It’s that time of year again! Time to take a look up the road ahead, regarding innovations in office technology. Today, we’ll take a quick look at a few of the surest bets:
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
If the Las Vegas’ 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last January was any indication, then 2019 is going to be all about AI. While AI has been quite prevalent over the previous few years, it has transcended from the level of experimental prototypes in labs, into actual "robots," equipment automation and other applications that are available on the market right now.
In popular culture, AI is usually portrayed as scary, hard-hitting stuff right out of "Westworld." In reality, however, it has quietly become a subtle catalyst in office tech in recent years. That trend is expected to only accelerate in 2019. One example of AI's prevalence in office tech is its presence in office/production print operations. It's especially useful in specifying elements such as document layouts, maintaining distribution lists automatically, and even monitoring/adjusting hardware whenever needed.
According to a recent study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2019 will be the year that AI indeed converges with other office technology platforms. It's expected to merge with cutting-edge technologies including blockchain (the decentralized technology that powers Bitcoin) and IoT, among others.
This leads us to the next trend…
2. IoT (Internet of Things)
Here’s another trend that has been steadily gaining steam over the last few years, and is more than ready for primetime in 2019. IoT is the default terminology for the concept of having various inter-connected devices with specific uses and applications, all networked to efficiently work together.
While the concept is considered risky by cyber-security experts, there are quite a few benefits that may justify or outweigh them. For one thing, it gives channel partners a whole new way to offer managed services in ways that can be custom-tailored for clients’ specific needs.
Most industry experts foresee IoT becoming a dominating force in 2019 for B2B. According to a recent survey by Forrester’s Research, over 85 percent of all companies surveyed have plans to implement IoT solutions this year. While the primary goal will be to improve efficiency while reducing costs, many companies intend to utilize IoT as an additional strategy to deliver specialized services that their customers are actively seeking. This dynamic is also expected to take hold in SMB's.
While this trend is always on the forefront, it's taken whole new levels due to the technologies as mentioned earlier we've covered thus far. Also because cyber-security never gets a break, because hackers and data invaders are continually innovating their tactics and strategies.
Moreover, now with IoT, we're entering a whole new world of inter-connectivity that brings with it entirely new risks. Because IoT devices may be breached more easily than sophisticated network routers, switches, and firewalls, cyberattackers theoretically get new ways to break into networks.
For example, printing devices used to be standalone and not networked. These days, however, most are connected to a network in some way. In a recent report by
One solution to this is coming from Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE). This platform is
Office tech companies including Xerox have adopted Cisco's ISE protocols and device profiles to allow their products to get easily configured and protected within the ISE environment. This kind of technology promises to improve and streamline security needs as IoT becomes more and more prevalent in enterprise workplaces.
4. Cloud Computing
Now that the "cloud" has become an industry standard that is proven to out-grow in-house or leased dedicated data centers/colocation solutions, companies are leveraging its utility more than ever, especially since issues such as network reliability and security are being addressed. Best of all, in ways that are accessible to the average SMB.
Despite the benefits of cloud networks and computing, certain enterprises may find "on-site" data-center solutions to be more cost-effective. Various factors need to be taken into consideration before a business can determine what solution will work best for them. In most cases, however, cloud computing will win out. Especially since high-performance, secure, and power-packed solutions are now available from various providers.
5. Paperless Solutions
Now that more and more companies and firms are doing all they can to "go green," making offices more "paperless" has become a significant priority. According to the most recent data, approximately 90% of all paper-related office waste is due to excessive printed documents undergoing revisions, corrections, and updates. The remaining 10% of that office waste can be attributed to printed documents stored in filing vaults and physical warehouse facilities. The obvious solution is to digitize document processing as much as humanly possible.
Keeping documents managed and stored in cloud-based solutions such as Dropbox, for example, can dramatically reduce the need for printing documents at all, while at the same increasing efficiency and productivity. All it takes some proactive planning and policy-making in document preparation, management, and storage to make a significant difference in office waste.
In a 2014 study by Catalog Spree and PaperKarma, they discovered that if companies in the US alone reduced its office paper usage by just 10%, greenhouse gas emissions would drop by 1.45 million metric tons. To put this figure in perspective, that’s the same amount of reduction that would come from eliminating 280,000 cars from US highways for just one year.
Enterprises can go paperless in other simple ways, such as requesting suppliers and vendors to switch to electronic invoices and documents vs. paperwork sent via postal mail, eliminating payments by printed checks, and other common sense ways. Experts agree that by doing so, they'll improve efficiency and lower costs while reducing their carbon footprint.
Although there are other trends in office tech that will further revolutionize how workplaces function and operate, these are the key ones that stand to have the most significant effect this year. Simply put, the more that businesses do to leverage these trends, the more tangible benefits they will reap in 2019 and beyond.
Here at A&A Office Systems, our experts can help your business get the most from these trends, and much more. Let us show you how we can help!