What is “The Internet of Printers“?
ecoprintQ has been hearing a lot of buzz around the “Internet of Things” topic these days, and there will be a lot more, especially in some business areas where it may have a major impact. The common feeling is that IoT (Internet of Things) will, in the long term, change the game in many industries.
The question is: will this apply to printers, too?
So, the goal for this post is to try to explain what happens when we replace the word “Things” with the word “Printers,” and apply the paradigms that are being defined as standards for IoT to the Printers business. To do this, we’ll try to answer the following questions:
- Does the Internet of Printers make any sense from a business perspective?
- Which technology enabler is needed / available?
- Who would ultimately benefit from it?
Let’s start with a definition: “The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.” (Gartner)
The implications of this paradigm can be widely different, depending on which kind of “Things” we look at. For example, anyone can install a Netatmo Weather Station with a rain sensor in his garden, and create an IFTTT Recipe that, when it starts raining, shuts off his garden watering system, changes the color of his Hue lamps, and texts him that everything he left outside his house will get wet. Life is a little more comfortable now, but there is no high business value in it.
If we apply the IoT concept to a business process, we most likely will see huge improvements and tangible benefits; that’s because in an IoT-based environment, human interaction and consequent high friction, loss of time and high cost, are reduced to almost nothing.
Here’s the key point. The IoT is a terrific opportunity for improving business processes, because it
enables Machine-to-Machine interaction: the transition from a manual, human, slow and error-prone process to a M2M automatic one can transform a costly problem into a profitable solution.
What about Printers?
Printers are very good candidates for the IoT, for many reasons:
They consume a lot – Toners, Drums, Paper, Energy costs account for many times more than the cost of the device itself; someone (the user, the service provider, the fleet manager, or any other stakeholder) pays for them, and usually there is plenty of room for cost (and margin) improvement.
They waste a lot – A significant part of the Toner and Paper consumption of a printer is wasted, for many possible causes, most of which…
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