Outdated print infrastructure is a major obstacle to businesses wishing to invest in cloud migration, a new study commissioned by global imaging solutions leader Lexmark has revealed.

The study, conducted by IDC in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, found 57% of surveyed businesses said lingering print infrastructure is negatively impacting their cloud migration strategy, yet only 43% are investing in print infrastructure that drives digital transformation (DX) initiatives.

Essential workflow processes still have significant integrated printing requirements, with the study identifying operations, supply chain, distribution, finance, marketing, sales, and human resources as the business units with the most critical printing needs.

“Cloud-based print infrastructure is a key strategic initiative that companies can invest in to complete their cloud strategy and adopt a digital-first approach to their business processes,” Lexmark Australia and New Zealand managing director, Stephen Bell said.

“The pandemic has exposed gaps and weaknesses in IT infrastructure, with print among the most critical areas lagging in companies’ digital transformation journeys.”

The businesses surveyed stated the most significant challenges to managing legacy print infrastructure included security (81%); IT management (81%); inventory management (81%); a lack of visibility into spending (80%); and difficulty in updating or replacing hardware (79%).

“IDC believes it is time for organisations to start thinking about print more strategically – to elevate the conversation around print and include it within the broader context of their DX discussions related to cloud migration and document process strategies,” IDC Research vice president for research, imaging, printing, and document solutions, Robert Palmer said.

IT leaders appear to be united on a preference for as-a-service consumption models over financing (70% vs 22%), and a recognition (94% agree) that the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to improve printer fleet management.

“IT leaders recognise the benefits of cloud and IoT. Delivering print as an IoT product-as-a-service will accelerate business agility and simplify IT management and acquisition, while improving the user experience for customers. Cloud print infrastructure as-a-service provides access to a modern and secure print infrastructure that can provide a basis for future digital transformation initiatives,” Bell added.