By Louella Fernandes, Quocirca
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the workplace, driven by broader adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), has led to renewed predictions that mobility will usher in the paperless era. Yet, paper remains omnipresent in most businesses, with Quocirca’s research showing that almost 70% still depend on printing to support business processes. Whilst various industry estimates claim that mobility increase productivity by anywhere up to 40%, printing is often a forgotten part of the equation, and many today still need and want to print. Even if overall volumes may be on the decline, the opportunity to print higher quality colour documents – from a smartphone or tablet is one the printer industry has been working hard to capture.
Whether it’s a consumer need for printing boarding passes or a business need to print a complex business colour document, most mobile print solutions available today only partly address the printing needs of the user. So far, the ease of printing from mobile devices has been anything but simple – the diversity of mobile operating systems combined with the mix of printers and copiers, all with their own proprietary standards, means that mobile print adoption has been slow. Many vendors have come up with their own mobile print applications – some are simple apps, some print by sending the document to a private cloud as an email attachment which can be printed at any device and some offer direct printing to new devices only. And in many cases printer driver features may be limited to standard default settings, meaning that advanced features such as duplex or booklet printing may not be supported. There may also be a cost premium to implement mobile printing, which is in contrast to the desktop printing approach which simply requires download of a free printer driver.
This has created some confusion and complexity in the market, somewhat hindering adoption. In Quocirca’s recent study of enterprises, around 15% have adopted mobile print solutions, whilst around although 30% investigating or planning to adopt some form of mobile printing. The lack of a standardised platform for mobile printing represents a lost opportunity for printer manufacturers to capture pages as they shift from the desktop environment.
The good news is that a new standards alliances looks set to address these challenges and provide a seamless printing experience for mobile users. The Mobile Printing Alliance (Mopria) is working to create a new mobile printing standard and encourage mobile application developers to include print functionality within their applications. Each mobile operating system, such as Android, iOS and Windows Phone will need to include the Mopria subsystem – and there are already Android-based mobile devices in certification testing. The Alliance is launching with Canon, HP, Samsung and Xerox as founding members and these vendors are already working to certify their products which will carry the Mopria brand mark.
From Quocirca’s perspective, this is a welcome initiative, given the lack of standards and complexity in the market which has served to inhibit mobile printing adoption. The key to success will be ensuring legacy printers are also supported and certified to enable businesses to leverage existing investments rather than needing to purchase new hardware. Meanwhile, the growing use of mobile devices in the workplace also brings security risks, and businesses will need to ensure that any mobile printing that is implemented is secure and managed as part of any wider managed print environment.
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