Latest Research Shows Cloud Computing to Transform Workflow Market

InfoTrends has just released a major study on cloud computing in the production workflow market. In October and November 2013, InfoTrends surveyed over 600 print service providers (PSPs) in the U.S., Western Europe and Asia Pacific (incl. Japan). We also spoke with Digital Equipment & Workflow Vendors, Distributors, Cloud Services Providers, and Legal Experts to provide an in-depth understanding of how cloud computing is impacting the production workflow market.

The conclusions are not surprising: despite data security and bandwidth concerns, the cloud is rapidly gaining momentum. In the years to come, we can expect the share of subscription based solutions to grow quickly as vendors are moving more to software as a service (SaaS) but also PSPs are increasingly preferring an operational expense model rather than an upfront capital expense.

For workflow vendors that want to move their on-premise, licensed solutions to the cloud there are multiple paths to success with each option having pros and cons. The best strategy depends on multiple factors such as the vendor’s attitude toward risk, the sales/distribution channel’s ability to move to SaaS, complexity of the solution, and competitive pressure.Today most vendors (understandably) do not want to abolish licensed solution sales, especially if they have a large customer base that generates a sizeable amount of maintenance revenue. At the same time vendors are looking at the cloud as an opportunity for future growth. Therefore most vendors are looking for ways to complement or differentiate existing offerings; and are being very careful not to let SaaS jeopardize their existing licensed solution sales. The development of a scaled-down SaaS version to go after the lower end of the market is a popular strategy, as well as having a full SaaS version that is specifically developed for a non-core (adjacent) market segment.

Finally, we expect cloud workflow to evolve from a single solutions model to a more network model, in which equipment manufacturers aggregate various cloud solutions in the market, integrate them server-side, and offer them via a modular app/marketplace approach to their customers. This enables them to provide flexible and scalable end-to-end applications for both print and online applications, as well as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities that allow for rapid programming and deployment of applications by themselves as well as by partners or customers.  The cloud offers tremendous opportunities for vendors to develop new service offerings, bring new levels of innovation in mature markets, and serve existing and new customers in better and more flexible ways.

Also for PSPs, using a SaaS model brings new level of benefits in terms of cash flow, risk, and lower capital outlays. Customer on-boarding, as well as integration with customers’ systems works often quicker through the cloud. And lastly, PSPs that develop homegrown software should take a look at using PaaS as this will speed up development and deployment time.

For workflow vendors, distributors, and PSPs that want to learn more about this in-depth and critical study, please contact Scott Phinney (scott.phinney@infotrends.com) at +1 781 616 2123.

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