- The challenge for PSPs is to leverage all of the data that is collected to obtain a single view of print operations.
- Although some dedicated business intelligence tools are available as standalone products while others can be connected to a print management information system that can aggregate data from multiple data sources, integrating these solutions usually requires a healthy amount of professional services.
- An initial review of InfoTrends’ research has shown that PSPs who place a greater focus on equipment effectiveness and uptime are more likely to have revenue gains than those using other metrics.
By Ryan McAbee
Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends expects 2020 to be a pivotal year for the production software industry. Several enabling technologies that—up until now—have been largely used independently are ready for convergence to build sophisticated data-driven workflows. Cloud computing and scalable database infrastructure have enabled the collection of vast amounts of data, often from Internet-connected devices. Data analytics platforms enable that data to be visualized and interpreted by key stakeholders in management and operations. Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging to leverage that same data for equipment break/fix prediction, but it will ultimately enable self-organizing workflow solutions that can intelligently interrogate, process, and route work toward the most efficient production path. Simply put, 2020 is shaping up to be the year of data!
Data Can Enable a Single View of Print Operations
The challenge for PSPs is to leverage all of the data that is collected to obtain a single view of print operations. The market has seen an influx of connected print equipment providing data that can be used to enhance production, as well as production dashboards that present key performance indicators (KPIs). Several of today’s digital front end (DFE) solutions now offer options to add-on a production dashboard that shows real-time equipment information such as material and ink usage along with statistics on running speeds and equipment uptime. Although some dedicated business intelligence (BI) tools are available as standalone products while others can be connected to a print management information system (MIS) that can aggregate data from multiple data sources, these solutions tend to require a healthy amount of professional services to integrate.
For PSPs, the issue is how to effectively and cost-efficiently obtain a single, data-driven view of operations considering that almost all shops use a mix of printing technologies and vendors. Two potential developments could lower the current barriers for adoption of a centralized BI solution—industry-wide adoption of a standard data and integration protocol or, to a lesser extent, a print workflow platform where most the industry’s software vendors participate. The relatively low adoption rates of print service providers (PSPs) integrating via job definition format (JDF) suggest that this isn’t the path forward. For now, PSPs will need to evaluate the benefit to cost ratio for the myriad ways of collecting and viewing operational data and metrics.
As we move into 2020, InfoTrends will conduct and publish research on how PSPs currently collect and use data to inform strategic business decisions and operations. Specifically, this year’s research is focused on uncovering the most important operational and financial KPIs used by PSPs. An initial review of findings has shown that PSPs who place a greater focus on equipment effectiveness and uptime are more likely to have revenue gains than those using other metrics.
The Bottom Line
For several years now, InfoTrends has focused on emerging and enabling technologies (e.g., cloud computing, AI) that support advanced print manufacturing techniques (e.g., mass customization, lean manufacturing). Collectively, these techniques are commonly known as Smart Print Manufacturing. We expect 2020 to be a bellwether for what will unfold concerning the industrial internet of things (IIoT), workflow automation, cloud software, and AI over the coming decade. When leveraged in concert, these technologies will ultimately enable data-driven and autonomous print production.
Ryan McAbee is a Director for Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends' Production Workflow Consulting Service, which focuses on providing technology, business, and market insights to clients in the Digital Marketing & Media and Production Workflow markets. In this role, he is responsible for conducting market research, market analysis and forecasting, content development, industry training, and consulting with print service providers.