More (...) smart era

Within the next few years, a staggering 25billion plus devices will be connected to the internet. The printing industry is something of an innovator here, having been benefitting from connecting devices to networks since the very early days of the technology being available.

Within the next few years, a staggering 25 billion plus devices will be connected to the internet – not just our smartphones and tablets, but our TVs, our fridges, and even our home heating systems.

It’s not just useful for domestic consumers to be able to switch the heating on from the train on their commute home, however, businesses of all sizes can also reap the benefits. The printing industry is something of an innovator here, having been benefitting from connecting devices to networks since the very early days of the technology being available.

Systems like Kodak’s Prinergy, and more recently, HP’s PrintOS streamline processes to the extent that all stages of content production can be managed online. Recent developments can even be managed from mobile devices, making on the go monitoring of workflow even more efficient. For printing firms, this network of internet-connected devices is a valuable tool, although the number of what are known as ‘dumb’ machines is still an issue.

Connectivity is a sticking point between manufacturers and devices

That connectivity is a sticking point between manufacturers, and as with all Internet of Things – or IoT – devices, a lack of standards is at the centre of it. Unifying variations in technology is essential for that smart connectivity to work as it should. A useful comparison is the differences in meaning and nuance in how English is spoken and written around the world – it’s still the same root language, but anything from spellings to individual words can differ from country to country. A common platform for connectivity might initially be restrictive, but that standard would eventually pay dividends.

To reach that standard, it is necessary to gather data in the cloud, enabling customers to track jobs as they happen, and to monitor the process at every stage. The potential to view anything from print quality to the type of paper used will be ground-breaking for print firms of all sizes.

The concern, however, is that security isn’t what it could be – the more devices connected to a company network, the more likely a cyber attack of some sort becomes. Whether it’s a competitor mining information, or a hacker playing around to lift customer names and passwords, it’s important for firms to get on board early with a security policy for increased IoT connectivity. The challenge is that whilst the computer system might be securely firewalled, the printer isn’t.

The technology is still new and future possibilities are incredibly exciting, and with regard to security, if a firm is thinking far enough ahead they are likely to be more attuned to security needs in the modern business age.

For print companies of all sizes, being able to manage all aspects of a job from a phone or tablet is a benefit that will outweigh any teething troubles which still need ironing out.

Source: PrintWeek

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