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Deborah Hawkins has a history of more than 30 years in the document industry, which saw the shift from analogue to digital, standalone to networked, the emergence of solutions, and most recently a push into IT services. As one of our subject matter experts at Keypoint Intelligence, Deborah has extensive consulting skills and has helped major industry brands to expand strategies and explore new ground. Deborah also possesses a broad knowledge base of market research with experience in market sizing, forecasting, and competitive analysis.
Sam Keller: The office document industry is ever-evolving, especially as the world around us changes. What specific topics about the industry at the moment is of interest to you and are currently researching?
Deborah Hawkins: The office document industry is undergoing a lot of change. We know that print volume is declining, yet we know that print remains essential for business communications. Work location is changing as a result of the experiences during the pandemic—hybrid work forms have become acceptable, and technology we offer has to adapt to that. Most people strive to become more environmentally conscious, and this affects our relationship with print and how it is produced. Our research in the Office Group revolves around helping clients to understand these changes and its speed of transformation so they can be ready for what’s coming next. For many, that means diversification to new focus areas to complement the print offering.
SK: For sure. Declining print volume and environmental consciousness are inevitable factors that will affect this industry. What specific ways the office industry can diversify to respond to these changes?
DH: Well firstly, hybrid workers need special attention, and their technology requirements are not the same as office-based workers. That means that any kind of offering needs adapting for the hybrid worker. Different communication tools, different workflows, and different points of interface ensure inclusion so no one feels left out or disengaged and that productivity as well as creativity can be achieved. Diversification might mean expanding to new suppliers, not only to expand portfolio but also to minimize supply chain issues that are expected to be with us for a long time yet. Diversification means document workflows are transitioning rapidly to digital too, and that is where we as an industry dock onto broader IT and need to be recognized as a true contender.
SK: Hybrid work definitely impacts our relationship with print, and with that presents new challenges, How can the office industry improve customer IT services and bridge potential gaps?
DH: Companies, whether large or small, are experiencing great areas of rapid change, and IT has become very much the center point to facilitate that change. Security is an area of IT that everyone can relate to—and be an active participant in preventing cybersecurity breaches. Our research has shown that cybersecurity has become a top operational challenge and is often one that cannot be served with existing IT resources. Considering the proximity to print and networked devices, this is an area where many look to their print vendors to support them, rather than using their own staff. And we can help vendors in this space, too. In case you don’t know about Keypoint Intelligence’s range of security offerings, it’s worth checking those out (Security Validation, Security Cameras).
SK: Inflation affects us all. How has that specifically impacted the office document industry?
DH: One of the areas we recently dove deep into was the effects of inflation on the document industry. This is a shorter-term analysis as a reaction to current economic events and is a good example of how we can advise our clients. By looking at each of the vertical sector dependencies on energy and rising prices, we were able to measure worst case scenarios for effect on print volume.
Click here to read some of Deborah’s blogs. If you would like to access her in-depth research in the office document industry, please fill out this form. Or if you’re a subscriber, log in to the InfoCenter to view reports and studies through our Office CompleteView Advisory Service.