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There’s a New Kind of Paper & It’s Made Out of Glass

6 Feb, 2013 By: West McDonald imageSource

This new kind of “paper” that’s made with glass is called a Tablet. Is your business ready? Let me explain.

Fact - Tablet sales in 2012 were over 126 Million units, up 85% from 2011 (Lowendmac.com/inews)

Fact - Apple sold 21 million units in Q2 of 2012 (Canalys 2012)

Fact - 65% of CEO/Presidents/Owners are using tablets in the office today (Bitpipe.computerweekly.com)

Fiction - That anybody in the print world can ignore the ‘Tablification’ of the office and its future impacts on the printed page (Common Sense)

With the state of the print industry being what it is, the upcoming ITEX Expo 2013 is bound to have some controversial topics. “Printing To Glass: The Effect of Tablets On Office Print” will likely be high on that list. I’ve been around the technology space long enough to remember the first time there was “crazy-talk” about computers bringing about the “Paperless Office.” This is usually the first reference people throw at me when I talk about Tablets, and their potentially negative effect on office printing. We all know, as history has shown, that the Internet has actually made people print MORE, not less. So…more tablets mean more people printing more information. Right?

Humans love to consume and process information. This fact has been critical in our taking over the planet. People are, by nature, information processing machines. We are built to take new information and to layer it on top of old information. The more we learn, the more we layer that learning. That is how we develop expertise. That’s the main reason we print. It started with cave drawings, progressed to hand-etched stone tablets, onto Papyrus scrolls, and finally to glorious tree-fibre paper! Hold on a minute. If we don’t use stone tablets or papyrus scrolls anymore, could the printed paper page be the final step in how we consume and share information?

Things Change

The only constant is change. Change is happening at an ever increasing pace. Let’s go back in time. Just 3 short years ago I would have written this article on my sole desktop computer, printed it off for my wife to review/edit, and then stuffed it into my briefcase so I could take it to the cafe to review. Two years ago I would have emailed her that same document, and after her edit I would naturally print it to take with me to review again. We buy a new printer every year to deal with my “home office” work load!

Current Day:

At this moment I’m typing on a keyboard that is connected wirelessly to a Tablet through Bluetooth. The tablet I am using to write this article is a Windows Surface (I also have an iPad II and a Nexus 7) and it is connected to an external monitor via wireless HDMI which allows me to have several windows open on several screens all at once. Thanks to the wonderful world of Google Docs, I am auto-saving every 3 or 4 seconds in “The Cloud” and to my hard-drive, simultaneously. I can then access this article from one of the 7 computers in my home thanks to Windows Homegroup. I can also access it online from one of my other tablets when I go to my local cafe tomorrow, via complimentary WIFI. If I run into another friend with a Nexus7 tablet we can “tap” devices and share the article without any need of email or thumb drive.

Screens are everywhere in my house. (I even have an iPAD mount in my kitchen for following recipes when I cook!) As a family, we view family memories not in a “photo album” but rather through pictures and video on our 110” HD projector in the living room (all via Sony PlayStation which is DNLA certified and grabbing all these directly from my Home group). At any given time at home, there are 2 to 3 laptops running, a Tablet or two, and all of this glass is “High Def” which is to say reading/viewing looks as good (and in many cases better) than a printed paper-page. Basically, I’ve gone from being a hard-core printing SOHO worker to a glass-ridden tablet junkie who doesn’t even print recipes anymore.

It’s not just young people that are wired to the hilt and consuming their information on glass. I am no Gen-Y’er (I’m a slightly graying 42 year old who get’s called “Sir” far too often for his liking!) And I’m not alone. Next time you go to McDonald’s, Starbucks, Tim Horton’s or Dunkin’ Donuts, look around and I guarantee that you will see at least one tablet-using-older-dude like me sporting some cool electronic glass. I have, among millions of others, taken advantage of a wonderful new form of paper called GLASS.

Print Facts

I know you’re thinking that “the office is different; people still need to print.” I agree whole heartedly. The question shouldn’t be “will people stop printing?” but rather “will people print as much as they do today?” And “will they print for the same reasons?”

I doubt printing is going away. Like your business, mine depends on that view. But I think we can agree that there will be a notable decline in pages and a corresponding reduction in the quantity of the devices that print them. Gartner certainly isn’t optimistic about printer sales.

The Seattle Times reported, “They (device manufacturers) are in trouble over the long term,” said Federico De Silva, a principal analyst at the Gartner market-research firm. “It’s big business, to be sure, but it’s not growing. It’s in a slow decline and we don’t see it coming back.”

Yikes. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that 30% of the pages coming off customer print-devices today won’t be there in 2 to 3 years. The 60% to 70% of pages that remain will be contracted in very different ways by very different dealers. Those dealers that take advantage of glass-based technologies and software solutions designed to improve and adapt user workflow streams will rise to the top. Those that simply offer CPP programs to facilitate an all-in solution for toner, service, and parts will have a very tough time indeed.

The Advantages

But what does the Tablet mean for the office specifically? What platforms and OS options are there and which ones will dominate the cubicle? And how can dealers take advantage of Tablets to stabilize and grow their page-based businesses? What is Digital BPO and how complicated is it to adopt? And likely the most important question of all: Is there any money to be made in any of this ‘Tablification’ of the office? With a projected 360.4 million tablets being sold per year by 2016 (IHS/Supply Research 5/12), that is a whole bunch of people that should be printing, right? Or…wrong? The debate on this will rage on for the time being as Tablification continues to increase. So ask yourself, will you be prepared to take on this innovative trend and find the opportunities for added revenue?

For more information on this topic, visit us at the ITEX Expo in Las Vegas in April (www.itexshow.com). The session is titled: Printing To Glass: The Effects of Tablets on Office Print. I will highlight that Tablets don’t need to be the enemy. You’ll learn to understand the different types of Tablets, the applications and apps available for document workflow and sharing that will be critical to an MPS practice in the near future. Three years ago people weren’t really using Secure-release/follow-me printing options, but today most dealers I work with have an offering. Tablets in the office are becoming a reality, and those dealers that learn to harness their power for their MPS practice will have powerful new ways to keep their customers paying. Which side of the glass will you be looking through in 2013? See you at ITEX!

About the Author: West McDonald

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