Steven Hastings, IT Distribution Channel Director at Ricoh, highlights the growing need for mobile printing solutions
There is no ignoring the increased use of smart devices within the workplace and, as a result, we are seeing a rapid growth in mobile working across a wide range of business environments. In fact, this year, the world’s mobile worker population is expected to reach 1.3 billion, helped along in the UK by the legal right of employees to make a request for flexible working.
Smart devices are becoming ever more popular and, with this in mind, businesses do not want employees to be bound by location and are encouraging them to be out and about on a daily basis, or working from home. It is a growing trend for workers to have no designated desk and some businesses are now only supplying a tablet, rather than a laptop, meaning the traditional connection between a PC and a single printer just isn’t an option any more. Employees are steadily being able to work from locations outside the office.
In order to effectively leverage the convenience and versatility of smart devices being used by the mobile workforce, businesses need to look at how documents and images can be printed as safely and as easily as in the office using a secure network.
Cutting out the middleman
The growing number of mobile workers who spend their time between a number of office locations are now demanding the same level of access to company documents, infrastructure and equipment as office-based colleagues. Printer manufacturers are moving fast to keep up with this demand.
If a mobile worker is only visiting an office location for a meeting or catch-up, having to email documents, PDFs and presentations back to a colleague’s PC or having to connect a laptop to a new network to print wastes many precious working hours. It is an unnecessary task for this modern, cloud-based age and in a recent survey by Ricoh, almost one in 10 workers cited IT and printing issues as the biggest waste of time in their company Employees should have access to a speedy, flexible and secure solution linking their smartphones or tablets to the office printer.
Manufacturers are rapidly establishing solutions to resolve this issue and the key development has been the creation of smart device applications (apps) for those wishing to print web pages, presentations, pictures or documents direct from a mobile device. These apps allow for easy printing of the data residing in cloud storage systems, PDFs, images, photographs and documents that can be hard to read on a small screen. Cutting out the middleman, or the PC in this case, and directly printing from a smart device can increase workflow and speed processes up. Such apps are also of benefit to clients and visitors to a company who may require physical output prior to a meeting.
Mobile printing does come with security risks. For example, hackers are now turning their attention to the humble office printer as a possible weak link that can help them capture sensitive data. Also, employees themselves are notorious for leaving documents on the printer increasing the risk of physical data theft. However, security features to combat such incidents are available. Printing apps now let users define passwords for documents that should not be seen by others. Prints are held in the printer’s memory until released by a PIN unique to each job. This eliminates unclaimed documents and reduces the risk of a data breach.
Businesses have faced many challenges in the last few years caused by the influx of mobile devices in the workplace. Being able to seamlessly connect these devices, not only to email and cloud services but also to office equipment like printers, is a major consideration. Printer manufacturers have responded quickly to this demand with solutions that make the mobile workforce a reality.
For further information on Ricoh’s range of printers, visit www.ricoh.co.uk/products/index.aspx