HomeConnectivityLexmark chases $50bn opportunity with launch of new IoT services business

Lexmark chases $50bn opportunity with launch of new IoT services business

Print services company Lexmark has launched a new IoT portfolio for manufacturing companies to monitor usage of their connected devices in-market, and provide their customers with a platform of analytics-based maintenance and service solutions. The company put the total market opportunity, for industrial IoT services, at $50 billion “for Lexmark”, citing sales into existing Fortune 100 customers, looking to offer as-a-service IoT to their own clients.

Lexmark said it expects to take one-to-two percent share of the total market value (between $500 million and $1 billion) in short order. “We are in position to take a share of that right away, and we want a fair share,” said Allen Waugerman, president and chief executive at Lexmark, during a webcast. The printer firm said it has been doing IoT for years, by default, by servicing networked printers for clients – “doing IoT before IoT was cool,” said Waugerman.

The company’s new Optra Optra IoT suite, now available to third parties in the US and Europe, comes out of its own services offering. The printer maker stands apart in a crowded market, it reckons, with an IoT solution that is already road-tested. Vishal Gupta, chief information and tech officer at the firm, said: “The solution we’re offering is the same one we’ve used ourselves… Others are giving you an experiment, we are giving you a proven experience.”

Waugerman (left) and Gupta – digital transformation as-a-service

The company has built its new IoT offer on Microsoft Azure; other IoT partners are presumably engaged, as well, but there was no mention of them during a press briefing. The company claims, by introducing IoT sensing and AI sense-making tools into its own managed services offering, and by tinkering over a number of years, it has achieved 25 percent and 40 percent jumps in asset utilisation and engineering efficiency, respectively.

Seventy percent of support issues Lexmark is managing for customers are now resolved remotely, it said; the company claims a 50 percent reduction in time-to-market for its own products, with data insights cascaded along a two-way digital thread between product design, industrial manufacturing, and commercial usage. “Our transformation did not happen overnight. Becoming an IoT company is one of the hardest things we have ever done.”

Waugerman referenced a “huge internal cultural shift”, as well as the technical gubbins to make it fly. “We are not just a printing and energy company; we are now a provider of IoT solutions,” he said. But Lexmark now has the component parts – in the form of IoT platform, AI software, and cloud processing, it said – in a hard-worked and highly-workable bundle for third-party manufacturers. It claims a 95 percent customer retention rate.

He added: “IoT has the power to transform all types of industries. Companies only need the right tools to harness it, enabling them to grow and innovate. Lexmark figured it out. We unleashed the power of IoT and built a solution we have used for years in our own business to achieve measurable benefits for our customers and ourselves. Lexmark Optra IoT Solutions can do the same for other companies.”

Lexmark’s timing is good, insisted Gupta. “Because other enabling technologies are also ready now, including 5G to connect devices, edge to support real time audio and video, cloud to connect and analyse data, and AI to enable intelligent decision making.” The Lexmark proposition is “assembled from the right technologies, the right providers, and the right team of consultants – and introduced at the right time, because the time for IoT is now,” he said.

Effectively, Lexmark wants to commercialise its own IoT model, running in a virtuous circle along a digital thread, by enabling third parties to do the same. Gupta said: “We have evolved… from being reactive to being proactive, and predictive; to anticipate [printer] issues, and resolve them often remotely – often before customers even notice. We can predict [the] need [for] toner and other consumables, and deliver them [in time]. That is the future.”

The new Optra IoT solution includes an IoT platform to “combine and operationalize” siloed data from connected devices and business systems, plus a suite of accelerators including algorithms, machine learning models, reporting dashboards, and business process templates to fast-track insights and speed implementation. Lexmark is also offering a “team of consultants” to help customers “realize their investment and navigate their IoT journey”.

Gupta said: “We have spent years perfecting [our IoT offer], and it is [already] available in the market at scale with Fortune 100 customers.”

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