The BYOD trend brings many benefits to the enterprise. It increases employee mobility, and provides greater efficiency as employees access business information anytime from anywhere. However, this has caused some unexpected challenges for IT departments as employees expect PC-like functionality from these devices and have put the pressure on IT to make it happen. As employee dependency on mobile devices increases, so do their expectations for how the devices function in and out of the office.
Whether a company is standardizing on tablets or employees are bringing in personal mobile devices, there are some common oversights that occur. Surprisingly, at the top of the list is the need for mobile printing. In fact, a recent TechNavio report points to printing as the most requested feature in mobile devices. Although many people might assume they can simply click “print” from their tablet or smartphone and print to their normal workplace printer this is not the case on most devices. In many companies, IT has misjudged the need for hard copy documents and is realizing that employees need to print from these devices. An IDC report confirmed this need, citing an increase of users printing from their mobile devices in 2012 that will continue to grow as more devices are brought into the enterprise.
We challenge IT to consider mobile printing as a key to employee mobility and productivity. IT should discuss what they want their employees’ mobile print user experience to be by answering a few questions. Should all employees have a simple way to print regardless of their type of device? How will documents and data be secured? How easy will it be to teach employees a new way to print from the devices? To help decision makers think through the printing process, here are some of the top criteria to consider based on our experience working with enterprise customers.
The Employee and IT Experience
Printing should be simple and easy for employees and require as little training as possible. Employees printing from mobile devices should be able to do so directly from any application without an added step of accessing a separate app on the device. All types of devices should be supported by a mobile printing solution, and should have the flexibility to print to any brand or type of printer.
Mobile printing software should also integrate seamlessly into the existing corporate infrastructure, and require no additional hardware costs. For IT, the management of the printing solution must be straightforward, so they can focus their attention on other critical job functions. We recommend looking for a solution that supports IT’s administrative needs, such as a central dashboard for configuring and managing the existing print infrastructure and enabling mobile printing across the entire printer fleet, regardless of brand.
Managing and tracking printing from mobile devices inside the enterprise has posed challenges for IT departments big and small. With desktop and laptop computers, IT can set printing parameters by user. However, this becomes harder when employees bring their own device to work. When choosing a solution, select one that allows IT managers to track and manage print jobs from mobile devices, integrating with job accounting software.
Mobile printing software should also allow IT to implement policies to manage access to printers within the company based on a user ID. IT can use mobile printing to enforce policies that control which printers can be used and the types of printing options available (e.g., black/white or color) for each user or department.
Security and Control
Security and protecting sensitive information remains a top priority for enterprises. Mobile printing software must provide a secure way to print, as well as keep print jobs within the firewall. A private cloud allows print jobs to be held in a queue inside the firewall, with no upload to an external public cloud required. In selecting a solution, also look for one that allows IT to set how long documents will remain in the secure queue.
Being able to provide secure Wi-Fi printing from inside and outside the firewall to printers located on the corporate network, without changing the current firewall settings, is also an important security consideration. Additionally, secure-release functionality can offer users who print from their mobile device the ability to release their print jobs when they are at the printer. This ensures sensitive documents are not left at the printer. Furthermore, attention should also be given to software that has the ability to authenticate mobile users against Active Directory to secure printers from unauthorized use.
Don’t Forget About Laptops
Today’s BYOD environment is not exclusive to tablets and smartphones – employees still use personal or company-issued laptops. While “file-print” is the standard print functionality from laptops, employees that are away from their work area or at another company building or site are likely not to have print drivers loaded for nearby printers. In order to print, employees will need to place a call to the IT helpdesk or incur productivity loss, as well as potential security risk, by asking co-workers to print from USB drives or forwarded emails. A universal print driver as part of a mobile printing solution will keep mobile workers productive and data secure.
A mobile printing solution should be flexible. In companies that do not yet allow employee mobile devices on the corporate network, employees who bring their own devices to work expect the same level of efficiency as if they were. Guest printing is essential for these employees in addition to visitors, including contractors and consultants, who need to print. An optimal guest printing solution allows users to print onsite without IT granting protected network access or opening additional firewall ports.
Choosing a Solution
Depending on your company needs and situation, certain features will take priority over others for a mobile printing solution. Ultimately, it is important that businesses realize the full advantages of employee BYOD efficiency and productivity, without creating security risks or causing additional headaches for IT. Understand the basic challenges of mobile printing in your environment before beginning any initiative and then start with a proof of concept to ensure the solution you chose is a good fit for your company’s needs.