HP Exec Says 3D Printing, Rapid Urbanization to Determine Future of Systems Integrators

Published: November 7, 2017

Want to live in a “megacity?” One with about 10 million people? According to one HP executive, this living arrangement will soon be the norm. And it will change how systems integrators operate.

Christoph Schell, President, Americas, HP Inc., says the concept of Rapid Urbanization, or the growing expansion of city populations, is expected to have a significant impact on cities, infrastructure, services and the environment. [related]

These megacities will require a new level of infrastructure design and architectural planning, making it easier for residents to work and live in a dense setting.

“We’re in the early days of a 4th Industrial Revolution that will change the way we conceive, design, produce, distribute, and consume nearly everything. 3D printing is spearheading this global digital shift,” he says.

“Traditional manufacturing methods and processes are slowly becoming obsolete in our hyper-connected, fully digital new world.”

But if production and manufacturing are destined to inch ever closer to consumers, what will become of the “middle man” — systems integrators, and how will they reinvent AV in this new age?

3D Printing to Fuel the 4th Industrial Revolution

Schell waxed poetic with this concept at the 2017 SYNNEX Inspire Conference last month. During his presentation, he said the common spaces we all experience daily (sidewalks, auto deliveries, drones, robots) will be powered by robust tech infrastructure (sensors, data platforms, analytics, cloud, etc.) in the next 30 years.

Rapid Urbanization will transform cities into markets, create a new consuming class, change business models and increase the importance of global sustainability, he says. Just like information is now instantly accessible via the internet, the prediction states that products and manufacturing will need to keep up with increased demand.

Rapid prototyping is already a pool HP has dipped its toes into. Their work with Nike saw athletes don shoes and gear with tailor-made, 3D printed parts.

“We’re seeing rising demand for intense customization across a broad spectrum of vertical industries,” Schell says. “We recently announced the ability to produce lower-cost, full color 3D parts as well as metal 3D printing offerings.”

How Systems Integrators Will Survive Rapid Urbanization

All of this — the megacities, the 3D printing future-factories, the 4th Industrial Revolution — seems a bit speculative. Schell even made the bold claim that 3D printing will become a $12 billion market, which, though he provided evidence, still seems mind-boggling.

On a surface level, it also begs the question of relevancy for systems integrators in this New World. If consumers and — if the iPad and Alexa have taught us anything — corporations can receive customized, insta-printed goods and services, how can systems integrators earn their bread and cheese?

Schell says this mindset is too fatalistic.

“As a web of connected devices becomes even more complex, integrators will be the key to detangling home and commercial systems.”

Two Areas Where Systems Integrators Will Thrive

As the number of connected devices continues to grow and take shape, networks and end devices have become even more vulnerable to security breaches. According to Schell, this means integrators have a little more job security in the future than they think.

“The sophistication and volume of cyberattacks and data breaches is causing acute harm to businesses and people alike. This complex landscape makes securing devices, data and identities essential to preserving the trust and confidence customers have in the companies they do business with and the technology they deploy.”

Integrators must place an intense focus on two key areas: centralizing device management and app design/workflow tools, Schell says.

Don’t Forget 3D Printing

Of course, if systems integrators can throw their hat into the 3D printing ring, all the better. HP recently kicked off a 3D Printing Global Reseller Program which aims to expand its reach into that space while evangelizing the technology with partners. They even opened experiential facilities for customers and partners to experiment hands-on.

But it isn’t enough for integrators to simply spot a scenario where 3D printing could be of benefit. They’ll have to get more hands-on, say Schell.

“The real value I see for integrators is being able to train and coach employees on properly using theworkflow tools. For manufactures moving to a new style of working driven by technology, an enormous cultural shift is required to make the transition. Without reinforcement around adoption, it can be difficult to benefit from the full range of advantages of moving to this model.”

Calling this vision of the future the “4th Industrial Revolution” may seem a bit presumptuous. Will 3D printing and Rapid Urbanization really change the economy as much as Schell predicts it will?

Read next: Future-Proof Technology: Caught Between Confidence and a Credibility Issue

That question surely leaves room for debate, especially with how much work it insinuates integrators will need to put in. But they should consider taking Schell’s vision with a positive attitude, too. After all, it isn’t exactly cutting them out.

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