According to IDC research, there were approximately 1.3 billion mobile workers in 2015—37% of the total workforce. Mobile devices printed an estimated 2 billion pages in 2015, and that number is expected to increase to 10 billion documents by 2020.
Thanks to the cloud, mobile users can now print anytime and anywhere from their handheld devices without installing print drivers or having other specific knowledge about the printer, such as its IP address. Mobile workers can leave their computers behind when traveling outside of the "home office," knowing they can still print documents as needed.
As more and more companies are adopting cloud printing, new technology is being developed to facilitate it. Among the most popular public cloud printing implementations are Google Cloud Print, which enables users to print from a mobile device to any printer that’s "cloud ready" or connected to a PC running the Google Chrome OS and HP ePrint, which allows mobile users to print from any smart device to any HP ePrint enabled printer.
EFI was the first to enable mobile printing with the launch of its PrintMe product over a decade ago. This cloud-enabled solution allows driverless printing from a PC or handheld device to PrintMe-enabled printers, which are typically found in the business centers of many hotels and thousands of locations worldwide.
Canon Mobile Print App for iPhone and iPad is a free app that enables printing across Canon MPFS and LBP printers and supports options such as customization, feeding and stapling. Users can print Microsoft Office documents and web pages, as well as JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, TIFF and PDF files.
The Xerox Mobile Print Solution is a private cloud solution that enables users to print from any Internet-connected smartphone or tablet to any EIP-enabled Xerox MFP on an organization's network. The solution integrates with existing email and authentication systems.
Factors to consider when assessing a mobile print solution
Among company executives’ top concerns around the adoption of cloud printing solutions is the effect the new technology will have on data and network security. Organizations want the ability to securely authenticate and track mobile users who access printing devices from smartphones or tablets. But there are other factors your customers should consider as well:
- In most BYOD environments, employees don’t use the same operating system on their smartphone or tablet, so Wi-Fi printing should work with both the Android and iOS operating systems. Options should also be available to print from BlackBerry and Windows devices.
- Wi-Fi printing from iPads and iPhones should work without users having to open the document inside another application. That’s inconvenient, especially when printing web pages.
- Very few organizations standardize on one brand of printer, so it’s important that any Wi-Fi printing solution be printer-agnostic.
- Make sure the printing solution can print various file formats other than Word documents and PDFs, including PNGs, JPEGs and TIFFs.
- Today’s enterprises often have multiple wireless subnets, so the mobile printing solution should be able to print from them.
- For guest printing, the solution needs to provide secure, Wi-Fi printing from outside the firewall to printers located on the corporate network—without opening new ports.
- Authentication capabilities are essential. The mobile printing solution should have the ability to print securely with release authorization at the printer—to keep sensitive printed documents from being left unattended at the printer. And to secure printers from unauthorized use, the printing solution needs to be able to authenticate users against Active Directory.
- Finally, to help manage print costs, the printing solution should integrate with Equitrac, PaperCut, Go Print and other print job accounting systems.
Integrating a mobile printing solution doesn’t have to be difficult. By considering these issues upfront, your customers can enjoy the convenience and efficiency of being able to securely print from the device of their choice at any time—and having a better handle on workflow.
As their trusted advisor and business partner, your customers may look to you for recommendations on which solutions make the most sense. It’s important that they weigh factors like security and cost that don’t sacrifice flexibility and functionality.