What To Expect From Office Technology in 2021

March 30, 2021

With March marking a year since many businesses, ours included, had to swiftly pivot to remote work, we are now able to see the impact this has had on business priorities. IDC’s 2020 worldwide SMB market profile noted that these priorities have shifted to focus on revenue generation, with a much more targeted emphasis on customer and operational excellence.

In our recent webinar with IDC, What to Expect from Office Technology in 2021, when I had the opportunity to talk with Keith Kmetz, Program Vice President of IDC’s Imaging, Printing & Document Solutions, what became even more apparent was that our technology priorities have also shifted. Not surprisingly, much of this is due to the need to focus on supporting remote workers and business applications from afar. But at the same time, hardware isn’t just going away. We simply have to be smarter in our uses of it. Here’s some of what we have discovered about the changing needs of office technology.

Supporting a hybrid workforce

While we can anticipate return to offices for many workers later this year, it will definitely be more of a hybrid approach. And with that comes a need for greater support of mobility, and enabling technology to help both those working remotely and on-site.

IDC’s research found that the biggest IT challenges workers face include the (un)availability of IT support, being able to manage workflows efficiently and keeping access secure. There is also a greater focus on hygiene awareness, and how to deliver a safe, cleaner work environment.

For many companies, this also meant a switch from a reliance on office hardware such as MFPs, to a greater acceptance of visual display / touchless technologies to disseminate information instead. Software too is becoming important, such as having the right connections to utilize cloud for document management, and printing and scanning to the cloud.

Print is evolving

Taking this into consideration, the traditional printing market faces challenges to tackle such as security vulnerabilities, a lack of remote monitoring, and no clear path to manage workflow from a decentralized location. As such, the maturity of print has certainly been accelerated by the pandemic. But don’t worry! Print is still here to stay.

In fact, businesses like Konica Minolta have been taking this opportunity to react to the changing landscape. We know that copy and print are still needed, but we also know that both from a hardware and a software perspective, the role of print is pivoting. IDC’s survey respondents confirmed that customers want greater connectivity and integration with other solutions; cloud, workflow, and security are the keywords of 2021. The most important features for office technology now are WiFi connectivity and being able to print/scan to the cloud, rather than print speed and output quality. So having the right software is now just as important, if not more, as choosing the right machine for your business needs.

And in terms of choosing the right machine, we are also seeing minor shifts in demand in the market, such as a preference for A4 machines over A3, and a return to more centralized printing. The Konica Minolta A4 value proposition shines because while offering lower cost and a smaller size, it is still as competent as A3 MFPs in terms of user functionality. In addition, A3 devices are perfect for a central reprographic area, due to the continued changes in office layout as a result of Covid-19.

What this means for office technology going forward

I find these market changes fascinating, and can only see the MFP continuing to evolve into a quasi-business hub as we continue to adapt to customer needs. For example, while hardware itself no longer makes up the majority of technical priorities for SMBs, your printer is still where all information is managed, distributed and used from a central point.

The difference will be how we make it work for a more decentralized workforce and provide customers the opportunity to do more online. For us, we’re focused on creating a printing environment that is connected to the cloud and uses a secure mobile platform to allow a truly digitized workflow, accessible wherever you are.

This push into truly connected hardware, software and service will become even more important post pandemic, where document management and processing are seen as a holistic service. Connecting these data points will not only provide a foundation for digital transformation, but also increase reliability, quality, and productivity.

A whole new type of IT landscape

There’s never been a better time to seek more than just a hardware refresh of your portfolio. It’s critical to ensure you select the right equipment and work with a provider that has the right set of printing tools and collection of office technology that caters to the vision of how we are seeing the future of work evolve.

With Konica Minolta named a worldwide leader in IDC’s Marketscape, we can help support you on your office technology transformation as you prepare to embrace the hybrid workforce. Find out more here, or check out the on-demand webinar featuring even more insights!

Konica Minolta

Konica Minolta aims to partner with clients to Give Shape to Ideas by supporting their digital transformation through its expansive Intelligent Connected Workplace portfolio. Its business technology offerings include IT Services, intelligent information management, video security solutions and managed print services, as well as office technology and industrial and commercial print solutions.