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Modernizing your print infrastructure

Why cloud printing and print management is the future of business – and it’s here now

Cloud printing has evolved. It had to. The sudden and dramatic shift to a larger remote workforce and hybrid working practices we have now accelerated a trend that some were unsure would ever really manifest.

But it’s here.

And with it comes employees’ need to access information and perform traditional business functions from a variety of locations, especially the home office.

While information and data security between the home laptop, PC or Mac, and organization’s network get a lot of attention, many businesses have come to see that device and printer management for remote and hybrid workforces needs immediate attention.

The best print management solutions for organizations today

“Really, are we still talking about printers and printing?” you might ask.

Well, yes. As more employees return to the office, printer and print management will be a vital consideration for every organization. Consider…

The IDC “Worldwide and U.S. Managed Print and Document Services and Basic Print Services Forecast Update, 2022-2026” projects flat to declining growth through 2026.¹ While there’s potential for some decline, it’s not guaranteed. We may be living in digital workplaces but, despite some declines in print volume, printing continues.

Here are a few more trends and predictions to consider:

  • Color outputs continue to increase.²

  • Legal and healthcare continue to show high printed page volumes.²

  • Printing increases have been seen for emails, content from the web, accounting/finance, marketing, and sales materials.³

  • Label printing is expected to grow to $752.6 million globally between 2023-2033.⁴

The simple reality facing organizations today is that while some employees may print much less, the need to print – and to manage printers and printing devices – remains.

And in a world where team members may be working across geographies rather than behind the firewall of office networks, a solution is desperately needed to alleviate the strain on IT resources, meet data security best practices, and keep everyone productive wherever they are working, not to mention simplify cost management and ideally reduce costs.

So, what are organizations doing?

IDC notes that nearly 70% of enterprises have embraced managed print services¹ while Quorcirca reports⁵:

  • 43% have implemented a cloud print management platform.

  • 37% plan to do so in the next couple of years.

  • 40% say moving to a cloud print management platform was a top benefit of MPS adoption.

For efficiency, security, and simplicity of management, many organizations find that a cloud print infrastructure is the best solution.

Benefits of cloud printing and a cloud print infrastructure

In the article “Benefits of moving to a cloud print infrastructure,” we explored the benefits of cloud printing and a cloud print infrastructure. In summary, they were:

  • Anywhere accessibility

  • Increased team member productivity

  • Greater business agility

  • Reduced operational costs

  • Access to insight-loaded data

  • Helps to meet sustainability goals

For the full details of each of these business benefits, we invite you to check out the article above. Here, we want to look more closely at the way moving print infrastructure to the cloud benefits IT, employee experience and customer experience and why moving printing to a cloud infrastructure is essential to remain competitive both today and in the future.

The benefits of cloud print infrastructure for IT

Onsite print infrastructure management and support is resource intensive. IT professionals and others involved in the administration and management of onsite printing environments know the devices are much more plug-in-play than they used to be, but there are a lot of components that still need attention.

The typical print infrastructure features these five parts:

  • Print servers

  • Print drivers

  • The network, wireless and ethernet

  • User devices (PCs, laptops, mobile) that need to connect to the printers

  • The printers themselves

Print servers require hardware and software, including standard support and maintenance. Print drivers, the application that converts the data into a language the printer can understand, need management and maintenance. And many printers today pose a bigger challenge than ever before – they’re not even in the office; they’re in the home office.

Moving print infrastructure to the cloud eliminates onsite print servers and the need to maintain print drivers. The company hosting the cloud print infrastructure takes on these responsibilities. It also simplifies printer installation through secured processes that enable the employees themselves to setup a printer, no matter where they are working.

Eliminating print management tasks from IT frees up time and cuts business costs.

Cloud printing and employees

A cloud print infrastructure improves the employee experience in much the same way that it simplifies life for IT. Employees can add a printer and print from their PCs to their designated company printers with nothing more than an internet connection. There’s no getting the correct print driver, needing IT involvement, nor waiting to get into the office to print.

Cloud print enables employees to connect and print as needed while allowing the organization to keep their network and information secured.

Of course, there is the question about information security? After all, wouldn’t this allow employees to print to a device at an office, leaving the paper laying in the paper tray for anyone to grab?

An organization can prevent documents from lying around by implementing secure print policies that require a user to authenticate at a device in order to release the print job.

Cloud print infrastructure enhances employee experience and productivity.

Elevating the customer experience

Customers rarely have direct interaction with an organization’s printers. The indirect relationship, however, shouldn’t be overlooked. Employees’ ability to print can have a significant impact on customer service and how customers perceive an organization.

The impact is likely different for each organization, yet looking at how print-related challenges impact the customer experience deserves some consideration. In our experience, cloud print infrastructure relieves many of these issues.

Reliable print infrastructure supports employee responsiveness to customer requests, inquiries, and needs.

5 reasons why organizations must embrace a cloud print infrastructure

We’ve looked at many of the benefits of a cloud print infrastructure. The reality today is that these benefits are – or are quickly becoming – necessary to stay competitive in the marketplace. Inefficiencies are costly too, and resources and personnel are limited.

Market leaders have identified five areas driving the biggest need.

Security

Cloud platforms, by necessity, feature extensive cybersecurity protocols and policies to ensure their clients’ data remains secured. And these get updated regularly with the latest updates, technologies and best practices.

Customers who work with these cloud infrastructures also enjoy these protections – without having to do the work themselves. It’s all part of the package.

Appropriate security practices also play an important role in information governance best practices where organizations can track and audit access to their data and information through every transmission.

Cybersecurity and information governance efforts help keep customer and partner data safe, bringing peace of mind to business and IT managers tasked with ensuring maximum data protection.

Work from home

The shift to work from home part of the time or full-time creates unique challenges for traditional network print infrastructures. Managing and securing printer connections for work from home team members also taxes IT resources.

A cloud print infrastructure relieves the IT effort, improves accessibility to the end-user, and in many cases creates self-service printing. In short, the end-user can find and connect to a printer, and even troubleshoot, without engaging any technical resources.

With more work from home and hybrid work environments, self-service infrastructures continue to grow in popularity as they support end-user productivity and allow IT to focus on strategic initiatives.

Cloud migration trends

Organizations are relying more and more on applications that live in the cloud. Why?

  • Greater business agility, employees can connect and access the tools they need regardless of where they are working.

  • Fewer infrastructure needs like servers, software licensing, maintenance, which helps the bottom-line.

  • Meets data security needs, reduces the burden on IT resources, and increases functionality.

Quite simply, cloud applications empower organizations to focus on the customer. And that focus gives those companies a competitive edge.

Yet, even organizations that do not face competition per se, such as municipalities and schools, are moving to cloud infrastructures.

Cloud migration trends improve customer service and also enable organizations to do more with limited resources.

Analytics

Data is another big part of the move to the cloud. Most cloud applications feature reporting tools. Regarding print, analytics data includes usage reporting and tracking for auditing, compliance reporting, and cost analysis. Usage trends also help decision-makers make informed and strategic device acquisitions as needs arise and business conditions change.

Analytics data for print helps to better manage costs and find opportunities to reduce costs.

Analytics data for print helps to better manage and find opportunities to reduce costs.

Sustainability objectives

ESG and SDG objectives play a big role in many decisions, both for organizations themselves as well as for companies looking to find a partner.

Data gathered from cloud applications helps to control and even reduce print output, which has an impact on carbon footprint through controlled and reduced supplies distribution, paper usage, and more. Cloud infrastructure also reduces overall power consumption.

Cloud infrastructure also improves business continuity preparedness, ensuring that an organization can continue to operate should office access be restricted, for whatever reason. There's also greater control over print costs, further strengthening business cost management and improving financial sustainability.

Sustainability benefits of cloud print infrastructures go further than simply environmental impact.

Is now the time to move to a cloud print infrastructure?

The barriers of cloud print infrastructures have been significantly reduced and even eliminated, meaning it’s never been easier to make the change. For example, RICOH CloudStream continues to simplify printing and print management for organizations.

If print management remains a challenge or if moving to cloud print is something you’ve been considering, now is the time.

See how RICOH CloudStream can work for you

Have questions? Speak with a representative for details.

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