The use of IoT technology will only continue to grow, with some forecasts predicting that the number of IoT connections will balloon from 6 billion in 2015 to nearly 27 billion by 2025.
Major applications, such as Nest thermostats and smart appliances, will attract a lot of attention for their obvious consumer interest. However, while it might not seem as superficially exciting, IoT capabilities promise to radically reshape the world of printing.
Unleashing a slew of new functionalities and services, IoT will make printing in professional contexts more seamless and efficient than ever before, prompting a new generation of smart printers and smart printing.
More Than Just Remote Printing
It can be easy to write off IoT-enabled printing as little more than the maturing of remote printing technology. But what’s happening right now with IoT-enabled printing is much more impactful than just improvements to technologies that have been available for more than a decade.
For example, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology – which will be built upon IoT capabilities - has the potential to near-fully automate printing services in an office space. Properly deployed, a M2M-enabled printing ecosystem could enable futuristic conveniences like automatic ink replenishment.
With the way M2M technology has grown in recent years, and the ever-decreasing cost of deploying the relevant sensors, one can easily imagine an office space which has multiple recurring print operations completely automated by low-cost sensors. It may seem trivial from the outside, but for anyone working in an office where there are multiple daily print operations that need to be completed, this added efficiency can have a major impact on daily productivity.
Beyond the Hardware
However, when we think of the potential of the IoT we need to think beyond the product. M2M-enabled automation in our daily printing operations will do wonders for individual productivity, but the growth of sensors and cloud connectivity have the potential to innovate the services associated with printing, particularly through Managed Print Services (MPS).
IoT-enabled MPS allows us to improve how we provide these services in ways that were unthinkable not that long ago. Diagnostic sensors can provide real-time telemetry on printer performance, helping organizations avoid costly repairs by making it possible to do preemptive repairs. Similarly, detailed information on device usage can help MPS providers redistribute printing resources within an office, library or other campus, to better suit user needs. These are only a couple of the many possibilities that exist with IoT-enabled MSP.
Ensuring an IoT-Enabled Future is a Positive Future
It can be hard to believe some of the predictions that are surfacing with regards to the future growth of the IoT. And a healthy dose of skepticism will do all of us wonders as we continue to ponder this connected future. However, the growth of IoT-enabled printing products and solutions isn’t on the horizon- it’s already here.
Our task as manufacturers is therefore twofold. Firstly, we must secure this nexus of new connections with cutting-edge cybersecurity. IoT innovation is increasingly quickly. We can’t let security fall behind – it must be ahead of the game.
Secondly, we should be ambitious with our incorporation of IoT into traditional professional devices and services. IoT-enabled technology holds a great deal of potential. It’s up to manufacturers to embrace these capabilities so that our customers and partners can benefit.