On-the-move printing is thriving, says Deignan of OKI
Smart phones would not be immediately associated with printing. But mobile workers quite often need to have something printed, either their own documents or something they have received. It still happens more often with laptop users who are working on reports and presentations but the point is that your need to print something is not directly related to the device. It is quite common and very useful to have a document printed or ready to be pulled when you arrive in the office for a meeting, for example.
Research in the USA and elsewhere suggests that mobile workers often have a need or a wish to print from their devices. Most often it is either to give to someone else or to keep as a personal record but other reasons include a preference to read something properly on paper as opposed to a small screen. As mobile working of all kinds itself increases — IDC predicts that 75% of the workforce will be mobile by 2018 — it stands to reason that the need for access to printing will follow. The major inhibitor is that there is no such thing as a universal print driver for mobile devices. That is hardly surprising, considering the sheer range of operating systems, devices and vendors with semi-proprietary features.
One major initiative is the Mopria Alliance, a non-profit membership organization of leading global manufacturers of mobile devices and printers with the goal of providing simple wireless printing from smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices. But realistically any universal solution is still a long way away. Oki has a cloud-based solution which is an open platform that gives access to smart functionality for mobile devices and Output Manager for print control, which also has a Smart phone app client.
So what can the mobile user actually do? Quite a lot. Any document you have control over (not necessarily contained or displayed on your device) can be printed or sent for printer on any printer to which you have access. In fact you can control any OKI multifunction machine through the Smart phone app. Visiting a client or partner and need something printed? No problem with permission you can send directly to an enabled local printer or push through their system.
Photos are commonly used in business these days, from estate agents and property pics to accident and inspection reports from field engineers. With the Drivve suite of image capture solutions you can scan images as well as take photos, convert or send images for example to specific folders or to fill a pre-prepared template or document. A simple snap assisted by OCR can convert a printed original into electronic text for any purpose and save it in a useful format like PDF or MS Word. Any such item can easily be added to SharePoint or input directly into workflow back at base.
The key point is that working with documents and content anywhere anytime is now eminently feasible with mobile devices. The screen size will influence what users choose to do but in any event regular tasks can be set up in advance so that, for example, only the variable content need be sent from the field. All in all, that small screen smart phone with the assistance of cloud power is becoming a complete portable office resource, easily complemented by a tablet or laptop when a larger screen or sustained task is in hand.
Martin Deignan is country manager of OKI Ireland