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Printing in the cloud—Lexmark digitizes its future with a modern workplace and Microsoft 365



Today’s post was written by Brad Clay, Senior Vice President, Chief Information and Compliance Officer at Lexmark International.

This is a fascinating time to be talking about the printer industry. It’s no surprise that the digitization of business contributed to a decline in traditional printing. However, most people don’t know that in the last 10 years, Lexmark reinvented itself as a tech-enabled company to achieve what we call our “digital thread strategy.” Even back then, we saw the printer less as a standalone device and more of an Internet of Things (IoT)–enabled component of business. Today, our average printer is equipped with more than 120 sensors dedicated to collecting data that we use to feed our R&D function and to enhance customer service. All this is stored in a single globally managed print services platform that services millions of printing devices across 170 countries/regions.

But as customers’ expectations for capability and service at the individual printer level—what I call “mass customization”—accelerates, Lexmark must be ready with innovative new services that take advantage of the scale and AI of cloud computing. Part of my role as CIO is to make sure that Lexmark remains ahead of industry trends. To that end, we’re transforming our work environment so that employees can achieve the level of productivity needed to deliver the innovative services our customers require. Microsoft offers a complete interoperable suite of cloud services that now forms the foundation for our digital transformation story. We had come a long way toward IoT-enabling our business, but the ability to leverage the Microsoft cloud platform means we can deploy industry-leading offers that take the IoT capabilities of our managed service platform to the next level. We’re using everything from Microsoft Azure to Microsoft 365 to Microsoft Dynamics 365.

As we expand our existing IoT expertise and drive the printer industry into the digital age, we’re innovating and using the Microsoft cloud platform to solve our customers’ problems in amazing new ways. Our Connected Field Service takes data from our Lexmark IoT Hub, augmented by Azure Machine Learning, and feeds information into Dynamics 365, so we can make predictive diagnostics for individual machines and alert service technicians to be ready. We just launched Lexmark Cloud Print Infrastructure as a Service, which also works off the Microsoft cloud platform. This provides access to a modern, secure cloud-based print environment via a subscription service. Customers pay only for print capacity, rather than owning and managing their printers.

A year ago, we had no relationship with Microsoft. We used other providers for email, teleconferencing, collaboration, security, digital workplace, customer relationship management, and business intelligence. We were looking at the future of connected print service when our architecture team laid out the value of the Microsoft cloud ecosystem. It was easy to see the rationale of moving away from a best-in-class approach to technology.

A key component of our transformation plays out in the workplace, where we use Microsoft 365 to enable highly secure global collaboration at an unprecedented level. Across the business, we use Microsoft Teams for morning checkpoints, video calls, documentation authoring, file sharing, and persistent chat. Ubiquitous and contextual collaboration drives organizational agility and accelerates the business. It was a major driver behind adopting Teams and the move to Microsoft.

Empowering employees fosters innovation, and here, the digital transformation at Lexmark delivers another benefit. Tools like Teams contribute to a culture of empowerment, where employees don’t have to rely on IT to start the next great project or to work together on the next innovation for Lexmark customers. With these products and services being designed to take advantage of Azure and Dynamics 365 for Sales, it’s easy to see the value of an end-to-end Microsoft cloud computing platform.

Under our Global Optimization 365 (GO365) program, we completely retooled the business in less than a year, retiring 13 legacy solutions. Thanks to cloud computing, we’ve reduced our IT spend year over year by 25 percent, and our partnership with Microsoft heavily enabled that. As we take advantage of the integrated security tools that are built into the Microsoft cloud platform, we’re seeing alerts and events communicated behind the scenes, in a consistent way, providing insights into the threat landscape and helping meet our security requirements—with less effort from IT. Moving to the Microsoft cloud platform, we doubled our security operations capacity and performance in just one year based on the number and quality of the feeds coming into our security information and event management solution and the ability of our security operations team to clear incidents. And all the while, we continue to refine our competitive advantage: that idea of mass customization, where we can deliver IoT-enabled printing services to customers at a price point that we don’t think anybody else can touch.

As we build on the promise of the cloud in the world of printers, we’re looking forward to working with Microsoft all the way.

—Brad Clay

Read the full case study to learn more about Lexmark’s move to a modern workplace.

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