Research giant Gartner’s top strategic technology trends for 2016 have been defined as those with the potential to make a significant impact on business. As we approach the end of the year, which of these have impacted the printing space to-date and how is the market evolving?
1. The Device Mesh
Forget the smartphone — that is just the starting point of the device mesh. According to Gartner, the era of the device mesh means accessing information and apps via all kinds of devices, from phones, watches and wearables to printers, smart TVs, sensors in homes and even the car dashboard.
Not to be left behind, printers have evolved as well. No longer are they simple output devices connected to computers over a network architecture. Instead, modern business printers give users the option to connect and print information stored on mobile phones, tablet computers, and popular cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Tasks can be streamlined and digitised, allowing more projects to be completed.
For businesses migrating to cloud computing services, it also helps to cut through hardware complexities and roadblocks by syncing data from any location with an internet connection and store time-sensitive materials.
All these bridge the tangibility of printing processes with the intangibility of the cloud, thus adapting to the changing needs of a modern business.
2. A New Era for Smart Printing
The Internet of Things (IoT) has already changed the face of consumer products, and it is set to revolutionise the business process landscape. Fuelled by machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, IoT is designed to connect internet-enabled devices in a hive, allowing them to be connected, monitored, managed remotely, and generate actionable data. For businesses, this networked world of smart devices has the potential to improve efficiency by reducing operating and maintenance costs.
In the print industry, proactive maintenance is now moving into the realm of preventive maintenance, enabling printers to deliver consistent results and extend its working life. By enforcing preventive maintenance, such as regular cleaning of the paper pickup rollers to remove dust and grime, consumers can reduce the need for frequent service calls. This ensures that their workflow will not be impacted negatively at critical times, once again helping save operating costs.
In addition, many smart printers and MFPs (multifunction peripherals) today are equipped with embedded technology that enables remote management – allowing automated meter readings, automatic updates on the state of supplies (such as prompting online purchase when ink levels are low), and remote diagnostics. These conveniences provide businesses with better uptime and greater productivity that can translate into greater savings.
Other benefits of smart printing include:
Improved Service Quality: data collected, such as usage patterns, can be used for the development of new printers to meet the changing needs and requirements of the customer.
Sustainability: real-time data can be used to optimise energy usage for devices, reducing environmental impact and related carbon emissions. For instance, machines can be put into a light or deep sleep mode, based on usage.
3. Adaptive Security Architecture
Data and infrastructure security systems need to be more flexible and agile; to continue protecting businesses against new threats and an emerging “hacker industry”, especially companies utilising more cloud-based services. Some printers, like the Canon MAXIFY business inkjet printers, are designed with multiple levels of administrative control, which is especially important when handling confidential documents. Not only can you set a conditional password, you can also disable the USB front port so data cannot be spirited away on portable storage devices.
Printing is one of the most basic yet essential business processes, and one that will see a continued evolution with time. The printer industry looks set to head towards more personalisation to fit individual working styles, while ensuring greater productivity, efficiency and savings for businesses and consumers. All this is bound to happen at an even faster pace with IoT.