Every year industry experts, pundits and almost everyone involved in the tech industry likes to discuss trends and make predictions. The first quarter of each year, then, is a good time first to look back at the previous year’s trends, both those that came true and those that proved to be less accurate, and from that, draw new predictions and plan for what the year ahead may hold. Some of those predictions will be wild. Out there. Unorthodox. And some of them aren’t. That’s what we’re presenting here: three trends that we can pretty safely guarantee will be important to almost everyone in the office technology industry. Let’s take a look at a few that you can probably take to the bank.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
If you paid any attention to the news coming out of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, you probably saw a lot of talk about AI. It’s not new, of course — AI has been a hot topic for a couple of years now, as it transitions from an element of science fiction to a critical part of the business environment. But while we frequently, and sometimes flippantly, refer to AI as “robots” and live either in fear of them taking over human jobs or in the hopes of them taking on tasks that humans don’t want to do, the truth is that AI pervades the workspace in some less obvious ways. For instance, AI can be found in office and production print workflows, determining document layouts, automating distribution lists and allowing hardware to self-monitor and make real-time adjustments. For 2019, the true watchword for AI is “convergence” — a PwC study shows that for 36 percent of respondents, the merging of AI with other technologies is a priority. These other technologies include analytics, blockchain and the internet of things (IoT), which leads us to another major trend for business in 2019.
This is another trend that has been around for a while and is only going to gain ground in 2019. The IoT has become a catch-all term for multiple interconnected devices that used to be standalone pieces, like printers, and now have become part of a vast, interconnected network. And even though there are risks to this level of connectivity, which we’ll get to in the next section, there are also significant benefits — among other things, it represents a new opportunity for channel partners offering managed services. Forrester predicts B2B IoT will take off in 2019, with 85 percent of firms implementing or planning to implement an IoT solution. B2B IoT, according to Forrester’s Predictions 2019, will “focus on driving efficiencies, connecting the enterprise, expanding the edge, and, in some cases, providing personalized customer experiences.” Like so many other IT-related services, this is going to be something that SMBs, in particular, will find difficult to manage on their own, and will need well-equipped partners for outsourcing at least some of the processes.
Security certainly is not a new entry on the trends list, but its level of importance is — each year the landscape becomes more difficult to navigate, largely due to the IoT (see “risks” above). This brave new connected world and its technological advances also represent a potential gaping security threat – because these devices are all connected, they are easier for cyberattackers to take advantage of if they can penetrate the network to begin with. Let’s get back to those printing devices that used to be standalone and now, most often, are not. A Quocirca report, “Print security: An imperative in the IoT era,” found 72 percent of respondents recognized operating an insecure print infrastructure as a major concern, and access to the network through an unsecured MFP was a top concern for 67 percent of respondents. How does the small business even stand a chance? One example is Cisco’s Identity Services Engine, a policy management and enforcement platform that is globally recognized as an enterprise leader. Device profiles built into Cisco ISE can be recognized automatically and granted security access based on granular security policies built by the organization that owns them. For example, more than 200 Xerox device profiles are built into the ISE, allowing ISE to automatically detect and control access to these ConnectKey Technology-enabled VersaLink and AltaLink devices. It’s an important safeguard to have in place in an ever-more-connected world.
Are these three predictions the most groundbreaking or out-on-a-limb ones you’ll hear all year? Absolutely not. Instead, they have the ring of the familiar — because they are. But they’re not old; rather, they are breakthrough trends from years past that are coming into their own this year. While you shouldn’t ignore the craziest predictions, the ones that break uncharted ground, for partners seeking to grow their business in the coming year, it’s worth another look at the trends that are coming into their own — and offer the opportunity for some new business.
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Excellent blog. All this leads to smart devices with uber connectivity yet secure, which is no small task. Of the 3 trends AI has the highest promise and least developed – exciting times ahead!
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