Why It’s Smart to Consider a Barcode Printer a “Thing” in the Internet of Things

IoT technology fills in the gap that kept barcode printers unconnected and unmanaged.

IoT

Mobile device management (MDM) solutions give businesses and enterprises the ability to monitor, track and secure mobile deployments. With MDM, you can configure new devices, push updates, have insight into device health and battery life – even locate a lost device. There’s one thing you can’t do with most MDM solutions, however: manage barcode printers.

Solutions leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technology, such as SOTI Connect, are changing that. It expands device management to include IoT devices, including Brother mobile printers as well as IoT sensors and an expanding ecosystem of smart devices.

Is a Printer a “Thing”?

Nick D’Alessio, Senior Business Development Manager at Brother Mobile Solutions, points out why managing barcode printers as a part of an IoT ecosystem makes sense. “Printers behave more like IoT devices than devices now managed by MDM,” he says. “IoT solutions give businesses a way to monitor them. Barcode printers tell the management system where they are, what they’re doing, and what you can do to manage them.”

He also points out that printer models can vary widely, even within one deployment. “Diversified printers naturally fit into IoT,” D’Alessio explains, adding that IoT technology also allows an enterprise to add new devices without having to rip & replace software – and the vendor can introduce new printers without having to re-write all the printer software for the management system.

What IoT Management of Barcode Printers Looks Like

Managing barcode printers with IoT technology allows retail, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, or other operations using barcode printers to ensure they are correctly configured when they’re deployed, even in a batch. Enterprises can also adjust settings for better barcode quality, update firmware remotely, and proactively plan upgrades. Barcode printer management provides insight into battery life and whether print density or speed settings are correct – or if they need to be reset due to employee tampering.

“IoT management for barcode printers closes the gap that exists in many organizations,” D’Alessio says. “They can manage stationary devices plugged into the network and mobile devices on the move. Now they can also manage the barcode printer on their belts or on the forklift.”

Barcode printer management can also impact an enterprise’s security. David Crist, President of Brother Mobile Solutions, explains in an interview, “Maybe not quite as much as a handheld or a tablet, but mobile printers do carry a lot of business-vital data and perform key business functions.”

They can also be a target for hackers, creating an easy gateway for an attack. “Companies should have the benefit of knowing where their mobile printing assets are, how they are performing, and that they are being used in a secure environment,” Crist says.

Advantages that IoT Barcode Printer Management for ISVs and their channels

Furthermore, advancements that enable barcode management via IoT can provide an edge to ISVs and channel partners as well as to their end-user customers. Notably, managed barcode printers can decrease the number of support calls you receive. For example, when a mobile OS is updated and interferes with performance, the IoT solution can diagnose the problem and allow IT to push changes.

Additionally, it gives solution providers the opportunity to integrate with manageable barcode printers — devices that your users won’t have to spend time manually inspecting and configuring. Manageability can add significant value to the solutions you provide, especially for clients with large volumes of devices, which will see the greatest gains in efficiency and the most cost savings.

Spread the Word

D’Alessio comments that Brother has been fielding inquiries about the SOTI solution directly from end-users. The idea of managing printers as IoT devices has piqued their interest. But, they also immediately recognize that the solutions, specifically designed to address pain points related to printer management and security, is a safeguard against downtime, lost revenue and poor customer experiences.

Enterprises are also interested in the solution to enable their teams to maintain safe social distances through remote management, eliminating the need for users to take barcode printers to on-site IT for updates or troubleshooting.

Your clients may have used smart devices personally, but never considered how IoT device management could be applied to barcode printing processes. It’s time to talk to them about the advantages of connecting their printers to an Internet of Things management solution.


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Mike Monocello

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.