Lexmark Enters the IoT Market with the Launch of Its Optra IoT Platform

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By Michael Larner | 4Q 2021 | IN-6310

More often associated with printers and toner cartridges, Lexmark has launched its Optra IoT platform, the firm’s new Internet of Things (IoT) portfolio for helping manufacturing companies to keep tabs on their connected devices and uncover imminent asset performance issues.

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Print Services—and Now IoT

NEWS


More often associated with printers and toner cartridges, Lexmark has launched its Optra IoT platform, the firm’s new Internet of Things (IoT) portfolio for helping manufacturing companies to keep tabs on their connected devices and uncover imminent asset performance issues. Initially, the Optra platform will be available for customers in the United States and Europe.

Optra is based on the expertise that Lexmark’s customer support operations have built up in proactively and remotely resolving printer performance issues based on data transmitted from printer sensors that are allied with analytical expertise to identify and troubleshoot issues. Separate from Lexmark’s printing business, Optra can be integrated with any connected device with insights generated by Lexmark’s artificial intelligence software.

The IoT service provides an additional revenue stream for Lexmark—in addition to Lexmark’s printers and cloud print services—and also differentiates Lexmark from print rivals such as Ricoh that now offers information management and digital services (see the ABI Research free white paper, “Trends in Supporting and Scaling Modern Automation”).

More Than a Data Collection Solution

IMPACT


The Optra IoT platform applies machine-learning models to catalog the data generated by its sensors. Lexmark describes Optra as being a central hub for intelligence as the platform integrates with a customer’s enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management system to produce insights relating to asset performance that is displayed in dashboards. In addition, Lexmark has consulting teams that help customers deploy the IoT platform at their facilities. As an example, Lexmark has the ability not only to monitor a customer’s toner usage but also to proactively supply toner and other consumables.

Lexmark can help equipment manufacturers with their servitization models by having customers pay for uptime or pay based on production levels. But perhaps more importantly, the Optra IoT platform positions Lexmark to assist manufacturers with creating and managing a digital thread of their production line with data shared among design, engineering, manufacturing, and commercial teams. Each stakeholder receives real-time data and can focus on product performance, operational efficiencies, or sales enablement.

Currently, the target segments for Optra are medical device manufacturers, heavy equipment manufacturers that serve mining firms, and manufacturers of consumer goods.

Lexmark Needs More Intergration to Take on Smart Manufacturing Leaders

RECOMMENDATIONS


The Optra IoT Platform can help manufacturers to optimize their equipment and products, but Lexmark needs to add several capabilities to be considered by enterprise customers. For example, industrial edge computing is a focus of attention, and Lexmark could integrate Optra with edge intelligence providers such as ADLINK or Altizon (see ABI Research’s “Hot Tech Innovators: The Industrial Edge” [PT-2394]).

But in the near term, it is more important to create a partner ecosystem so that Lexmark can serve customers on a global scale and grow opportunities within individual verticals. Consultants will be significant for the time being in helping customers break data silos and maximize insights.

The next iterations of Optra must include several enhancements to challenge the likes of PTC and Siemens. Lexmark needs to ensure that Optra can connect to devices and equipment via as many data protocols as possible (such as open platform communications or unified architecture), support complex event processing, and enable augmented reality–based business processes. However, the focus on integrating data collected with business applications will serve Lexmark well—as will the focus on providing customers with a digital thread so that multiple teams can gain insights from the products in use. Eventually the Optra IoT Platform needs to add the ability to create digital twins of the products in use and be able to run simulations on product performance and the knock-on effects for suppliers and distribution.

For more information regarding smart manufacturing platform vendors, please see the ABI Research report, Smart Manufacturing Platforms Competitive Ranking (CA-1308).

 

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