ITEX Imaging & Technology Education Exposition and ITEX 365 have been exploring the future of the workplace, also known as the “Smart Office”. The Smart Office encompasses similar technology implemented within the “Smart Home”, but rather, in the workplace. Large OEMs are forecasting how different trends and technologies can make the workplace safer, more efficient, and manageable remotely. While some areas of the Smart Office spotlight office technology devices, the Smart Office also covers reseller automation, digital workflow, meetings, and employee collaboration. Below is an interview overview with HP’s Stephan Schmitt, Head of Product Management, written by Keypoint Intelligence’s Christine Dunne.

Interview Summary

According to HP’s Stephan Schmitt, the office of the future is a key framework under which HP will organize and transform its business. This is not just a marketing strategy—it is an approach that will inform the company’s larger business strategy, in both the print and PC realm.

“Ultimately…It’s about creating an engaging and collaborative environment in a workforce that is increasingly mobile, in a workplace that is dramatically changing, and work styles and preferences that have significantly evolved over the last 10-plus years,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt emphasized the mobility point. An increasingly digital-native workforce is working out of a wide range of locations, including their workplace, their home, while traveling, a conference, and coffee shops.

“Increasingly, work is not getting done at your desk, where you tended to have all the infrastructure,” he said.

Mobile workers must not only be able to access digital information no matter where they are, 24/7, but they must be able to easily submit print jobs regardless of location. This involves a radical change to the print paradigm, so it becomes an element of one’s mobile work lifestyle process.

“You should be able to access print and submit a print job no matter where you are or which device you are using in a very simple, native experience,” Schmitt said.

HP Roam was recently introduced for this very purpose. This cloud-based service enables workers to easily and securely submit and release print jobs to a wide variety of printers, regardless of location.

Another core pillar of HP’s office of the future strategy is security. For organizations to support the free flow of information as well as a connected knowledge workforce, they must enable workers to securely access and share content. This means inside and outside of the company firewall, though endpoint security.

“If you can’t do this, you lack the foundation for innovation,” Schmitt said.

In both the print and PC spheres, HP has incorporated advanced security solutions into its devices through its own technology and services as well as partnerships with companies like McAfee and Microsoft. This includes application whitelisting, mobile phone authentication, and integration capability with a larger IT environment.

HP is also refining technology to monitor network traffic, identify potential threats, and respond to these threats more proactively. HP considers its security focus a key differentiator.

Another important focus for HP is bringing paper back into the “path of work.” According to Schmitt, the transition between digital and paper processes is not often seamless. People must leave a digital process, enter a paper-based process, and then find a way to connect the two.

“The picture we are drawing is the print industry in aggregate has allowed themselves to be pushed out of the path of work, recognizing that the entire office of the future strategy is to bring paper back into the path of work,” Schmitt said.

With companies increasingly using cloud services for tasks like healthcare management and legal matters management, HP and its resellers are striving to help them link their print and PC devices to these services. Providing these kinds of connectors has taken on greater importance for HP than developing its own software solutions; it plans to make an announcement in this area in the coming months.

“We do (business process optimization) in a way that it integrates into the customer environment rather than competing with it, another difference from some of our competitors,” Schmitt said. “Very much a partner play.”

In addition to McAfee and Microsoft, Schmitt mentioned partners like Amazon for cloud purposes, ECi for service delivery, McKesson for healthcare solutions, and Abacus for legal solutions.

HP’s different initiatives around the office of the future center on smart connected devices that link to cloud infrastructure, machine learning, and artificial intelligence—which then feed into an applications ecosystem.

In addition to the network monitoring and threat identification example noted above, HP is using pattern recognition and analysis to predict the failure of PC and print device components before they fail. This information goes directly into a fleet management tool, enabling improved deployment of technicians, inventory of parts, and supply chain management.

“We have five or six components where we have about 95% accuracy relative to predicting a certain type of failure…,” Schmitt said.

Consistent with these different initiatives, HP is shifting the marketing focus away from print devices and features to areas like security, managed services, mobility, and workflow integration. Schmitt added that the company is also dedicated to helping its indirect channel partners shift from a printer-focused business to one that is software- and services-led.