In 1990, American computer scientist, Ray Kurzweil, made several predictions about Artificial Intelligence (AI), out of which the following two stand apart:
- A computer will defeat human beings in chess by 1998. IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer beat the world’s greatest chess player, Gary Kasparov, in 1997.
- People will be able to talk to their computers through commands. Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri – anyone?
Fast forward 30 years, and you will agree that AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our times. A Gartner study reports that by 2020, AI will be a virtually pervasive component in almost every new software product and service.
Take tech giants Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook as an example. These companies are aggressively working on projects where the software systems can learn and make decisions on their own, with little human intervention.
Increasingly, many other companies have witnessed a rise in revenues from AI as compared to those that don’t. As AI becomes a mainstream technology, the financial investments in it are also set to rise. In fact, globally, 7% of companies have earmarked more than $1 billion by 2020.
Besides, they are investing in cutting edge AI trends across multiple sectors. From banking and healthcare to industrial manufacturing and retail, AI has had a ripple effect everywhere. Naturally, the print industry (including the web-to-print software technology) is no exception.
Digital Disruption In The Print Sector Through AI
A Tractica study reveals that the global annual revenues for AI-based products and services will grow to $59.75 billion by 2025. Speaking of print, 64% of companies believe that printing will remain relevant to their daily business even by 2025.
That shows that printing companies have a real opportunity in their hands to leverage the existing software systems to bring AI to their businesses. Let us understand how the print industry can take advantage of AI:
#1. Predictive maintenance
The term “predictive maintenance” is not new to the print industry. Many devices, such as copiers and networked printers, have embedded sensor technology that enables data to be collated and studied.
Based on the analysis, technology predicts possible loopholes that the system can face in the future. However, since there’s no control over the volume of data, the application of AI becomes necessary. It allows printers to fetch real-time data that can be embedded in printing devices.
#2. Printing on-the-go, using mobile
Paper will always remain a very critical part of the traditional printing process. However, thanks to many digitization initiatives, the print industry is steadily moving towards digital automation. That’s because of Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
The technology, when combined with AI, uses algorithms to understand unstructured data and convert them into structured digital subsets. In printing, repetitive manual jobs such as sending quotations and processing deliveries can be effectively managed with AI.
Many web2print software solutions leverage AI to bridge the gap between consumers and printers, and of course, help boost business efficiency.
#3. Protection against cyberthreats
Since many printing companies like yourself allow customers to connect their devices to their systems, cybersecurity has posed as a concern. Unfortunately, detecting the malware source is tricky, especially when a considerable customer base is involved.
That is where AI can step in and provide real-time anomaly detection and network-level behavior analytics. The technology initiates a rapid response using machine learning whenever a security breach occurs and optimizes remediation efforts.
#4. Real-time notifications
Let me explain this through an example. Let’s say you have 40,000 copies to print. You have the right infrastructure in place. However, if there is a problem with the printing software, it could lead to faulty end-products.
In such a scenario, manufacturers often provide downloadable patches for specific equipment. But this is only helpful ‘after’ the problem has occurred. Thankfully, with AI, you can predict the faults even before the issue occurs.
The AI patch activates a protocol to combat the breaches in the printing equipment with an effective solution.
#5. Digital automation
One of the most significant advantages of web-to-print software technology is that it enables consumers to place orders from their mobile phones. Similarly, when it comes to printing directly from the printers, one needs to install relevant drivers in every device.
AI-driven printers eliminate the pain-point and enable mobile users to take a print directly from their mobile phones or tablets with mere simple configurations. This wasn’t possible even a few years back, when installing the drivers led to compatibility issues.
2020 Will Be A Year For Transformation
As we move steadily towards the New Year, it is safe to say that digital transformation is still very much an agenda for printing companies. And, if leveraged well, AI can enable them to drive business growth and efficiency.
Let us see AI is already changing the face of the industry:
- Industry leaders can send customized flyers, catalogs, direct mail, and newsletters using AI-driven customer behavioral data.
- Online product designer tools bring Direct to Garment (DTG), screen printing, and sublimation under a single roof (read: dashboard). An online editor enables its customers (read: you) to use multiple features such as product personalization and variable data printing.
- Online printing companies can process and deliver multiple orders because AI-driven connected printers optimize the production units.
- The deployment of sensor-enabled printers enables communication with algorithms that result in a streamlined process. That’s how printers can reduce their turnaround time.
- Moreover, printers of today integrate efficient AI algorithms to recommend layouts for ensuring paper wastage.
The need for printing in the workplace may be diminishing. However, that doesn’t stop printers like you from expanding their business offerings to serve broader IT requirements to survive and thrive in the next era of AI.