Get Mobile Printing Up and Running: What CIOs Need to Know
To protect security and company assets, a mobile strategy must include print
By Brent Richtsmeier
Enterprise workplace infrastructure is changing. Gartner found that total mobile sales into the enterprise globally are greater than 200,000 per year, while PCs are half that. The PC installed base has been on a steady decline since 2014, while the mobile installed base is on the rise - meaning mobile is set to surpass the PC installed base in 2017.
However, even as more employees work from their own devices instead of PCs, and work on the go, they still require a key office capability: the ability to print.
Trillions of pages are printed each year, because workflows still require it; paper remains the universal medium, and tasks like reviewing, proofing and collaboration are easier to do on a hard copy of a document than on a small screen. The 2015 IDC study "Mobile Device Users/Non-Users: Print, Scan, Document Management, Worldwide" predicts that mobile-printed pages are expected to grow approximately 24 percent by 2018, and that business mobile printing is a 2017 focus, with more than 90 percent of business mobile users valuing the ability to print from anywhere.
This means that a company's mobile/BYOD strategy must include print, because personal devices need to integrate with the office workflow from a functionality perspective - and building in a print strategy lets CIOs ensure that security and assets are not being compromised.
The Fundamentals of Mobile Printing in the Enterprise
Mobile printing is still somewhat in its infancy, relative to desktop printing, and not all network infrastructure enables easy printing. Some solutions work just fine if the network topology is simple, but once it becomes more complex, a more in-depth application may be needed to manage print output.
As BYOD policies took hold in the workplace, many CIOs implemented an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution to manage mobile devices. VMWare AirWatch, MobileIron, and BlackBerry/Good are all top providers of EMMs, each with their own specialties - for example, BlackBerry is focused on certain verticals, AirWatch has perhaps the largest breadth of installation, MobileIron is driving innovation around access and control, and so on.
Managing printing via individual device may require a similar solution: an enterprise print management solution (EPMS), which could be either based in the cloud or in the enterprise data center. These are commercial solutions that allow users to print in a queue and also provide tracking for cost and security purposes. Often, they provide some sort of release so documents aren't just floating out to a printer, unmanaged.
These are similar to solutions already used with PCs/desktops as companies have migrated from direct printing from a PC to an intermediate solution that provides increased security and/or access control to documents.
If a company already has an EPMS, many solutions have a module that supports mobile printing; a CIO just needs to set it up, configure it and integrate it with the EMM or mobile device management (MDM) software. Once that's done, push configurations can be enabled.
If an enterprise does not currently have an EPMS or MDM solution, but wants to implement one for the sake of general security as well as mobile print security, there are multiple solutions that allow mobile printing. Equitrack from Nuance is a more high-end, feature-rich solution, while PaperCut is a more economical solution with a broad set of features.
If one is looking for a solution with cloud and public printing integrated into the enterprise, EFI or PrinterOn may work - the right solution will depend on an individual company, and resellers can help provide direction on the best fit.
Mobile Printing: The Wave of the Future
According to IDC, in 2015, approximately 36 percent of business smartphone users were printing via mobile. IDC predicts that by 2018, that number will skyrocket to 55 percent.
The number of users printing via mobile device will continue to rise throughout the years, making it essential for IT to define policies around all printed material in a company, whether it comes from a company-issued PC or from an employee's personal device. It is first and foremost a security issue, as well as to provide access and control/management.
Additionally, users will begin to demand this feature, if they aren't already. Enterprise infrastructure may be changing, but the basic functionalities an employee expects in a workplace remain the same - so just because digital is in doesn't mean paper is out.
The most important thing to remember is that getting ahead of a mobile print strategy allows you to let it happen on your own terms. Employees may already be printing via their mobile device, or trying to figure out how to, and providing a standard installation that people can use to print, and integrating print into a mobile strategy, will ensure that the capability doesn't create chaos for CIOs.