HP’s acquisition of Samsung’s printer business was one of the big news stories of 2017, so it is fiting that the process was completed just before we go to press with our round-up of this year’s highlights and our preview of the big themes of 2018. Many of the trends that dominated the last 12 months will continue in 2018 – on-going consolidation in the printer industry, the rise of business inkjet, the digitisation of business processes, the need to secure MFPs. The last of these is unarguably the most important. MFP security has become a key differentiator for printer vendors. HP took a lead on this a couple of years ago by incorporating security features from its computer business into its MFPs and since then has built on its advantage with publicity campaigns like The Wolf starring Christian Slater. Other vendors have followed HP’s lead – as we report on page 5, Sharp is claiming to be the fist vendor to comply with more stringent standards developed with input from the US and Japanese governments – and will continue to do so as end user customers reassess their data security processes in light of GDPR, coming into force in May.
To date, most vendors and their customers have focused on the networking/computing aspects of MFPs to secure the corporate network and protect digital data that resides on, or is sent to and from, devices. As Ringdale explains in this month’s cover story on page 16, it is equally important to prevent printed documents from ending up in the hands of competitors or criminals. Secure printing plays an important part by signifiantly reducing the risk of unattended documents being taken from a printer output tray. Another aspect that receives less attention – in the printed sphere at least – is how to stop dishonest employees from printing commercially sensitive or private material in the fist place. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) technology that detects, prevents and warns about the printing of confiential information is an under-used feature of FollowMe and some other secure print solutions. With the penalties for and cost of data breaches on the rise, it makes sense to take advantage of DLP if only to demonstrate a commitment to data security.
When we asked vendors to highlight the big technology trends of 2018, almost all cited Artifiial Intelligence (AI). None mentioned improvements to the MFP user interface that could be brought about by developments in speech recognition. If Microsoft’s Vice President for Surface, Panos Panay, is right and “innovation is when devices disappear and ideas come to the fore” (see page 32), isn’t it time vendors exploited speech recognition to enable more natural interactions with their devices?
James Goulding, Editor