Che sara, sara; What will be in IT, will be – The Phil Madders Predictions for 2018

Our predictions for 2018 are based on the activity and requests from our 600+ dealers in the EMEA region.

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1.    Integration of data silos within organisations will accelerate in 2018

The integration will occur in two areas:

  • The back office
  • The offices our partners sell to

We are basing this on the increasing need we have seen over the past year to access digital and transient information. This trend should also support the UK market in 2018 as data becomes a major service and source of revenue.

We define transient information as potentially disposable information; for example an airplane boarding pass. Traditionally travelers print their boarding pass out in colour including five pages of T&C’s, logos, and advertising generating click and consuming toner. That paper would then be discarded when back home. Depending on the digital trends and demographic in the country, travelers increasingly download their boarding pass. They display it on their phone screen and if the airport infrastructure allows, scan their way through to the airplane. That information can also be stored in the cloud for future access.

In the office equipment channel, Toshiba created the Toshiba Paper reusing system in 2017 to align with the transient information trend. Toshiba advises the main benefits are reusing the paper for green credentials, efficiency, and TCO. Toshiba suggests using the paper five times, scanning the data and erasing it at the same time. The printed page becomes transient as once the paper-based record has been used it is no longer needed. If the document is required, our DMS system or cloud-based storage will retrieve it and even print it out on paper for temporary use. Apart from less filing cabinets what does this mean for the channel in 2018?

The back office

We are now involved in the tasks of integrating the back office every day. The aim is to create productive and cost-effective organisations. The method has been to automate meter readings, toner fulfillment, technical resource management, invoicing, and logistics.

We engage with a significant number of new entrants with whom we integrate our data. Service Management Systems was our natural partner, now we have full-blown ERP systems, SAP providers, asset management systems, logistics, and supplies extracting and using our data to deliver a service to their users.

The offices our partners sell to

Our dealers are embracing this opportunity to look for areas where automation can improve productivity and reduce costs. Dealers are providing dashboards, business analytics tools, and workflow software. At one level they simplify and minimise the interaction required by customers to keep their output devices working. As well as streamlining billing through seat based billing, and proactive service arrangement.

2.    More project-based engagements will bring together partners with differing capabilities to deliver project solutions

At another level, business will integrate all that dealers offer into the workflow process of the organisation as a vital cog in overall efficiency. We predict this integration will increase in 2018 and lead to many partners delivering project solutions with a variety of skills and technology. These can be provided by external partners or by acquisitions from larger firms importing the skills in-house. This trend is clear from looking at all the Konica Minolta acquisitions in the past two years.

Since March 2016 Konica integrated:

  • DSSI for Enterprise Content Management
  • Muratec for market share in North America
  • TLS.NET for a voice provider to introduce a new service to the office solutions portfolio
  • Quality Associates, Inc. and DocPoint Solutions for additional Enterprise Content Management services
  • Action Business Systems for market share
  • Meridian Imaging Solutions to provide strategic workplace solutions

3.    PAE will develop a predictive BI model – Good Data/Bad Data & Predictive Errors

We’ll face the problem of data veracity and model tuning very quickly developing a predictive model. PAE has developed dashboarding to harness the power of the data we can readily access to help our dealers match the challenges of an evolving office market. We bring service, finance, and device management into a visualised system via a BI dashboard for decision making.

A BI system’s ability to analyse and present data is only as good as the data it accesses. We’ve been challenged to develop predictive modeling to forecast revenue and toner consumption, adding the field of predictive error. Every model will have a bias and will require tuning through time. An algorithm is always designed to produce a predictive result; this result must be tested, tuned, and the system must learn. As soon as computers begin analysis for prediction, business has found that they can hand over the associated management tasks. AI makes decisions digging out similarities in historical data; it is currently struggling to predict rare events that have a large impact on a system that a human may use gut instinct to realise. But even that is being solved by looking for the data that causes the rare events. Hopefully, my 2019 predictions will not be presented by the mythical PAE AI 2.1

It is fair to predict 2018 will be an exciting year and bring many new challenges, things to learn, and things to offer our partners.

4.    A few easier personal predictions to end

England will win the World Cup in Russia, beating Germany in the final 6-0.

Leeds Utd. will win promotion to the Premiership.

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