In 1984 I was graduating from College (yes – that makes me OLD!). In that same year, IBM sold 2 million PC’s, Apple Introduced the 128K Mac, and the total PC market (including Atari/Commodare) had grown to a massive 6 million units! The office technology market for PC’s was just beginning to take off (for comparison, by 10 years later, PCs were selling at a rate of 40 million units per year). In 1984, and the following year 1985, two key office imaging products were introduced that would set the stage for the next 20 years of massive growth. The HP Laserjet and the Apple Laserwriter.
The world of imaging in the office is changing at an accelerating pace. In the five previous major eras of office imaging, we have seen each successive era become shorter in length, with increasing technology, economic, and social change. The pre-electronic era where typewriters ruled lasted 124 years. The last era, the services and commodity products era, lasted twelve. We propose that we are entering into the next era, the data era, where the focus shifts from technology, services, and products to using data to improve business processes, profits, and to ensure viability of the business. This new era has dramatic implications for who is at work, how they will work, and what their workplace is. Led by a new generation of workers, millennials, it will be fundamentally different than the eras which preceded it in almost every respect.