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Cloud printing: Key for the mobile workforce

01 Dec 2011

Today, virtually no one in the workforce needs to be at their desk to work, check email or communicate with co-workers and customers. Notebooks and PDAs have evolved into all-in-one smartphones and tablet devices, and broadband wireless networks make it possible for people to be connected wherever their business takes them. The merger of cloud services and mobile devices has been one of the most significant enablers of business productivity and innovation in the last decade. According to a recent report from IDC, the mobile worker population will pass one billion this year and reach 1.2 billion by 2013. A wide range of technologies has evolved to help mobile workers stay productive on the road; however, until now a key business process has eluded the mobility movement: printing. Even the most technically-enabled business travellers find themselves hunting down print services while away from the office to simply print a document. Now, cloud-based mobile printing services, allowing the user to print from virtually anywhere, can solve this problem and enable businesses to drive productivity further. Employees can easily print presentations, reports, photos and more from their smartphone or laptop, wherever they are to their home or office just by sending them to the printer’s unique email address. For small businesses, this involves emailing documents directly to their printer’s unique and secure email address. The document passes through the cloud where it is rendered and sent to the printer via the internet. For professionals who travel or work remotely, cloud printing is available as a free, downloadable application for a variety of smartphones. The user simply searches for and prints to a mobile print location, such as a print and copy shop, hotel, café or airport lounge. Key opportunity A key reseller opportunity lies in selling mobile printing solutions to larger or enterprise organisations. Mobile printing forms part of a managed print solution, and is scalable and centrally administered. Helping your customers manage their organisation’s entire printing and imaging environment strategically with a managed print solution enables them to take control of printing costs, simplify the management of print devices to improve productivity and reduce their environmental footprint. By working closely with your customers, you can design a tailored, adaptable printing environment to suit their business needs and manage hardware, maintenance and consumables to improve workflow and productivity. For any organisation where mobility is a part of how the business runs, it is likely that cloud printing has a role to play in this managed print environment. At the enterprise-level, a mobile print experience helps employees to stay productive by giving them the power to convert mobile content into hard copy for easy reading, markup and sharing on the fly.  Each employee can print directly from their mobile device to printers in the organisation’s network and to mobile print locations. And, as you already know, organisations respond well to solutions that improve workforce productivity, allow their company to be more agile and responsive to customers and ultimately influence the bottom line. Selling productivity not printers Selling cloud printing is not about selling printers: it’s about selling solutions that improve workflows and productivity within a business. Here’s an example. A trucking company might need its truck drivers to send their signed delivery dockets back to head office to send out its invoices and get paid. The drivers currently fax or post the dockets back to head office from around the country or wait until they return to hand them in. They usually need to find a fax machine or post office, and it can take a number of days for the dockets to make their way to the finance department. With cloud print functionality, the drivers can take a photo of the signed docket with their smartphone and ePrint it back to the office within minutes. All the company requires is an ePrint capable printer. The concept of printing via the cloud can be daunting to a non-technical customer, as the cloud is not something they can see or touch and there can be a misconception that cloud services are only for large organisations. Customers respond well when they can relate to a scenario that might take place in their own business. In a sales-based organisation, you might share how a sales person who spends most of his time on the road can use cloud printing to send important documents to print back at the office. He can use his smartphone or tablet to send files to a suitable printer – even sending it to company printers located at different sites. The printouts will then be waiting at the office just in time for the big meeting. No print drivers, no hassle One of the advantages of cloud printing is that it requires no print drivers and doesn’t need software or network printers to be installed on each device. It is estimated that 30% of IT help desk calls are print related and a large portion of these are to do with print drivers. Eliminating the need for print drivers and cables eliminates much of the hassle for the IT manager, benefits that can be particularly attractive in smaller organisations where IT resources are limited. While cloud printing has many benefits that you can share with your customers, some partners report that a small number of customers have raised concerns around the security of printing in the cloud. You can allay their fears by explaining that mobile printing is no more or less secure than sending an email. Solutions can be tailored and organisations have the option of using the public cloud, or building ePrint into their own private cloud. At the enterprise level, data never leaves the secure enterprise network, and the ability to integrate with pull-and PIN-printing solutions that require user authentication enhances security. Consider the opportunity Mobility is no longer new – it’s now just part of how organisations operate. Your customers may have already experienced the frustration of not being able to print from their new smartphone or tablet, but not realised that there is a solution. Take the opportunity to find out more about how they are using their mobile devices and consider how cloud-based printing solutions might help their business to run more smoothly.