Keep a Sharp Eye on Office Technologies in 2020

Modern offices look a lot different today than they did in the past. For years, the office environment has trended towards a digital, connected environment. Employees are now accustomed to seamless digital workflows with tools that integrate across clouds and networks – and there’s no sign of that stopping. Many of Smile’s preferred brands, including Sharp, Fujitsu, and Epson, have been at the forefront of innovation for printing and office technologies. Here’s a recap of what they’ve been up to this year, and what the world has to look forward to in 2020.

What’s New in the World of Printing and Office Tech

Anyone who has been paying attention to the printing industry this year is delighted – and impressed – by some of the latest in printing technology. During 2019:

  • Experimental and specialty inks came to the forefront. Industry leaders like Epson, HP, and others have been actively finding new ways to redesign and reconsider the printing industry’s relationship with ink. For Epson, that has meant revolutionizing the cartridge world with cartridge-free printers.
  • Production print started going mainstream. The printing industry is finally catching up with Lexmark and Fujitsu, which have both marketed entry-level production printers for years. As this technology becomes more commonplace in offices, expect to see yet more companies leveraging ever more sophisticated printing capabilities.
  • Next-generation automation was born. While automation has long existed in the print industry, early examples of advanced automation are taking it to the next level. From prepress to production, automation can handle more parts of the printing process than ever before.

The Most Anticipated Tech of 2020

In 2019, the world saw the first glimpses of some of the exciting things which the future holds in store. Whereas some excitement may have been dampened by the 2018 Bitcoin crash or this year’s burgeoning trade war, innovators aren’t passing up any opportunities. Next year’s most anticipating technology includes:

5G: More Integration with the Internet of Things

Since the first 5G announcements in 2018, the world has been quietly holding its breath in preparation for the rollout of the next generation of wireless connectivity. 5G is expected to revolutionize the way people – and things – connect to the internet.

For offices, 5G will mean more integration and a greater presence of the Internet of Things (IoT), that horde of ubiquitous Wi-Fi-connected devices quietly streaming data in the background. Printers will be able to move data to and from other parts of the data environment seamlessly and employees will no longer be limited to interacting solely with their computers.

Next year, expect to see more efforts to take advantage of the new level of digital connectivity that’s on its way. What will that look like? Consider Sharp, which has just rolled out a line of MFPs that’s fully compatible with Amazon Alexa.

Unlocking Productivity with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is largely heralded as the next wave of digitalization – at least that’s what Fujitsu called it when they unveiled their latest business productivity solutions that leverage AI. These human-centric AI solutions promise to improve business processes across the board, from smarter printers to more perceptively crafted customer journeys.

However, that’s not the only place where AI is appearing in creative and surprising ways. In 2019, AI began making its way into everyday office management processes such as document management systems. Such AI-powered DMS has the potential to revolutionize not just productivity, but the way data is gathered, extracted, and interacted with at every step of its journey through a company.

Blockchain for the Print Industry

Blockchain rose to fame – or infamy – on the back of cryptocurrency, but it’s since spread into other industries, including that of print. Blockchain offered to create a tamper-proof, secure way to share data. For printers, that means using blockchain to accelerate and transform printing in a secure environment which still benefits from the hyper-connectivity of a digital business.

Blockchain for the print industry is still in its nascent state, but research group Quocirca expects that it will have the same disruptive effect that it’s had in other industries. Stay tuned for next year, as innovators continue to look for ways to refine printing with blockchain.

From Fujitsu to Sharp: Embrace the Future with a Smile

From Fujitsu’s next-generation automation and AI capabilities, to the latest IoT-integrated MFPs by Sharp, the future is looking pretty – well – futuristic. 2019 unveiled some of the most sophisticated and innovative technologies ever seen in the printing and office tech industries. These technologies are promising to unleash unprecedented creativity and productivity for modern offices. Forward-thinking companies need to prepare now to seize the competitive edge which these technologies offer. Prepare for the future with a smile by getting started today.

Whether you need software updates or hardware repairs, Smile’s service technicians are some of the most tech-savvy there are. Contact us today to discuss your technological ambitions for the future.

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