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Why next-generation print should be a strategic IT initiative

Martin Fairman, Lexmark Managing Director, UK & Ireland, explains how a next-generation print infrastructure can accelerate digital transformation success

The COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled a new wave of digital transformation, with organisations worldwide intensifying their investment in this space. In fact, according to IDC, worldwide spending on IT infrastructure (including public and private cloud) increased 2.2% in the first quarter.


As the pandemic exposed previously unnoticed weaknesses in company infrastructure, established businesses in nearly every sector felt pressure to transform into digital organisations to become more innovative, responsive, customer-centric and, crucially, future-proofed.

This transformation has involved a re-focus on platform-as-a-service (PaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) as major components of enterprise cloud adoption strategies.

Yet, many IT teams find that their cloud migration projects are hampered by legacy systems and infrastructure. If these systems remain in place, IT admins can struggle to deliver a seamless flow of data across an organisation and ensure disparate information silos are not a hindrance to achieving business goals and staying competitive.

According to McKinsey, less than 30% of digital transformation projects globally succeed.

Why print matters
It seems clear that a key factor hampering digital transformation success is lingering IT infrastructure – the hardware, software, network resources and services required for the ongoing operation and management of the business – and its inability to integrate with new technology investments.

According to a recent report by IDC (sponsored by Lexmark), 51% of organisations cite updating or replacing legacy business processes as having a negative impact on their ability to execute strategic digital transformation initiatives.

What happens when a significant part of an organisation’s lingering infrastructure is an integral and important business function such as print?

For many enterprises, print is not considered strategic, yet 43% of organisations are still investing in print infrastructure as a part of their broader digital transformation initiatives. There is good reason for this: print remains highly entrenched in today’s offices.

In IDC’s 2019 Document Process Survey, 40% of knowledge workers reported spending 21-30% of their working week on document-related tasks (paper and digital). Almost one in three documents used each day are paper-based (30%) and, every week, knowledge workers create 23 hard copy documents, compared to 21 electronic ones.

Unaddressed problems with print
Despite its importance to business operations, legacy print infrastructure is often cited as a burden on IT staff and an almost textbook example of the challenges of integrating legacy systems within digital transformation strategies.

The top IT concerns relating to managing print are around security. They include endpoint protection of print devices; security of the overall print infrastructure; and security of print/document content.

An additional concern is the perceived drain on internal resources of managing and supporting associated print infrastructure and the cost and maintenance requirement of physical (on-premises) print servers.

Enterprises that are pushing hard towards digital transformation also identify technology obsolescence as a challenge. Many of these businesses have an ageing print fleet composed of multiple brands in various configurations that have evolved ad hoc over several years. Some devices might be fully owned and some still part of a long-term service contract.

These complex legacy print ecosystems are a big reason why 79% of organisations say that updating or replacing their existing print hardware and applications has become a significant concern for their IT teams.

Worryingly, and despite the motivation to undergo digital transformation, 60% of organisations say lingering print infrastructure is negatively impacting their ability to support digital workflows. More than half (57%) have no plans to update their print environment in support of digital transformation initiatives.

Bridging the paper-digital divide
What these businesses might not understand is that there is no need to remain tethered to outdated equipment. Modern print technology has evolved to provide advanced functionality in security, analytics and document processing, to the extent that modernising print infrastructure can play a vital role in advancing digital transformation initiatives.

Next-Gen Print Infrastructure-as-a-Service (NGPIS) platforms are critical to supporting the broader, more strategic needs of the enterprise and can help shift the discussion from managing devices to managing business outcomes.

This is where enterprise businesses want to be – but to get there they will need to view an investment in next-generation print infrastructure as a strategic priority that will accelerate digital transformation success.

Business Info Magazine & Site is Published by Kingswood Media 2022