At the EFI Connect 2018 user conference in Las Vegas in January (see page 21), CEO Guy Gecht painted a bright future for print in the fourth industrial revolution, with digital inkjet printing making inroads into a number of industrial applications such as textile printing, packaging and building materials. The greater speed of today’s inkjet presses combined with greater computing power in the cloud and at device level, allied to the inherent benefis of digital print for short print runs and 1-1 marketing, will, he believes, make print even stronger. Digital print has already had a big impact in certain sectors, notably display graphics and ceramic tile printing where it now accounts for more than 50% of output. However, the big prizes lie in packaging (including corrugated), fabrics and even commercial print, and here there is still a long way to go – certainly many years and perhaps even generations – before digital captures the lion’s share of output. Not that Gecht’s too worried. “The volume in these areas is so high that our business plan is not based on 50% digital. If we get to 10% digital in those markets it will be gigantic,” he said. One qualifiation, though. These optimistic predictions come under the banner of ‘Print beyond paper’. No one is suggesting there will be a renaissance in offie printing.
Several articles in this issue explain why. If, as I did, you have a vague notion of blockchain as something to do with bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, I strongly recommend you read the article on page 27. In it, Erik Johnsson, chief architect at Epicor Software, does a great job of explaining what blockchain is and how it can streamline and improve business processes, especially those that still rely on paper. On page 16, we look at how M-Files is using artifiial intelligence to simplify document fiing and retrieval across multiple systems. Being able to access documents in multiple repositories through a single application and being confient that the system will fid every document relating to your search removes the need to print (and hang onto) documents that you think you might need in the future. That’s something I am guilty of, and a new survey by Fellowes suggests I am not alone, with half of those surveyed admitting to having documents on their desk that are over a year old and one in fie still retaining print-outs from fie years before. Another AI application that has the potential to reduce paper use in the offie is the SD Worx Digital Assistant (see page 12). SD Worx describes the app as a second brain for offie workers who don’t have the luxury of a living and breathing personal assistant. It automatically interacts with multiple systems, making it quick and easy for users to sort out admin related to everyday events, such as taking a day-off, reporting in sick or arranging business travel, in a completely paperless process and a through a single app.
James Goulding, Editor
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