At this year’s Bett show, PCR caught up with Epson UK’s business imaging manager Peter Silcock to talk about the firm's environmental message, how MPS is increasing in schools, and why Epson’s projectors are helping it sell more printers.
What is your main focus at Bett 2016?
A key focus for us is the environmental message. One of the things we’re launching here is our compatibility with PaperCut – I think it shows our maturity in terms of our proposition for education.
A lot of education customers expect to see PaperCut in their devices and we believe that our products can greatly reduce schools’ energy usage compared to laser technology.
PaperCut helps us because it fits into the environment schools have, so they’re looking to take our products and embed them into their schools and with PaperCut you can do that because you can use an agnostic driver and treat us like any other device. It’s a really easy way of getting into a more environmental solution than what you might already have.
Any particular products that have done well at the show?
Yeah, two devices actually. Firstly, the RIPS (Replaceable Ink Pack System) device that has large bags of ink rather than ink cartridges or toner cartridges. It can print up to 75,000 pages before they need replacing. For many schools that might be a year or even two without printing interruptions.
The other product getting attention is the PaperCut on the 5690, which is our smallest product. Usually, PaperCut is compatible on the higher devices, but not necessarily on the smaller devices you might have in your classroom. So many schools are very conscious of the cost of printing and print devices, but allow the smaller devices to almost escape and not actually manage those as well as they could. So we have a solution for £300 that can manage that as well as the bigger devices can.
How important is the education sector to Epson?
We are predominantly known in education for our projectors and we have around 60 per cent market share there. We have interactive devices that are very well known in within the school environment, so we’ve used that as a way of introducing our printers, because we’re not so well known for our printer side in education.
We’ve had a lot of success in education with our small desktop printers in the classroom as they’re wireless, easy to maintain, low-cost and simple to use.
We’re building our repertoire of products that go into schools and it’s really growing.
How important is coming along to a show like Bett and how has it been this year?
It’s been really good this year. We’ve got a greater emphasis on print because of our approach to more solutions-based devices and MPS (managed print services).
A show like this is imperative to be able to talk to schools directly and find out what the trends are. For us it’s vital that we’re at Bett because we get so much back from it.
What would you say to a tech firm that isn’t interested in selling into the education sector?
We are talking about the future of the UK. The teachers are teaching the children who will be leading and running the country in 15-20 years. If you can influence a teacher and show them different things you can do with products like ours, they will take that back to the classroom and spread that message out to the children. I find that really interesting and great to be a part of.
What do you think will be the next big thing in education tech?
I think the environment message – it’s already very important in schools. They talk about turning lights off, not printing things unnecessarily. You see it all over the place at schools. It’s easy to say it, but not always easy to do it.
I think that in the near future we will HAVE to do it. In the next 3-5 years there won’t be a choice of using an expensive alternative or an energy-hungry device, we will have to go down a path where we HAVE to cut the amount of greenhouse gasses we produce and do things in a different way.
Epson is showing solutions that give an insight into how you can do that in the future. We’re showing a different approach for a good reason, and that is for the good of the country.
How has the print market changed over the years?
Schools, like any businesses, are looking to buy more than just the device. The days of just buying a device and the inks to go with it are probably coming to an end. MPS has been growing and solutions are the way forward. For us, we are moving far more into that approach.