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Walter Hale explains why you need to be keeping your eye on the Internet of Things.

Clothes that adjust to the temperature, vacuum cleaners operated by text messages and cars that drive themselves … these are some of the much-hyped innovations that could be spawned by the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). Yet uber-management consultants McKinsey suggest that the media have misunderstood this revolution. Innovations aimed at the consumer generate plenty of headlines, but they argue that the IoT could have a more profound impact in the B2B world, where it will rewrite the rules of competition, create new business models, and transform the way companies use technology. To take one example relevant to wide-format printing, every printer could be fitted with sensors that predict when maintenance will be required and analyse workflows to improve efficiency. We’re starting to see the beginnings of it, but before we look too far ahead, let’s take a step back.

Have the cyber criminals got to you yet? Perhaps not, but that’s no reason to ignore what’s a mounting issue as business writer Walter Hale explains.

Every minute 173 new kinds of viruses are invented. And every three seconds a website somewhere in the world is compromised. The statistics are scary but they also make a useful point. When cyber security hits the headlines it is usually because a government department or a corporate titan like Sony has been compromised. To the managing director of a typical wide-format printer, the risk of their company being targeted by North Korea’s savviest cyber criminals might seem infinitesimal, but the Sony-style attacks are only the well-publicised tip of a very large iceberg.

Business writer Walter Hale takes a view on its relevance to wide-format PSP diversification.

Don’t believe the hype. We’ve all come across that cliché. It certainly applies to 3D printing - although not in the usual way.

The hype doesn’t come close to conveying the potentially disruptive power of 3D printing. Here is a technology that can make replacement body parts, cars, spare parts for the International Space Station and, in China, 10 new houses in 24 hours.

Yes, you can make use of it, even if you’re a small company. Walter Hale explains.

The term ‘big data’ doesn’t help. It sounds expensive, technologically complicated and something that only big companies can take advantage of. The hype doesn’t help. As technology critic Evgeny Morozov noted: “If you have a treasure trove of unpublishable papers, just add the words ‘big data’ and see them go viral.” In truth, the issue isn’t that complicated. When we talk about big data what we’re really saying is, let’s do the kind of analysis that helps us make decisions based on facts, not gut instinct. Put it like that and the real question is: can your company afford not to invest in big data?

The retail sector is under pressure from online shopping and the recession but is this good or bad news for wide format providers? Nessan Cleary investigates.

The retail sector is an important source of work to the wide-format print community so it’s a no brainer that we keep up to speed with trends and developments impacting upon the type and levels of work we can produce for such customers.

Can the Cloud be used to centralise colour management for wide-format printers? Nessan Cleary investigates what vendors are doing to make it viable.

With an increasing number of services being offered through the Cloud, from file storage through to MIS, so it’s no surprise to find that some vendors in the print space are also offering colour management services from the Cloud.

Nessan Cleary takes a look at how digital signage, otherwise known as narrow casting, could become a useful tool in your arsenal.

When it comes to simply displaying information in a cost-effective manner, it’s hard to beat a printed sign. Yet digital signs are popping up ever more frequently, and you can understand why. Last year, for example, British Airways used a digital screen in London’s Piccadilly for its ‘Look Up’ campaign, with a little boy pointing up at real planes as they flew high above the screen. Software was able to track actual flight data so that the boy was always pointing directly at a plane, which was identified on the screen. Clever stuff. So where does that leave those of you printing ‘traditional’ signs when the arguments for using digital screens seem so compelling?

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