It would be fair to say that the direct role of the office MFP/Printer has changed drastically over recent years, a trend that I don’t see adjusting in the near to mid future. It seems that these devices are merging themselves away from being purely hardcopy output devices to information and productivity centres, connected to the network.
With some being able to connect to the internet, utilise embedded software and in some cases run basic forms of windows/linux, these machines are getting more and more advanced – but are the end users, and more importantly those selling these devices and services advancing at the same pace?
I may be accused of having watched far too much Game Of Thrones with the following statement, but I also wonder if there is a giant battle brewing on the horizon between 3rd party solutions developers and the hardware manufacturers themselves?
Some would argue that this battle has been on-going for some time, but are we now heading towards the major part of the conflict?
Manufacturers such as Xerox, HP, Konica Minolta and others are essentially developing complete ecosystems within their devices, providing the ability to download/run applications, connect to their own cloud services and in some cases allow for development and customisation of the device. But on top of this, many are producing, developing and heavily promoting their own “workflow” solutions in order to create a seamless environment, and most likely to try and boost profits given the little left in tin for so many years.
So do the 3rd party providers in areas such as document capture, archiving & more need to step up their game?
Recent feedback from the reseller channel has been very much about the advancing features of the latest MFP’s, reducing the need to investigate or promote 3rd party solutions that previously would have been essential for what the customer wanted to achieve.
It’s interesting times in the world of hardware and solutions, and I’m not convinced it’s a space that both manufacturers and 3rd party providers can share, at least not nicely!
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