Internet of Things: A New Era for Smart Printing?

The following is written by Louella Fernandes of Quocirca

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionise the consumer and business landscape. According to a report by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit, sponsored by ARM, over three quarters of companies are using or planning to deploy some form of IOT. What are the implications for one key area of the next generation connected enterprise – the print infrastructure?

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 1.36.52 PMFueled by machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, the Internet of Things (IoT) is all about connecting a wide range of internet-enabled devices – from cars, lighting, smart meters and more – that generate actionable data. Thanks to innovations in smart sensors and RFID chips, devices are becoming more intelligent assets that can be connected, monitored and managed remotely. In the enterprise, this networked world of smart devices has the potential to improve business efficiency, reducing operating and maintenance costs.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 9.17.10 AMIn the print industry, proactive maintenance and support is nothing new. Today, many smart printers and MFPs (multifunction peripherals) are equipped with embedded technology to enable remote management. This enables automated meter readings, automatic supplies replenishment and remote diagnostics which provide a business with better uptime and greater productivity. For instance, devices may send alerts when service is required or when consumables, such as ink or toner, need replenishment.

Automated monitoring and proactive management is the foundation of a managed print service (MPS). Quocirca estimates that over 40% of enterprises are using some form of MPS to better control and manage their printer and MFP fleets. Due to the lack of standardisation between printer brands, MPS providers typically need to use either a combination of tools, or a centralised brand-agnostic tool that can track and monitor usage and device status across a mixed fleet.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 12.16.35 PMSo could print management across a heterogeneous fleet be simplified with the addition of smart sensors which are standardised across devices?

IoT/M2M technology has the potential to make a profound change in the evolving print industry that is having to adapt to the proliferation of mobile devices and ubiquitous connectivity. Smartphones and printers are already talking to each other via near-field communications (NFC) – and future innovations could use M2M communications to ensure standardised mobile printing regardless of mobile OS or printer brand.

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About the Author

With over 20 years’ experience in the print industry, Louella Fernandes is a respected and globally recognised analyst focusing on the evolution of business printing. Louella is currently Associate Director for Print Services and Solutions at Quocirca.