Cloud computing, software-as-a-service, the Internet of Things (IoT), cyber security and other technology advancements are dominating IT department discussions and is proof that the industry must move on from legacy systems.
As the productivity benefits of these technologies are indisputable, IT specialists are playing a much more important role in organisations’ efforts to stay at the forefront of their respective markets.
Despite the common acceptance from IT professionals that more needs to be done to increase efficiency, reduce costs and prevent data breaches from occurring, print management is one area where this impact often goes unnoticed.
Cost benefits and innovation
Print management and document capture solutions are often praised for their ability to make organisations more cost-efficient and productive, and to increase document security. While these advantages are clear, businesses should also consider how these solutions can also free up time for IT staff to work on more innovative projects.
Addressing the cost benefits – which will be high on the priority list for many businesses – consolidating hardware is important from a capital expenses point of view.
The other costs that factor into the total cost of ownership for print services are often overlooked, besides the printers themselves and the consumables. These include the cost of IT in managing print servers, distributing print drivers, servicing IT help desk tickets and managing multiple vendor contracts.
One example of an issue which takes up the time of IT staff is when employees wish to print on local printers while working in another office. In many cases, this involves workers filling out an IT help desk ticket to get access to the required printer.
A comprehensive print management solution should be able to grant employees access to any printer in the company network without IT intervention.
The benefits for IT departments are immediate: spending less time on processing help desk tickets means staff can turn their attention towards driving further innovation in IT.
Originally, managed print services were solely a cost reduction exercise but enterprises are now demanding a more innovative solution. In Quocirca’s Managed Print Services Landscape, 2016 report, respondents were most satisfied with the price of the services but a score of 4.02/5 was given to MPS’ ability to provide innovative solutions.
Another example of how the IT department can be more innovative is by implementing a print management solution which incorporates high-quality scan workflow capabilities. These empower employees to complete common scanning tasks much more quickly, by using scan workflows that have pre-defined capture settings, optical character recognition, file name protocols and automatic, secure digital workflow delivery.
Aside from cost and efficiency benefits, the recent ‘stackoverflowin’ hacking highlighted the need for increased security of printers, after the hacker sent out 150,000 print jobs in one day. The hacker printed a relatively harmless image of a robot with a personal message exposing the security flaws and showing that the print ‘had been owned’. Luckily the 18-year-old was only carrying out the attack to expose the flaws in the company’s security systems, but other companies may not be so lucky.
With the predicted growth of the Internet of Things, more enterprises will strive for the convenience and efficiency that web-connected devices will bring. The benefits are clear but enterprises need to be aware of the security risks that the IoT brings.
Just like smartphones and computers, IoT devices, such as printers, increase the target space for malicious cyber-attacks. Many staff members replicate passwords for convenience and it is human nature to pick something that is easily memorable. Therefore today, even printing devices are becoming sources of possible security breaches in organisations.
An efficient authentication process, which today is part of any modern quality print management system, is vital. Authentication ensures jobs only print when the job owner authenticates at the printer with a log in or ID badge.
Without authentication, jobs print and often sit in the print tray or can be retrieved by another. If these documents are confidential, the risks to the company can be significant. Modern printers can store a large amount of data and documentation in a queue before an employee decides to print. It is important that the whole team in an enterprise is aware of their duties in protecting the network and keeping the connection secure.
An efficient print management system will provide individual logins for printers and only allow documents associated with the authenticated user to be printed.
It is also important for every member of an enterprise to understand all the security requirements for a print fleet and, with the increase in IoT connected devices, treat printing systems with the same security respect that they do computer systems.
>See also: The future of digital manufacturing
Apart from the physical document security risk, if a hacker can access information through an internet-connected printing device, they may be able to obtain login credentials, which as they are often replicated across multiple devices, will provide hackers with access to other aspects of an enterprise.
Like any other department, IT teams are under increasing pressure to deliver value and innovation in the face of restricted budgets. Decision-makers need to factor this requirement into their thinking and consider a print management and document capture solution.
In addition to receiving cost savings, productivity, security and environmental benefits, the solution gives IT staff a great deal more time to focus on proactively improving their IT infrastructure, and finding ways to make IT provide value for the company.
By Nick Parkes, regional sales manager at Y Soft
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