Companies have spent the last decade trying to solve the mobile printing problem, producing multiple products. Despite the rush to enable mobile functionality for the enterprise, these products fall short of being flexible, secure, and scalable, and have ultimately created a confused and frustrated marketplace that is still looking for a single, integrated solution.
Some of these mobile printing products include:
- Cloud-based SAAS
- Hardware with pre-loaded drivers
- Software with local network discovery but requiring software or hardware running on each subnet
- Apps with companion software
- Apps with companion hardware
According to research firm IDC, half of smartphone users don’t even know how to print from their devices. The half who do are using “solutions” with multiple pain points that make mobile printing solutions anything from an annoyance to a security risk to an administrative nightmare. First, let’s take a look at the root of the problem:
- Mobile printing options are limited, and the options that exist are needlessly complex.
- Printing technologies lock administrators into one mobile operating system, and each operating system has its own set of problems and requirements.
Hewlett-Packard’s ePrint Enterprise, for example, only works with HP-manufactured printers. Other companies provide similar solutions that, while promising for a subset of users, fail to deliver a simplified solution that links all mobile devices and printers.
While some groups, such as the nonprofit Mopria Alliance, are working toward solving some of the mobile printing problems, companies and their mobile workforce still lack a true platform-independent mobile printing solution. For example, Mopria technology is designed only for Android devices and only works with Mopria-certified printers, leaving other mobile users out of luck.
Many mobile print companies have also been touting the glory of the cloud, which does have its benefits, but is ridden with significant security risks. Many cloud-based printing services keep all data in a single public cloud, regardless of how sensitive or private it is. This is especially dangerous for government institutions and enterprises in the healthcare, education, and financial industries, which require strict data security. A hacker who gains access data stored in public clouds can potentially access every document your company has printed. And if a cloud-based provider has a breach, changes its policies, or goes out of business, its clients’ media could be left unprotected.
A large number organizations prefer to maintain in-network mobile printing in order to protect their data. In an in-network setting, the administrator retains complete control and can manage media sharing, but that means missing out on the productivity gains that mobile devices offer.
What’s needed is for IT departments to set “acceptable use” policies for mobile devices. These policies are complicated because it’s hard to limit what users can do on their own personal devices. And until now, there hasn’t been a solution that allows you to administer printing for iOS, OSX, Android, and Chrome OS in the exactly same way.
The bottom line is companies can’t afford a half-hearted mobile print strategy. With the right solution, these pain points can be eliminated while boosting mobile productivity. In our next blog post, we’ll walk you through what a complete mobile print solution looks like—one that is robust, intuitive, and easy to use.