Will the printer industry eventually die?
I think most people will answer the above question with an unequivocal “of course it will die”, and this answer is no doubt based on the rapidity at which digital accessibility is growing (not to mention how happy our youth are on their screens!).
Perhaps then the question should be “how quickly” will it die?
With respect to home printing, the stats show that since 2009 there has been a 9%- 15% decline in the sales of home printers. In this sector, I can safely say that as printers stand, the writing is on the wall! Laser and ink printers in their current state, will die, however the industry will probably morph with the rate of technology into a more exciting 3D advancement that takes the flatness from the page and allows you to hold and feel the angles of the image in your hands.
Office printing is slightly less revealing of its future, as there is only a slow decline of 2% per annum in office printer sales and a 1% decrease in office paper sales. Businesses are becoming more aware of how much they print and Managed Print Services (MPS) providers that assist with print reduction and hardware optimisation may also be diminishing the need for so many printers in the field.
Businesses are still very reliant on printing for their business processes and it would appear, that unless a top down decision is made to reduce and ultimately eliminate print, office printing may be around for a very long time - or will it?
The growth of Digitalisation and its implementation will also have a significant effect on print volumes in businesses. Document Management Systems that include biometrics, digital signatures, document security and general digitisation will in time affect the printer industry, it’s really just a case of how quickly it grows!
The Merging Future has looked at the human intuitive perspective of technological advancement over 5 to 50 years and the predicted exponential growth of technology is astounding. Computers are currently doubling their capacity every 12-18 months to the extent that in 5 years time technology will have multiplied itself thirty-two times. This progress is known as the law of accelerating returns.
As we continue into the future, the 10 year factor is 1024 times and in 20 years technological advancement will have grown by a factor of over 1 million. The numbers are potentially hard to believe, however who would have thought that you can, at this moment in time, search the internet on your glasses while being driven by a car with no driver.
What’s more, the inventor of this car wants to travel between any two cities in the world in less than 30 minutes, in his super rocket, which he will start to build in 6-9 months time!
Perspective is important though, and while a paperless world (and therefore a dead printer industry) does seem way off, technological growth has gone beyond the norm, so radical change in the world of the printer is probably going to take place sooner than we think.
A workflow is there to optimise business processes. Optimisation will inherently increase productivity, while adhering to your organisation’s document control policies and security.
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