Artificial Intelligence and the Evolution of Print

Posted on Mar 26, 2019

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and real-life examples of machine learning are suddenly showing up everywhere.

Today, machines can operate in a way that mimics, assists, and in some cases replaces the need for human thought and action. With AI, computers prepare to do things by processing large volumes of information, and then picking up on patterns in the data. 

In this way, "trained" devices might relieve humans from many ordinary tasks. They just need to adjust to new scenarios based on past occurrences.

Robots are, indeed, doing what humans have traditionally done for retail stores: alerting shoppers to trip hazards and performing janitorial duties. Next up: self-driving deliveries and origami grocery baggers.

In addition to retail, the key vertical markets for AI include transit, search marketing, financial technology, healthcare, and countless more. 

Major corporations developing AI applications include the iconic printing company IBM.

How Will AI Change the Print Industry?

AI is poised to bring a number of changes to our industry. For one, it will advance predictive maintenance—a core need that prompts a business to partner with a managed print service. Data collection and monitoring is already quite common with copy machines, multifunction printers, and networked devices. Think of the aggregated information as an immense body of data, and the AI implications are clear. 

Expect printer makers to develop more sophisticated intelligence components, coupled with forms of analysis that can assist in the work of a managed print service. In addition, advance security techniques will incorporate AI. Innovations will enable networked machines to continually scan for attacks and repair breaches.

Today, computer manufacturers offer downloadable patches for specific operating systems and machines. Tomorrow, AI will engender real-time security alerts. Optimally, this will preclude breaches. If the system is somehow bypassed, AI will activate a protocol for a rapid, effective response and remediation.

We can also expect continuing movement from paper to digital data distribution and storage. Robotic process automation is another evolving method of replicating human actions in workplace settings. Combined with machine learning, it can enable offices to automate quite a range of tasks. One example involves taking a handwritten or copied document and transcribing it into digital data stores. This has potential to transform vast segments of the legal, insurance, banking and accounting sectors.

What Changes Are Already Coming Into Play?

We are now witnessing the AI concept’s influence on a new breed of voice-assisted apps in printing. Xerox is one of the companies that have already launched a voice-activated assistant: Gabi Voice. IBM's Watson voice recognition software, interacting with AltaLink multifunction printers, enables the user to simply talk to the machine to start up a job, whether it’s printing or copying, scanning, sending a fax, or initiating maintenance work.

Here are just a few of the other innovations Xerox and other forces in the print industry have introduced:

  • Print management software now integrates smart algorithms to recommend optimal layouts to reduce waste paper. It can also route print jobs to available networked printers to cut wait time.
  • Printers now have sensors that interact with algorithms, resulting in focus and alignment adjustments during the automated printing process.
  • Using customer relationship data, the print industry can customize direct mailings and catalogs, tailoring the content to the preferences of individual customers.

Increasingly, printer data is able to return back to print companies for analysis. The results empower technicians to spot issues and advise a client on recommended software changes or updates.

Thus, predictive maintenance analytics do not constitute something far off in the future. We are already seeing the technology that can help us keep a client’s machines maintained in a focused way, preventing failure before it occurs.

If you'd like to discuss managed print services and tech support for your team, feel free to contact us! We'll be looking to the future with you, while meeting your print needs today.

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