As technology evolves across the personal, social and business space, life becomes more connected and convenient, but our very understanding of our lives also has to change.
The connected office is no different, and work will never be the same, writes Mohammed Vachiat, GM: direct sales for Konica Minolta South Africa.
The fundamental change is that for many of us, there will probably still be a building that serves as the real-world base of our operations, but today “the office” is really a hub, where information is produced, disseminated, shared and exchanged.
Information is shared within that physical space, but in fact, the digital space that your office occupies stretches across the planet. The most important role it serves is as a nerve centre that enables connections — between co-workers, suppliers and partners; within and across industries; and between producers and consumers of content.
The most important office transformation that has taken place is around the integration of hardware, software and people, into a seamless network that can be accessed from almost anywhere. Any office without this functionality is not doing what we expect in the workplace in 2020.
What was previously thought of as a printer is now a smart-technology hub, a multifunctional printer (MFP), the better exponents of which offer Internet of Things functionality, sustainability benefits, and a significant profitability boost for customers.
With the office now a thriving information-generation hub, the challenges of managing all the info being created becomes urgent. As office documents are digitised, cloud use rises and the volume of data increases, centralised management and better access to documents is vital. At the same time, security is increasingly critical.
Staff should be able to complete tasks efficiently and effectively from anywhere, using integrated cloud services and convenient workflow technology; they must also be sure their information is kept securely, despite being accessible all over the world.
The modern office hub uses intuitive smartphone-style user interfaces and powerful processors allowing quick response and high performance, as well as an evolved level of physical printing services. High-speed, one-pass double feed, digital skew correction, print management and advanced digital document workflow management are functions to look out for.
Because document management is now a digital function, part of the connected office solution is creating a digital ecosystem where users can operate intuitively, using an interface they’re comfortable with.
Functions can be added as necessary, by downloading the relevant apps from within the ecosystem. Some MFPs even collect data on their own performance, allowing for self-diagnosis and predictive maintenance.
What the modern office expects from its MFP media hub would also include PDF processing, optical character recognition, barcode printing, Unicode support, serverless printing and antivirus protection.
With the recent release of the bizhub i-series, part of the connected-office transition, we have also noticed that our society has become far more environmentally engaged, and MFPs are now expected to be sustainably produced and to make efficient use of consumables and energy. Devices are even designed to minimise particle emissions for optimal air quality, keeping staff safe and productive.