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The opportunities and challenges of cloud printing

January 17, 2017

Thanks to cloud printing, users can now print from anywhere, at anytime, through any device. They can send and print documents from laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets to thousands of print locations worldwide—simply by emailing their document to a cloud-printing provider.

Companies like Google, HP and Lexmark offer cloud-printing services, and so do service providers like FedEx Office. For even greater convenience, the cloud services available with most mobile printing apps now geo locate the closest printer location and pinpoint it on the user’s device.

More and more businesses are integrating cloud-printing technology into their everyday operations—and for good reasons. Users can print from whatever device they have, without worrying about installing drivers. This means greater convenience, lower costs and less need for tech support. With cloud printing, print management is outsourced to the cloud, too. Printing software upgrades are done automatically and in real time. And IT staff doesn’t have to deal with print servers, drivers, cables—and repairs.

Why should your customers consider cloud-printing technology?

  • They are looking for greater printing efficiency. In traditional printing scenarios, employees may accidentally print way too many copies of the same document—and the invariable paper jams can wreak havoc on printer traffic, causing huge delays (and headaches). With cloud printing, on the other hand, organizations can look at ways to improve efficiency because they’ll have access to data that reveals how much they print and who’s printing what and when.
  • They want a greener option. Cloud printing provides greater control over what’s printed, so companies use and waste less paper. And since users can print to any device on a network, it eliminates the need to transport documents from one site to another—reducing an organization’s carbon footprint.
  • They need to empower a mobile workforce. Cloud printing gives users the freedom and flexibility to work and print from just about anywhere. And considering recent estimates that predict that 65% of the workforce will be mobile by the end of 2017, this is particularly significant.

 

Ensuring document security

While cloud printing services use secure HTTPS web connections that delete documents from the cloud as soon as they are printed, they’re not totally secure. After all, many other users and organizations share the servers that hold the printing data. Which is why enterprises that handle documents with sensitive and confidential data—such as government agencies, healthcare organizations and financial services companies—may be averse to using the public cloud to print. 

Given the convenience, low cost and flexibility of cloud printing, companies may want to take added steps like data encryption so they can print from the cloud more securely. To be even more confident, they could implement a private cloud, where their information lives behind a secure firewall, and then reinforce it with a virtual private network (VPN) for an additional layer of security. While private clouds can be costly to implement, they offer greater control and peace of mind.

Traditional printing or cloud printing?

Public or private, cloud printing can be an effective way for organizations to increase efficiency and save money. If your customers are still printing the traditional way, they may want to consider it. Here are some questions that can help you advise them if it’s the right option right now:

  •  How many BYOD users does their company have? Realistically, how many employees use their mobile devices for work and would use them to print?
  •  What’s the nature and structure of their organization? Do a lot of employees telecommute, work from satellite offices—or on the road?
  •  What types of documents do they typically print? Are they in an industry like healthcare or financial services that handles a lot of sensitive or confidential information?
  •  How much do they typically print? Are they a document-intensive organization?
  •  How much is the cloud integrated into their daily operations right now? What are their plans for the cloud in the near future?

Any integration of new technology can be disruptive. You just want to make sure that implementing mobile printing is worth the time and effort.