The Rapid Rise of AI: Implications for the Print Industry

There is a new disruptor in the industry, and its name is artificial intelligence. One might ask, “How can AI be a disruptor since we have been aware of its presence for years?” In this particular case, AI is not a disruptive force that will jump out of the proverbial cake and surprise us. It’s the speed with which AI is making inroads in the office and the impact this will ultimately have on digital transformation.

Some market trends are plodding. Take the transition from analog copiers to digital MFPs. This transition took from five to seven years. How about the transition of traditional office technology dealers from a focus on hardware to capabilities in the areas of software and services? Some would say that this transition is still underway and has been at least 15 years in the making.

What separates AI from the pack is its speed. It was only a few short years ago that AI was being discussed as a “future” technology. Today it is embedded in our lives without us even knowing it’s there. While Moore’s law called for the doubling of computer processing power every 18 months, this is going to look slow by comparison to the speed with which AI becomes mainstream. With technology providers racing to improve AI’s learning capabilities and businesses racing to deploy AI-based technologies across their core applications, the world is moving rapidly to a point where office technology providers could awaken to a new reality in terms of print output.

So, how might this take shape, you wonder? Let’s begin by looking at the impact AI is already having. We can start by recognizing that large enterprises have already begun significant AI implementations within key line-of-business applications, including those found within finance and accounting, HR, manufacturing and legal, to name a few. While the majority of these implementations are targeting the low-hanging fruit associated with manual data entry and work processes, the beachhead established by AI in these applications will only gain further traction, improve in its performance, and scale to other parts of the business. And if you think that AI is only a large company phenomenon, think again. Small and mid-sized businesses actually stand to gain even more from AI implementations than their larger cousins. AI software and service providers recognize this and are heavily targeting this fertile opportunity.

AI implementations ultimately drive the same outcomes regardless of business size. The first is the digitization and automation of traditional manual processes. The second is a resultant reduction in physical documents associated with those processes. And the third is elimination of humans formerly employed in creating those documents and driving the process.

Will AI fully automate all existing business processes? Not likely. Will it eliminate the production of all paper? Doubtful. Will it have a dramatic impact on today’s workforce and create significant worker dislocation? Highly likely.

Today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution, epitomized by massive and distributed computing power, cloud infrastructure, advanced algorithms, big data, IoT, and artificial intelligence, will result in a major sea change in white-collar jobs and, with it, huge implications for the traditional print market.

While the speed with which this occurs is subject to debate, the signs pointing to a rapid disruption of the traditional print business model is staring us in the face.

Is your organization capable of going beyond print? Do you have AI and AI application expertise? Can you design and implement true business workflow solutions? If so, you have a mountain of opportunity at your doorstep in the form of small and medium enterprises that need your help.

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Dennis Amorosano is the president and founder of Dendog Strategy Insights LLC, a management consulting firm focused on strategic planning, new business development and go to market execution. Providing services in the areas of strategic business planning/execution, new business development, content creation/marketing automation and technology sourcing support, Dendog Strategy Insights brings 30 years of technology marketing, sales, product planning, software engineering, and professional service experience to help clients implement strategies that yield success.