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Five key trends

Erosion of legacy revenue streams driven by hardware commoditisation and the ongoing transition to digitisation are forcing industry players to consider new ways of remaining relevant to enterprise customers, says Louella Fernandes, Director, Quocirca. To remain relevant in the rapidly changing digital workplace, manufacturers and their partners should capitalise on the following five trends in the coming year

1 Cloud
In 2020, cloud print management platforms will emerge that can handle multi-cloud, hybrid and edge as a single platform.

Cloud as an enabler for businesses is radically different from traditional IT outsourcing, moving away from an upfront capital cost, software licence and maintenance model to a subscription based model. Long-established MPS providers have recognised this, adding cloud to their service range in a bid to differentiate their offerings. ISVs are also stepping up to the mark, expanding their cloud print management offerings.

Beyond cloud MPS, the long-term opportunity lies in developing strategic cloud platforms and partnering with other cloud partners to create a platform that can manage device fleets, users and analytics. The use of public cloud platforms also brings significant opportunities for manufacturers to build an IoT strategy and leverage existing IoT analytic platforms – AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure all offer such cloud IoT platforms that support a managed IoT service.

2 Smart MFPs
Through 2020, the positioning of smart MFPs as intelligent digital workplace productivity devices will demand a strong and broad portfolio of digital workflow solutions as well as a channel ready to transition to the more of a software and services model. While digital workflow apps are a first step to integrating the smart MFP with digital business processes, the more lucrative services will be around more complex business process and workflow automation.

MPS will remain a potential enabler for digital transformation, and it will be by positioning the true value of the smart MFP as a digital workplace tool that industry players will make the most ground.

3 Analytics
While many print manufacturers leverage predictive analytics for proactive maintenance purposes, next generation MPS will be driven by deeper actionable insights on how to better automate existing business processes. This means looking beyond traditional print infrastructure analytics to develop customer insight and how to integrate analytics into new service propositions.

Data visualisation and advanced dashboards will be key in developing enhanced analytics. These capabilities will become a key differentiator for nextgeneration print management solutions.

As machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) become more mainstream, MPS providers must embrace these capabilities to add appreciable value to their services. Alongside predictive analytics, AI and ML analytics can be used to look at information flows providing insight into how to optimise business process workflows. Meanwhile, analysis of content, using techniques such as data leak prevention (DLP) can help in ensuring that an organisation’s information security policies are adhered to.

4 From products to platforms
The industry must make faster changes to move from products to platforms, this will provide more opportunities for broader value-add services, particularly if integrated with cloud IoT platforms.

In 2020 and beyond, a thriving developer ecosystem will be critical to the success for manufacturers and their partners. Developers are central to digital innovation and fundamental to the success of today’s smart MFP embedded workflow platforms. A platform model is perhaps the strongest opportunity for manufacturers to build an ecosystem around MFPs to support digital transformation initiatives.

Going forward, APIs and engagement with developers will require more consideration as manufacturers develop their digital business models. There is certainly a wide-open opportunity for manufacturers to build stronger relationships with the developer community and differentiate their developer ecosystems.

Ultimately it will be the open platforms with ecosystems that allow partners, customers and users to coinnovate that gradually overtake closed, proprietary platforms. It will be those manufacturers that operate as software companies that will be more likely to drive innovation and move beyond the hardware commodity transactional model.

5 Security
The ever-changing security landscape will demand intelligent multi-layered security solutions and services, and IT security teams will favour those suppliers with IT-centric security expertise.

To address the new realities of the complex IT landscape, next-generation MPS providers need new skills and expertise to drive new revenue streams. Beyond the standard MPS security assessments, MPS providers should be able to deliver remote monitoring and security intelligence to help accelerate remediation across heterogeneous environments. Those that can successfully deliver highly differentiated security offerings will be best positioned to gain a significant competitive advantage.