IT underperformance across EU5 businesses results in annual €24 billion in lost productivity

  • €7 billion of this cost attributed to printers
  • Lack of strategic IT spending compromising businesses’ ability to perform competitively and efficiently
  • Employee printer frustrations driven by centralised print issues and product maintenance requirements

March 2014 - Research1 commissioned by Epson Europe has exposed a series of short falls in the way that IT and printing technology is managed and distributed within businesses. The findings suggest that on average, around one working week per year, per employee, is lost as a result of IT systems and hardware downtime, equating to an annual productivity cost in the region of €24 billion across EU5 businesses. Of this, almost a third is attributed to printers, equating to around €7 billion.

The research, conducted by Coleman Parkes, looked at 1,250 EU5 medium and large businesses, and examined the way that technology, in particular print, is bought, used and managed.

The research results give insight into significant product underperformance and possible reasons for it.

Product procurement

Over half of businesses (55%) expect IT budgets to increase for the coming year. 53% also plan to upgrade products within the next 6-12 months, with the primary driver for this cited as ‘the need [for] functionality that the current IT can’t support’ (48%).

However, less than a quarter of the planned IT budget is expected to be spent on strategic review and replacement of IT systems, while the remainder is ear-marked for maintenance, ad-hoc upgrades and addressing short-term pain points. This percentage is compromising businesses’ ability to be both competitive and efficient, with 69% and 70% admitting these concerns respectively.

When asked about buying decisions, almost half (48%) of the businesses questioned revealed they do not have a dedicated specialist IT department specifying product selection. This may go some way to explaining why, when asked about general issues affecting them, based on how critical they are in impacting the business function, 76% cited a ‘lack of suitable IT to support the business’ as being a major issue. This was topped only by ‘lack of clear business objectives’ and ‘lack of employee motivation’, indicating that suitable IT is of fundamental importance to business delivery.

Issues and frustrations

When looking at IT, employee frustrations are mainly the result of downtime and maintenance, and when asked more specifically about printers, frustrations with maintenance (57%) are joined by those resulting from centralised print models (48%) – queue times and having to leave work spaces to retrieve prints – all issues that impact employee time.

Rob Clark, Vice President of Marketing, Epson Europe, said: "The centralised print model is not ideal for every business and has clear limitations. Modern workplaces and smaller workgroups are more suited to the flexibility that distributed print models offer, removing frustrations associated with queue times and the need to leave workspaces to retrieve prints. All of these factors impact employee motivation and productivity, and ultimately business efficiency - meaning that small changes to printer type and fleet structure can deliver a big change to the bottom line.

"Recent additions to Epson’s business inkjet range offer an alternative to laser products and the centralised model, providing predictable print costs and the added benefits of a distributed printer fleet. In addition, these new products also remove the need to regularly replace consumables, meaning that concerns over consumables management can be alleviated."

Plans for improvement

Businesses are aware that they need to address issues with IT suitability and efficiency. When asked about the primary advantages of an IT and systems upgrade, 80% of businesses cited ‘improved employee productivity’, second only to ‘improved IT security’.

The vast majority of businesses currently own the technology systems and hardware within their organisations, with printers being owned outright by 72%, and 70% of these being managed internally too. When asked if this might move to a managed print solution, 60% advised that it will, with 44% planning to implement this within the next two years.

Rob Clark, continued: "The expectation that 60% of businesses will move to managed print services is interesting. We strongly recommend that as part of this move, they think carefully about the print technology and fleet distribution model most suitable for their organisation.

"EU businesses must consider carefully how increased IT budgets are spent, in order to address the vast loss in productivity they currently face. The current IT spend on immediate and short term issues needs to be reviewed and more focus should be put on strategic development that can deliver longer term cost and time efficiency."

1 Research conducted by Coleman Parkes on behalf of Epson Europe, among 1,250 EU5 businesses of 50 -500 and 500+ employees. Respondents were IT decision makers. 250 businesses took part per country (UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain) operating within the Financial, Retail and general corporate markets. Research took place February, 2014.