By Charles Stones, Professional Services Consultant at Altodigital
Over the last 12 months we have seen increasing demand for mobile print solutions from companies of all sizes, as BYOD becomes more common in the workplace and employees become increasingly mobile. Much of this demand is originating from employees themselves; they can work where they want, so why not print?
IT departments are quite rightly looking to organisations like ourselves to put in place secure and powerful mobile print systems to effectively manage this process, but it’s important for businesses fully understand the opportunities as well as the risks when it comes to BYOD and mobile print.
Exactly what is mobile print?
As a business we categorise mobile print into two key areas. Firstly there is public printing through specific print apps and public hotspots with the facility to print to devices in airport lounges or hotels for example, typically when travelling or in a field-based role
Secondly, there is corporate printing, utilising solutions that enable printing from smartphone and tablet technology to any device within the business network, which is useful for organisations with different sites, locations and campuses.
Both options offer flexibility for workforces and authentication to ensure only the recipient printing the document can retrieve it.
What does mobile print mean for companies?
Firstly, and contrary to popular opinion, we’re seeing the increasing use of tablet and smart phone technology is in some cases actually increasing print volumes across a company, as employees benefit from total flexibility, able to print remotely from any device, rather than being tethered to a desk-based computer.
While it might not be the case across the board, we’re certainly not seeing any reduction in print volumes, nor do we expect to.
The second issue when it comes to mobile print is security. For those businesses handling sensitive data, it’s essential that the opportunity for staff to use unproven and un-tested mobile print software is minimised and that any mobile print solution is driven by the company, not the employee.
Widely used, and often operating under the organisational radar, unsecured mobile print apps can in some cases cause significant security breaches, as confidential information is sent across company networks from device to printer.
Further adding to this problem is the fact that many IT Departments still haven’t got a handle on the more fundamental BYOD issues, such as integrating mobile devices with their network. That makes issues around mobile print and BYOD very far down their list of priorities.
However, ones thing’s certain; this trend is not going away, and it’s important for end-users to be on the front foot, or risk a serious security breach in the future. For BYOD to work effectively, it’s essential that organisations formulate a clear strategy that is rolled out across their entire workforce to ensure there is uniformity in mobile print from any personal devices and that the policy is driven centrally.