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John Shane

Print-as-a-Service Has Exploded for WFH Employees During the Pandemic

Vendors without PaaS plans will lose out on a big opportunity

Dec 9, 2021 11:22:28 AM


In December 2019, three months before most people had heard the word “coronavirus,” Keypoint Intelligence delivered a fascinating multiclient study on what small businesses want most in a Print-as-a-Service (PaaS) plan. At the time, of course, we had no idea that the world of office work would be turned on its head and more people would be working at home than in the office. But the findings of that multiclient are very applicable to our new world of work and the expectation that more than half of us are likely to continue to work at home at least part of the time for the foreseeable future.


A major finding of that multiclient was that there are four key features desired in a PaaS plan:

  • Toner/Ink automatically arrive
  • Minimize printing cost
  • Monthly plan with an opt-out
  • Service arrives in the unlikely event that something breaks


In that pre-pandemic world of December 2019, our research indicated that the potential market for PaaS was about 35% share of devices used in small businesses.


Print-as-a-Service Has Exploded During the Pandemic

Keypoint Intelligence’s new The Future Office survey, conducted among working-from-home employees in the US and in Europe, vividly demonstrates that while PaaS was a great idea before the pandemic, it’s now an absolute requirement for vendors who want to keep a significant piece of the work from home (WFH) print market.


The image below shows what devices WFH users have to print for work based on how they were acquired and how ink/toner are paid for in the US and Western Europe. The highlighted sections show PaaS offerings.


How WFH users received their printing device and the share of supplies that are acquired under a PaaS plan.


There are two big takeaways from this image:

  • Employees who have printers that are newly acquired during the pandemic report that they are far more likely (at least twice as more) to be attached to a form of Print-as-a-Service for ink or toner when compared with employees who are still using a printer that they already had from before the pandemic.
  • When an employee is using a device that their employer had delivered to them, close to 75% of respondents report that those devices are attached to a PaaS plan.


The Message Is Crystal Clear: Offer PaaS or Die

Any vendor who wants not just to survive but thrive among WFH users must offer a Print-as-a-Service plan for supplies directly or through the reseller. Failure to do so could mean that they will not even be considered when it’s time to get a new machine by more than half of all buyers. A PaaS offering is required. No equivocating. End of story.


A vivid demonstration of how popular PaaS has become when so many employees were sent to work from home comes from HP. In the decade or so that HP has offered Instant ink to users, they had about 5 million Instant in users just before the pandemic. In the less than 2 years since everyone vacated their offices and rushed home to work, that number has doubled!


Don’t Think That the Eventual End of the Pandemic Will Change Things

Regardless of how much office document printing will survive the pandemic, it’s clear that COVID-19 has changed how people view work for the foreseeable future. No one who reads business news can come away thinking that things will go back to pre-pandemic in terms of where people work and print. More people are working at home and in huge numbers. Over 50% of workers will be hybrid or full time at home in the post-pandemic world of office documents. Even when it eventually ends, the pandemic’s effect on the market will not mean a decreased importance for PaaS. It will be essential for a long, long time.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Print-as-a-Service was a great idea before the pandemic. Now (and for the foreseeable future), it’s a requirement. PaaS is as essential as offering MFPs instead of just single function printers. Any vendor who hopes to ride out the pandemic offering the same old same old and expecting things to return to normal are doomed.


Log in to the InfoCenter to view the US and WE versions of our Future Office Survey chart decks. If you’re not a subscriber, just send us an email at sales@keypointintelligence.com for more info.