Autumn is conference season for politicians and printer companies. In the last month PITR has been crisscrossing Europe, eating and drinking too much and staying in the most luxurious hotels all in the interests of news gathering. This year’s season has been particularly busy with Canon Expo, which takes place every fie years, and Sharp’s Inspire Expo, last held in 2012, vying for attention with relative newcomers like Samsung Futurescape. Providing a showcase for many different products and technologies, events of this nature have a particular significance at a time when devices, including printers and MFPs, are becoming more and more inter-connected. This opens up new opportunities for the printer channel, giving dealers scope to branch out into other product areas, such as displays, the cloud and collaboration solutions, all linked together and possibly even provided under the umbrella of a single managed service. In their eagerness to advertise these new possibilities vendors risk under-selling the importance of print and developing an unhealthy and unwarranted inferiority complex about one of their core technologies.
In fact, printer vendors and the dealers who service their machines are in some ways ahead of the curve when it comes to device interconnectedness and could have a significant role to play in the Internet of Things (IoT). At last month’s Futurescape event (see page 18), Paul Birkett, sales and marketing director of Samsung Electronics Europe, pointed out to PrintIT Reseller that the IoT is all about sensors, data collection and control systems. In other words, it needs physical support. And who better to provide that than copier companies that over the years have developed sophisticated management platforms to manage customer devices remotely. He pointed out that an average MFP has 1,400 sensors and that an organisation that manages more than 200 print devices remotely is already monitoring more sensors than a brand new nuclear power station. I don’t know if that is inspiring or disturbing.
Of course, taking pride in print and printers should not blind one to the challenges that printer companies face. In AIIM’s latest progress report on digitisation and the paperless office (page 34), 49% of information professionals surveyed said that paper volumes in their organisation were falling, compared to 20% who said they were increasing – a net positive score of 29%. In 2011, the net positive score was just 3%.
James Goulding, Editor.
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