order
to better contain and control the internal and external costs to the organisation.

Keeping Track of Usage
The growing volume of information generated in every organisation tends to be
printed by users in order to more easily digest it. This potential mountain of printed
material needs to be controlled, which means that buyers should look at software
options provided by printer vendors and third-party providers that can identify, track
and manage these prints.

Identifying and Analysing Print Activity
The first step in controlling cost is identifying what the costs are. The installation of
usage software which sits on your network will monitor print volume by user. It can
also analyse:
 Who prints
 The types of print jobs; for example, are they colour or mono?
 The number of pages per print job
 The time of day jobs are sent
 The types of files being printed, for example, PDF, Excel, html

Controlling Your Costs
After gathering this information, usage software can allow you to set rules which will
help to control the print output and reduce your ongoing costs. For example it can:
 Identify individual user or department activity or assign activities to specific
clients enabling companies to cross charge internally or bill clients
 Set mono printing as standard — users have to change the settings in the driver
to print their documents in colour, again forcing them to decide whether colour is
actually needed for that particular document
 Set defaults so that all documents print in duplex, changing settings to print in
single-sided mode when required
 Use the pull printing feature of the usage software solution — this is when a user
sends a print job to a specific device but where the user has to activate printing
at the device. This provides a level of security but also reduces wasted printed
documents, contributing to lower energy, toner and paper costs
 Only allow certain users to print in colour or restrict colour use for certain types of
document
 Set a page limit for each user's colour output

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©2012 IDC

 
 Set a draft or toner save mode as standard — a reduced amount of toner is
used, this prompts users to think if they actually need a high quality print for that
particular document

Reducing the Need for External Printing Services
In understanding overall costs of printing and overall printing requirements, you
should not exclude the cost of external printing services. By providing print devices
that enable businesses to move external printing in-house, companies no longer need
to print large volumes to obtain the economies of scale associated with using a thirdparty print facility. They can print what they need when they need it. The additional
benefit of this is they can also cost effectively tailor their communications for one-off
printing in-house.
In order to maximise an investment in colour laser printing, it can make sense for an
SMB to buy an A3 device over an A4 one and reduce or eliminate the need for
external colour printing services. A modern A3 colour laser print device can produce
excellent quality marketing material, thus negating the need to pay for external
services. Not only can this reduce the cost of producing brochures and ad-hoc
marketing material, it can also reduce the lead time so that your important marketing
message can be communicated promptly to customers and you can be proactive as
well as speedily reactive in competitive situations.
There is evidence that demand for A3 colour laser print devices within SMBs is
gaining momentum in Western Europe (see Figure 1). For the SMB sector, while the
total number of A4 colour laser print device sales showed a healthy growth of 3%,
they are also taking advantage of the benefits of A3 colour laser printing, with a
growth of 8% in 2011 for the latter devices.

FIGURE 1
Volume of Western European Laser Print Devices into SMBs

4% growth
3% growth

8% growth

Source: IDC Western European Printer Tracker, 2012

©2012 IDC

#IDCWP14U

3

 
So what are these businesses doing with their A3 print hardware? These devices
enable the printing of high quality banners, posters, booklets, packaging mock-ups
and direct mail, for example. Figure 2 shows that brochures and flyers were the main
drivers of printed marketing output for small companies and price lists were the
(2)
highest driver for medium sized companies .

FIGURE 2
SMB Marketing and Sales Applications for Print
Q:

Which of these marketing/sales documents drove the increased print volume in the past 12
months? (All that apply)

Brochures/f lyers
Price lists
Ad or packaging mock-ups
Sales reports
Labels
TOTAL
Marketing collateral

Medium
Small

Direct mail
Customer surveys
Packaging
Newsletters
Other
0%

20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

Source: IDC Hardcopy Device Usage: Applications Driving Print, 2011

However, A3 colour print devices can help not only with marketing collateral; they
have the added bonus of being able to print complex spreadsheets, large-scale
technical plans and diagrams, and anything that is better viewed in a larger scale. In
some cases, A3 devices have taken the place of some computer-aided design (CAD)
printing devices, as design software becomes more affordable.
As we have seen, colour laser print devices are a popular choice and, as Figure 3
shows, buying intentions among SMBs over the next year are high.

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FIGURE 3
SMB Imaging-Related Buying Intentions in the Next 12 Months
Do you expect to buy any of the following categories over the next 12 months (%)?

25%

20%

15%

10%

5%

0%
Colour laser Inkjet MFP Colour laser
printer
MFP

Inkjet
printers

Mono laser
printer

Handheld
devices

Mono laser Wide format Standalone Standalone
MFP
printer
scanner
Fax

Source: IDC SMB Hardcopy Survey 2011

The Environmental Considerations of Printing
Energy Consumption
Energy usage is also a major concern for European SMBs, with 46% stating this in a
recent IDC survey(3) - see Figure 4. Consequently a reduction in energy consumption
is high on the agenda from an environmental perspective, and of course it also has
positive financial implications for businesses. Additionally, the second tier of the
European Union Energy-using Products (EuP) directive comes into force in January
2013, leading to further emphasis being placed on this topic. This directive will require
all print devices sold after this date to have an "auto off" mode which will shut down
the device when its primary feature has not been in use for a certain amount of time.
It will also require each device to have a soft-switch instead of a conventional
mechanical alternating current (AC) switch so users can switch off products without
shutting down from a menu.

©2012 IDC

#IDCWP14U

5

 

FIGURE 4
Print-Related Environmental Concerns
Q.

What environmental issues surrounding printing are of concern for you (%)?

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%
Energy use

Hardware recycling
programs

Consumable
recycling
programs

Use of recycled
paper

The need to reduce Need to reduce the
packaging
amount of pages
printed

Development of
sustainability
programs

Source: IDC SMB Hardcopy Survey 2011

Newer products typically use 30% less energy, according to IDC research, and
(4)
consume 20% less toner than legacy devices , so investing in new equipment can
actually pay for itself over the long term.

Look Out for Green Features
As Figure 5 shows, many European companies are already looking at "green"
features when procuring print hardware, with 61% stating that features such as
duplex and reduced energy consumption were already part of their organisation's
(5)
green IT policy . IDC believes that this philosophy should apply to any company
looking at buying a print device in the future.

Footprint
With space often at a premium in SMBs' offices, the footprint of the device is also an
important purchasing criterion. A3 devices can be inherently bigger than their A4
equivalents; they need to store a larger paper size but they are also considerably
more versatile (see "Reducing the Need for External Printing Services"). A well
designed product can lead to A3 devices accommodating just marginally more space
than A4 devices. If you are considering, for example, upgrading an A4 colour laser
print device then looking at products that offer A3 functionality for a similar footprint to
A4 is worth considering.

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©2012 IDC

 

FIGURE 5
Businesses Are Demanding Green(er) Print Hardware
Q.

Which of the following issues are impacted by your company's current green IT policies for
hardcopy peripherals?

70%

61%
60%

59%
55%

52%

50%

40%
40%

30%
30%
20%
10%
0%
Green features

Recycle cartridges

Employee
behaviour

The brands we buy Hardware disposal

Reduction in
devices

Source: IDC IT and Sustainability End User Survey, September 2011

Secure Printing
In a survey of European businesses conducted by IDC in August 2011, data
protection ranked the highest in a list of 10 initiatives that were on their agenda for the
coming 12 months. 54% of the respondents indicated that data protection was either
(6)
very important or important to them .
Print devices can generate sensitive and confidential company information, and while
a good firewall can help keep company data safe, documents left lying around on a
print device can result in important information going astray. Purchasing print security
software is a wise investment to help deal with this issue.
Figure 6 shows that a large number of European SMBs are already using a host of
software options to help manage their print devices, and 23% say that they presently
use document security software and IDs.

©2012 IDC

#IDCWP14U

7

 

FIGURE 6
Common Forms of Document Management Software
Implemented
Q.

What type of printing and document management software does your company use on a
regular basis (%)?

50%
45%
40%
35%
30%
25%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0%
Digital document
storage software

Device usage and Document capture Document security
reporting
solutions
including user ID

Accounting
software

Device
management and
remote diagnostics

Source: IDC SMB Hardcopy Survey 2011

Typically, features of security software packages will include:
 Authentication and restriction of access: The software will identify the user
whenever the device is accessed and then pre-programmed rights and privileges
can be granted or denied based on a user's department or position. For example,
only senior employees or management would be given rights to print company
financial or legal documents or sensitive customer data.
 PIN-protected and pull printing: Every employee can be given a PIN number or
an ID card so that if a job is sent to a print device it can be held in the print queue
and only released when the PIN is entered or the ID card is swiped. This feature
can prevent any sensitive documents being printed and left, forgotten, at the print
device.
 Deleted jobs: The security software can also be used to set rules so that any
jobs that are in the queue or on the print device's hard drive for a certain number
of hours are deleted. Additionally, the software can be set so that all unprinted
jobs are deleted at the close of business.
 Encrypted documents: As documents are sent across the network, they are
encrypted to keep them secure until they are printed.

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©2012 IDC

 

Summary and Recommendations
Laser printing technology has developed significantly in recent years, with speeds of
colour laser printing now equal to mono, and print quality to rival external print shops.
The colour laser print device, especially in A3 size, bolsters the argument for SMBs to
bring more colour print jobs in-house.
In order to make the greatest use of the investment, these devices need to be on the
network. With multiple users often vying to print, your hardware investment should be
accompanied by investments in usage and security software to safeguard your
company from unchecked costs and loss of sensitive information.
Figure 7 summarises SMB buying considerations for smarter business printing. These
criteria will help your company to make the right purchasing decisions.

FIGURE 7
SMB Buying Considerations for Smarter Business Printing

Tracking &
Controlling Usage

 Usage and analysis software
for tracking internal activity
 Identify, analyse and control
costs
 Setting of default to lower
costs e.g. duplex, mono draft
printing
 Analysis of external printing
activity

Environmental






Energy consumption
Space saving
Consumables usage
Paper consumption

Security

 Restricting access
 PIN protect/pull printing
 Auto delete of jobs at
day end or xx hours
 Encrypted documents

Buying Smart =

 More control, tighter security
 Short to longer term fixed and variable costs
are reduced
 Employee efficiency and productivity increased
 Green issues of printing addressed
Source: IDC, 2012

©2012 IDC

#IDCWP14U

9

 

IDC recommends that SMBs consult the following checklist when evaluating their new
printing requirements:
Step 1: Scrutinise your existing fleet of laser print devices:
 How old are they?
 How much energy do they consume in various modes? Do they have power
save/auto-off modes?
 How big are they/how much valuable space do these devices accommodate? Is
there sufficient value in adding versatility to your business by replacing A4
machines with affordable A3 machines; if the latter, do they cover a similar
footprint?
 Is there sufficient value in bringing any outsourced colour print jobs in-house
(cost, speed, service)? Do you have sufficient colour devices in-house to
optimise this internal service? Do the colour devices provide the features and
functionality you require to support short-run marketing initiatives?
Step 2: Having assessed your current print environment status, you need to assess
your product options. Buy smart and look out for:
 Environmental features, as well as the usual key features of print quality and
speed.
 Overall cost of running the devices, including toner consumption, drum life and
energy usage.
 A compact footprint to help you optimise the use of premium office space.
 Implementation of software to track usage, identify users/departments and
associated costs, assign rules to restrict printing of specific documents.
 The ability to implement default mono, draft and duplex settings to further reduce
toner and paper consumption.
 Software to encrypt documents, PIN/ID card printing, auto delete of unprinted
jobs.
IDC research shows that the average replacement cycle for a laser print device is
(3)
less than four years . Make full use of the opportunity to buy smart. Doing so will
give you tighter control over your print costs. Investment in the right products and the
right software will help to better manage the total cost of printing.
Analysing usage and rightsizing hardware and software requirements to your
company's needs also brings environmental benefits — factors which positively affect
you, your employees, your bottom line, your public image, and the world at large.

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©2012 IDC

 

Sources
1.

IDC Western European Printer Tracker

2.

IDC Hardcopy Device Usage: Applications Driving Print: 600 businesses in
France, Germany and UK, January 2012, IDC #KP53U

3.

IDC SMB Hardcopy Survey 2011: 330 SMBs with less than 500 employees in
France, Germany and UK

4.

2010/2011 IDC interviews with IT decision-makers

5.

IDC IT and Sustainability End User Survey, September 2011: 603 organisations
in France, Germany, Spain and the UK

6.

The Importance of IT for Business Enablement Among Western European
Vertical Markets in 2012, December 2011, IDC #M10T

Copyright Notice
External Publication of IDC Information and Data — Any IDC information that is to be
used in advertising, press releases, or promotional materials requires prior written
approval from the appropriate IDC Vice President or Country Manager. A draft of the
proposed document should accompany any such request. IDC reserves the right to
deny approval of external usage for any reason.
Copyright 2012 IDC. Reproduction without written permission is completely forbidden.

©2012 IDC

#IDCWP14U

11


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