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Leaving the Laptop Behind with Mobile Print

by Andy Jones, director and general manager, Global Document Outsourcing, Xerox Europe

Mobile technology makes it possible for people to connect to the workplace at all times. The number of remote workers has already risen dramatically and is forecasted to grow further – by 2013, 1.2 billion people (or 35% of the workforce population) are expected to work from someplace other than their office desks. 

At the same time, the adoption of smartphones and tablets is increasing at a phenomenal rate. IDC suggests these numbers will only get larger, with smartphone shipments reaching 982 million by 2015.

With the confluence of these dynamic trends, enterprise networks face significant new challenges - not least, ensuring users can print anytime, anywhere from mobile devices without needing to install print drivers, whilst maintaining the security of the corporate network.

IT departments have a further hurdle when it comes to mobile workers. Even though the company may have provided them with devices, many mobile workers are also interested in using their personal smartphones and tablets for work. That means IT departments must increasingly support this progressively mobile workforce by giving them access to business applications on the go.

So how does mobile print fit into this landscape? The first clue is in the name: mobile print makes life easier for workers on the go. Whether printing a boarding pass at a hotel, or printing documents at a new corporate location without IT assistance, mobile print provides the solution.

But there are other benefits that stream more directly to the business. For example, mobile print can extend an organisation’s control of print costs, allowing a company to save money by increasing visibility and management of remote workers’ print spend. And, the IT department can feel the upside of mobile print when automated tools and capabilities minimise IT incidents for the mobile workforce – and thereby reduce support costs. 

There’s also an environmental benefit, which, as you might remember from my last post, is a focus of many businesses. Mobile print takes the mystery out of print usage and costs across the virtual enterprise, so companies can ensure remote workers adhere to enterprise sustainability initiatives.

Although “pre-announcements” about mobile printing pepper the news, real business solutions are only just starting to emerge. To my mind, so far no company has fulfilled on the promise of easy, seamless and ubiquitous mobile printing that fits the needs of all groups. CIOs should be enthusiastic about this technology, but they also should proceed with caution. They should look only at solutions delivered by trusted specialists who understand users’ print requirements – especially those concerning security – and who can demonstrate their solution in action. 

Xerox has a great partnership with Procter & Gamble (P&G) and our teams continue to put their heads together to improve the way both companies do business. P&G has been extensively involved in the launch and development of our mobile print solution which enables companies with a mobile workforce to print directly from their mobile phone.

The solution can be used from any smart phone and does not require users to load additional software or search for printer information.  When the mobile worker wants to print a document, he or she is simply sent a specific job code that can be entered into a networked printer. Once the code is approved, the secure server releases the documents for printing.

Cisco is also using this mobile print solution as part of a new managed print services (MPS) strategy. Xerox will provide Cisco’s workforce with more cost-effective ways to produce and manage documents, improving the efficiency of Cisco’s print environment by 20 percent. Using the Xerox Enterprise Print Services (EPS) platform to support a new cloud-based mobile print solution, Cisco employees will be able to securely print from any device, anytime, anywhere without the hassle of downloading software or booting up their laptops.

As enterprise-level mobile printing becomes more widespread, I believe we will see the working environment become even more portable. For now, mobile workers generally have instant access to an electronic copy of most documents wherever they are, but if they need hard-copies they have to plan ahead. As a result, workers habitually carry laptops with them as ‘back-up’. In the future, the mobile worker will seldom be required to carry more than their smart phone when they leave the office – yet they will still maintain access to the printed word.

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