In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, workplaces are constantly searching for ways to optimize their operations, reduce costs, and improve productivity. One area that often gets overlooked is the office’s reliance on print, an essential process that’s ripe for modernization.
The modern office is primed for the next significant change in how print is acquired, defined, and delivered to employees. Let’s explore the three key factors driving the transformation of print in the digital age, and the occasional prediction (ok, speculation. Ok, wishful thinking):
- IT modernization and cloud migration
- the transition to flexible work policies
- print security
1. IT modernization and cloud migration
IT modernization and cloud migration have reshaped the way businesses operate, allowing for greater agility and efficiency. Print, however, has remained relatively stagnant in the face of these advancements.
That’s about to change.
Redefining print infrastructure
Software vendors are redefining how print services are managed and delivered. Traditional, on-premises print servers are gradually being replaced with cloud-based print solutions. This shift not only reduces the burden on IT departments but also enables organizations to scale their print infrastructure more easily.
Cloud-based print services offer several advantages, such as automatic updates, improved management, and better integration with other cloud-based systems. This flexibility allows employees to print from any device, whether they’re in the office or working remotely. It’s a step forward in streamlining print-related processes and making print more accessible and convenient.
And while we probably won’t have a printer following us everywhere we go anytime soon, the cloud certainly makes printing more mobile and convenient than ever before.
Another critical aspect of IT modernization is cost reduction. The transition to cloud-based print services can significantly reduce expenses associated with print infrastructure maintenance. The elimination of on-premises servers, reduced energy consumption, and more efficient printer usage can lead to substantial savings.
That’s right, the last print server clinging desperately to your server rack can be released to the universe.
Enhanced user experience
Modernizing print through the cloud also enhances the user experience. Employees can print documents from their mobile devices with ease, without needing to be physically present in the office. This is a significant benefit in a world where flexible work policies and remote work are becoming increasingly common.
2. Transition to flexible work policies (Hybrid Work)
The workplace has undergone a significant transformation over the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work, and many organizations are now adopting permanent hybrid work policies that allow employees to work both in the office and remotely. This shift in work dynamics has a profound impact on print.
And while the final hybrid solution is yet to make itself known (two days in, three at home? Four-day work week? Fully remote? Local work hubs?), commerce rolls on and solutions for printing must adapt.
Anytime, anywhere printing
In a hybrid work environment, employees need the flexibility to print documents from different locations, including home, coffee shops, or co-working spaces. The modernization of print ensures that employees can print seamlessly regardless of their physical location. This means that the connection between employees and the office’s print infrastructure is no longer constrained by physical proximity.
Frictionless printing is the end game, ensuring employees can automatically sign into their print network, for example. The future must surely be a world where system administrators and frontline support staff get no – repeat NO – print-related tickets.
Reduced office footprint
As employees spend less time in the office, businesses can reduce the size of their physical office space and associated costs (sorry landlords). This also implies that the physical print infrastructure can be downsized, leading to further cost savings. With a cloud-based print solution, businesses can reallocate these resources to other strategic areas of the organization.
3. Print Security
Print security is a critical factor driving the transformation of print in the digital age. The print IT stack will be tested by ‘bad actors’ in the years ahead, and organizations need to ensure that their print infrastructure is secure.
Modern print solutions offer advanced data encryption options to protect sensitive information as it travels from the device to the printer. This ensures that even if a document is intercepted, its content remains secure.
However, today’s encryption will be as effective as “Password123” with the likes of quantum computing on the horizon. The aforementioned “bad actors” will leverage quantum computers to tear through today’s encryption defences. Instead, we’ll need to look to technologies such as homomorphic encryption to keep our print data safe.
Zero trust security and user authentication
As we’ve touched on before on this blog , the zero-trust security model assumes that no device or connection is trusted by default. It’s a technology approach that must be applied in every modern workplace as a matter of course, but isn’t.
Print security also includes user authentication measures to prevent unauthorized access to print devices. Features like PIN codes, smart card authentication, and biometrics ensure that only authorized personnel can print, copy, or scan documents.
And just like many apps on our phone require it today, two-factor authentication will be the norm for printing in the future. Making it a frictionless experience will be the software and/or hardware vendor’s challenge.
Remote monitoring and management
Cloud-based print solutions allow IT departments to monitor and manage the print infrastructure remotely. This not only improves efficiency but also ensures that security measures are consistently enforced and updated.
We should all be excited about printing’s future, if only because of the advancements likely coming in remote monitoring and management technology. Seriously, what sysadmin doesn’t want every printing error managed remotely?
The modernization of print is an essential step for organizations aiming to stay competitive and efficient in today’s digital age. The convergence of IT modernization, flexible work policies, and print security is driving this transformation. By embracing cloud-based print solutions, businesses can reduce costs, improve user experience, and enhance print security.
As the business world continues to evolve, those who recognize the importance of modernizing their print infrastructure will undoubtedly be better positioned for success. The time is ripe for a new era of printing, one that is seamlessly integrated into the digital workplace, adaptable to the needs of remote and in-office employees, and fortified with robust security measures. It’s not just a change in the way we print; it’s a change in the way we work.