Lexmark’s Andy Kopp on democratizing data

The printer manufacturer’s Director of Transformation Products discusses the business impact of providing data-as-a-service with CIO.com’s Thor Olavsrud.

data explosion / data streams / volume / velocity
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As a global printer and imaging products company, Lexmark generates a lot of data.  To manage and gain insight from that data, Lexmark has created the Product Digital Thread, which has transformed business decision making in the company. 

It also transformed Director of Transformation Products Andy Kopp’s role, from delivering digital transformation projects to Lexmark to delivering service enablement of IoT products and services to a wider market.

CIO.com’s Thor Olavsrud sat down with Kopp at the CIO 100 Symposium and Awards to learn more about this award-winning project and its impact on the business.

Following are edited excerpts of that conversation. The full video of the conference session is below.

Thor Olavsrud: What is the Product Digital Thread?

Andy Kopp: The Product Digital Thread is really the correlated business consumable data, spanning the lifecycle of our products.  Hardware and supplies and key components, like our Fuser Laser Scanning Unit for printers.  This really manifests itself as three distinct layers within our Azure Data Lake, what we call our raw, refine, and consumption layers.  And these tiers of data are really kind of purpose driven, to support users really across a broad spectrum of their analytics needs, whether they be a data scientist, whether they be something more like a key user or even just an end business user.  Something that can serve up data to be consumed by that whole spectrum of business consumers.

What was required to bring this project to fruition in terms of changes to process, skills, and culture? 

There was really no data management technology or capability that was left untouched during this exercise….  [There was] an almost complete retooling of technical skills … [and] most of this transition was very much on-the-job training. 

And for IT on top of that, really, we had to pivot from being more of a—I’ll just call it more of a recipient of business requirements—to really transforming into being more change agents. 

Can you tell us a little bit about what the results have been?  

We now have this information framework that really enables us to have this more effective governance, which again, is key, with capabilities like being able to really establish a single global data dictionary and business glossary.  And along with that, data genealogy.  We’ve really found those things to be critical to develop trust in the consumers of the data. 

We’ve also now seen, as far as some of these use cases that we’ve enabled through the Product Digital Thread, they’ve gone into production, not just for our own internal facing use and operations, but also customer facing.  So that’s a big step in our solution maturity, to expose this information in a customer business consumable form to over 700 of our top customers in our Managed Print Services offering. 

We’re using this data to make smarter decisions about how we refresh our assets and major components in our customers’ managed print fleets.  We’re using it to provide this closed-loop feedback from devices in the field to these upstream processes in product design and manufacturing and supply chain.  We also are using it, for example, to gain a better understanding of any potential revenue loss we might have in our in our consumables, in our print cartridges, that we might have lost to black and gray marketeers, which are prevalent in this imaging industry. 

So as our business sees this progress, gets more comfortable with the whole notion of this single version, single source of truth for this business data, we really expect to see a dramatic increase in the maturing of our analytics. …  We really anticipate moving into the predictive and ultimately prescriptive levels of maturity with this, as we as we grow over time. 

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