How IoT will change the office equipment services space

The Internet of Things is a blessing for hardware manufacturers and vendors who aim to offer advanced services. A clear example is the case of ABB Robotics in the industrial robotics market.

There are several other markets where these kinds of services can be leveraged. A particular one we have in mind is that of office equipment, such as multifunction devices (MFDs), document scanners and other equipment that is used a lot in most information-intensive companies (and are there many others in the age of information?).

IoT - the future of office equipment and information management

The market conditions for initiatives are there

In fact, there have been some vendor initiatives in the past but none really comprehensive. As office equipment gets smarter and embedded with better technologies to enhance input, output and anything else and as the prices of sensors go down, the market is ready for initiatives.

This is even more so as hardware becomes a bit a commodity, despite becoming more advanced, and the real margins in this economy of course sits in the services and how you can turn these into new sources of revenue.

Moreover, with the advent of a new Wi-Fi and new forms of Bluetooth, designed for device connectivity and the leverage of data in any connected area, including that of office equipment and document capture devices, things get even more interesting. Add to that the fact that, in general, the market of enterprise content management (ECM) and anything related to the handling, capture, routing, automating, optimizing and printing of information is in full consolidation, and the question becomes who will be the first mover.

The Internet of Things as the future of printing, scanning, information management and office equipment services

What can such an IoT solution do? It of course depends on how vendors would make the move and who they are. Think about open data. Think about the different parts within such devices and how they could be IoT-enabled.

Think about additional sensors that can be added (there is a sensor and actuator for pretty close to everything). And obviously think about the benefits, cost savings, added value and how an IoT-powered managed platform for office equipment could be rolled out.

As an example: in markets of high-volume document capture we typically speak about expensive installations and companies such as BPOs (business process outsourcing firms) or financial institutions who need maximum uptime and could benefit from pro-active services which are also cheaper as remote maintenance becomes possible as the case of ABB Robotics clearly shows.

In a large ecosystem with smart buildings and IoT-enable office equipment hardware, the data that can be sensed, analyzed and even combined with entirely different smart office platforms, lead to entirely other possibilities (productivity, noise, environment, energy, ordering parts, you name it).

That’s the beauty with the Internet of Things: just about anything can be connected and integrated with a purpose. And then it starts.

As the market matures and IoT ecosystems are built – to be connected – layer after layer of services can be added, from relatively simple support to information management, BPM, productivity insights, equipment usage and maintenance data and automation at the service of efficiency and visibility, all the way towards the interconnection of smart office and information integration, regardless of place, time and space, and with the possibility to offer managed services faster (pro-active), cheaper and from semi-automated and distant support hubs, no matter where the hardware sits.

It is not a question of ‘if’ but of ‘who’ and ‘when’. Let the battle in a consolidating industry begin.

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