Although there are some niche tasks where mobile employees may be carrying portable printers with them — sales and medical, for example — few mobile employees carry their own printer around with them so they can print out documents, spreadsheets, images and the like.
But they do have recurring print needs — sales proposals just before or after a customer meeting, work order receipts, presentations, meeting handouts and more.
This can often include high-quality color mockups, and it’s a rare employee who is toting around a printer that can do this, particularly for larger-format output.
True, the world is full of printers. Most of your company’s offices and other facilities will have desktop, workgroup and perhaps even larger, high-volume multi-function printers (MFPs) for print, copy and scanning.
Similarly, there are likely to be printers or MFPs nearby, or en route to an employee’s destination. There are printers in most hotel and convention center lobbies or business rooms and in nearby print/copy shops.
But that doesn’t automatically mean a given employee’s mobile device can print to a given printer.
Print requests come from a range of sources, including email, Web browsing, mobile apps and Windows drivers.
Provisioning each employee’s mobile devices to handle the various eventualities can be time-consuming for IT, and still doesn’t guarantee that employees will have the printing app, drivers, and accounts for the printer at hand.
Similarly, there are many cloud-based file service apps that allow file access, sharing and sending, such as DropBox, Google Drive, and DocumentMall. But again, that’s a lot of choices to for IT to have to provision each employee and mobile device with.
And mobile printing
isn’t just about printing. Employees may need to scan documents, and/or do OCR (Optical Character Recognition) of scanned documents. They may need to fax these documents, or collaborate with coworkers by delivering and sharing these documents with other employees, customers and suppliers.
And like all the other data in your enterprise, these documents need to be managed and handled appropriately. This means strong security measures are necessary: restricting access to authorized users through print IDs, and preventing unauthorized users from accessing documents via encryption. (Remember that today’s printers are basically computers, including hard drive or flash storage where the files that were printed often are saved, or not erased securely.) Similarly, some documents’ activities require audit trails — who accessed them, who directed them to which printers, and who retrieved the output.