The cost of IT downtime

Businesses report losing around €24 billion because of IT system and hardware downtime. We look at how this can be addressed.

The cost of IT downtime

Distributed print model can unlock huge productivity gains

Productivity lost as a result of poor IT infrastructure and printer fleet management is a significant problem for many European businesses as they strive to remain competitive in the challenging global economy.  Research commissioned by Epson Europe in the first quarter of 2014, which looked at 1,250 medium and large businesses in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, revealed the staggering scale of the issue. On average, these businesses report losing around one working weeks’ worth of productivity per year, per employee as a result of IT system and hardware downtime, which equates to a total annual productivity cost in the region of €24 billion; €7 billion of which can be directly attributed to issues associated with printers.

To address this challenge, smart businesses should be paying more attention to their management of IT systems, and taking a longer term and more strategic view of print fleet strategies.  In particular, those with centralised print models should be assessing this approach, acknowledging that it is no longer ideal for every business or departmental need and that it has some clear limitations when it comes to productivity.

The Waiting Game

The selection of a suitable printer type and fleet structure is of fundamental importance to business delivery and productivity, and must be properly aligned to each business’ workplace and workgroup footprint.  Our research shows that patience is wearing  thin among employees still working with centralised print models.  Two of the top productivity frustrations revealed by employees were those associated with printer maintenance (57%) and the downtime resulting from print queues and having to leave workspaces to retrieve prints (48%) from central printer banks.  These frustrations can undermine employee motivation and, ultimately, business efficiency.

For many businesses, the workplace is now characterised by smaller workgroups that require a more flexible and accessible print model.  The logical choice for such businesses is a distributed printer fleet, where printers are located in close proximity to workgroups and are locally controlled for improved employee performance, motivation and productivity.

Historically, distributed printer fleets have not always been a palatable solution for businesses because of the perceived challenges associated with predicting print costs and managing maintenance.  This view is changing and new technologies are emerging from Epson to alleviate these concerns.

New Printer Technologies Showing the Way

New inkjet technologies such as our Replaceable Ink Pack Systems (RIPS), which enable continuous printing for up to 75,000 pages without the need for consumables replacements, offer a genuine solution to address print fleet model structures.  These printers can print uninterrupted for an average of three years, making them a more manageable solution for a distributed fleet model and a more attractive proposition for Managed Print Service (MPS) providers.  As a result, these products, managed via MPS contracts, are able to offer the predictable cost of a centralised print model, but the convenience and productivity benefits of a distributed solution.

Indeed, inkjet printers in general are now emerging as serious alternatives to laser printers in business environments, offering speed, reliability and energy-efficiency advantages.  According to research firm IDC, inkjet printers are increasing their penetration of business print systems, growing at a rate of 12% per year, even in years when laser sales have declined.  IDC also projects that business inkjet products will account for 25% of the business printer and multifunction market by 2017.


Making the Move to Managed Print Services?

In order to unlock greater business efficiencies and productivity gains, more companies are starting to closely evaluate the perceived benefits of owning technology systems and printer hardware outright rather than leasing these through managed solutions.  According to our research, 72% of companies currently own their printers with 70% managing and maintaining them internally; but when asked, 60% said they are already looking to make the switch to Managed Print Services, with almost half of them expecting to do so in the next two years.

The expectation that so many European businesses will move to managed print services is a significant trend.  Those making the move should think as holistically as possible about this undertaking, taking into account the print technology and fleet distribution model most suitable for their organisation.

Indeed, for some organisations, the relatively small change of moving to another printer technology or fleet model might be the key to their realisation of huge productivity and bottom-line gains.

Click here to find out more about Epson’s range of RIPS printers.