Mobile devices have eliminated much of the functionality inherent on non-mobile devices, such as print drivers and other output controllers. They instead rely on cloud based functionality that they connect to only as needed. The ability to print from these mobile devices is becoming increasing prevalent, but it is still in the process of evolving.
As we now depend on our mobile devices to serve our needs in the same way our desktop computers do, we encounter many situations where a printout is required, often immediately. Printouts are required to sign contracts, produce invoices, archive records or to read long documents in an easier format. This is where cloud printing comes into play.
Operating in a hybrid cloud environment allows organizations to transition their daily business functions into the cloud for increased flexibility, scalability, and reduced costs. Typically, this should also include their print environment and every printer would be included in the process. However, some organizations have been hesitant to move their mission-critical functions and information, such as customer data, to public cloud environments where there are broad fears around security and uptime. The preference is usually to handle the IT management in-house. If problems arise, businesses want to be able to fix it right away, or at least have an explanation for their customers. Most often, the issue is not about cost, it’s about control.
Nowhere is the evolution and adoption of technology moving faster than in cloud computing. How printing fits into the maze of cloud computing is an evolving process. As with any technological shift, as the kinks are worked out, print environments will adapt.
Today, organizations that have embraced cloud technology typically utilize standalone cloud printing solutions that access device-based web-to-print interfaces or management information system (MIS) applications. The majority of solutions, however, remain on-premises.
Moving forward, as organizations get comfortable managing their printing apps in the cloud, other business solutions will also be moved to the cloud and integrated with a cloud-based print environment. Complete solutions that offer highly automated capabilities, running on a combination of on-premises and cloud systems, will be the norm. Where each app lives will depend strongly on the business-critical nature of that app, the data it controls, and the cost benefits of shifting it to the cloud.
A bit further down the road we will see the emergence of the of network accessed print environments, where the printing platform will be offered as a service and hosted entirely in the cloud. By that time, concerns about data control and security will be overcome to the point that the benefits of making the transition to cloud printing will outweigh the cost of keeping the print environment on premise.
As businesses continue to move their work-related materials to a connected cloud drive, they must also task themselves with conceiving a print environment that is both enterprise and mobile-ready. Managing a cloud print environment requires the same assessments as managing a localized print environment and needs to include an in-depth look at overall processes. Ideally, the chosen strategy will include a focus on IT services that address individual needs. The challenge for businesses will be finding the best solution and applying it to their needs.
Cloud-based print workflow is increasing able to offer a business benefits such as cost reduction, increased flexibility, customer engagement, and security and control. Organizations will be presented with a multitude of reasons to at least consider embracing cloud printing sooner rather than later.