Ian Dunsmore, PAE Business
Here comes a new generation of paper-junkies – are you ready?
Paper is dead, long live paper.
MPS is dead, long live MPS.
And so on and so on.
And then, suddenly the next generations speak up, and they’re talking about printing!
Were we all wrong? Is paper, office printing against all predictions not dead yet? And if it is still alive, what about Managed Print Services, or is it Managed Document Services now? Or would talking about Managed Content Services be more appropriate?
Where did we go wrong?
Let’s be a bit more realistic with the word paper-junkies. The next generations won’t be paper-junkies, but they will still want or need to print the odd document. And when they want/need to print, they want it when they want it, where they need it at that moment, and without considering selecting the right device, settings, drivers and what else you might need.
And they will want solutions, literally at their fingertips to give them the results they want.
Now and at a fingertip
Speaking about fingertips: have you recently compared the average user experience at an MFP with the average user experience on a smartphone? – Be honest, coming from a smartphone to almost any MFP interface is quite the “experience”.
Have you thought about the apps being used these days to streamline communication? – Can document processing and MPS/MDS/MCS solutions integrate with them?
Take the average say Millennial; they are glued to their smartphones. The apps they’re using are, to a large extent, in synch with their laptops so ensure seamless communication and working processes. And as smooth as these apps function across devices and platforms, printing or scanning has to work, as well as e.g. print reporting and related analytics.
What’s the real challenge?
The coming generations are digitally driven, they want to stay informed at all times, they decide what is acceptable and what not to support efficiency and productivity. – Can current hardware, software, and solutions impress them? I’m leaning towards a no here.
How much time do we have?
Until this new workforce hits us? It’s starting now. And by 2020 Millennials will form 50% of the current labour force, already infused by Generation Y, a generation more tech-savvy than we’ve ever seen one before, and for most of us running the show today it’ll be game over.
3 Things we need to work on hard and NOW
- Speed up hardware innovation and integration.
- Are standalone, single-function (print only, scan only, copy only, fax only) devices sustainable?
- Are the functions and integration options of MFPs future-proof?
- Can an MFP be just like like any other IoT with full control via e.g. an app?
- Raise the bar for software: improve functionalities, user-friendliness, and cross-platform availability
- Make analytics and control panels available on a smartphone like any fitness wristband does
- Question workflow and process optimisation strategies: are they going in the right direction or are they missing the point of future communication and document strategies
- Invest in your team and the infrastructure supporting them, they need to understand the next generations, be able to act (=sell) with confidence
- Provide better support and change management to the digital immigrant and maturist generations
The Office of the Future – again?
There will always be an office of the future (at least as long as the workplace concept of offices exists). This is what has to drive us every day. Working towards better hardware, software and services. But as the life-cycles of innovation and realisation become shorter today’s office of the future is tomorrow’s outdated, old-fashioned workflow. Millennials and Generation Y will face the same challenges we are facing now in 10 – 20 years’ time, when the new next generations are entering the workforce, demanding change and innovation faster and better.
Let’s stay alert, listen, evaluate and respond. Now.