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How cloud-based print management will keep fleets running in the new normal

Even before COVID-19, the whole world was talking about the importance of digital transformation, but it’s not an overnight process. Most organisations are undergoing an evolution towards digitisation, which usually involves the adoption of more cloud-based solutions with many aspiring towards an eventual serverless environments.

This year’s lockdowns provided another proof point of why enterprise cloud will be so important to our future. While lockdowns themselves are temporary measures, they shone a spotlight on the advantages of cloud in business continuity. Those who were not dependent on on-site infrastructure, and had advanced digital maturity, were able to easily adapt to a remote or distributed workforce.

It’s common for IT teams today to spend significant amounts of time managing and maintaining onsite infrastructure. Not only can this lead to inefficiencies and higher associated costs, but it meant that many organisations found it difficult to function at all without IT available on site. As many organisations contemplate a long-term transition towards distributed or hybrid working environments, it’s become crucial for businesses to reduce their reliance on onsite infrastructure. For IT, device fleets are an important consideration: How can organisations set up, manage, and monitor remote devices in an effective way? However, with more advanced cloud-based print management tools and services now available, IT teams can feel confident that they can keep their fleets running from anywhere.

Adapting to print in a hybrid world

Hybrid working is not a temporary scenario. In October, research showed that 74%[1] of directors were considering retaining or increasing the amount of remote working their organisation offered, with more than half saying they planned to reduce their long term use of office space.

As more organisations adopt hybrid and remote working approaches, they are having to invest in additional technology, including print devices, for remote and home locations. New devices mean more work for IT, having to ensure they have the correct software, drivers and security set-up. Meanwhile, with fleets no longer gathered together in a central location, a new strategy is required to ensure uptime, maintain business continuity and manage usage and associated costs:

Driverless set-up

While driver management isn’t often discussed, it’s always been a time-consuming responsibility and a headache for IT staff, even when devices and users are onsite. Hybrid working increases complexity. User requirements will vary depending on employee job function, which will have implications for driver requirement. Meanwhile, with more users wanting to connect their own devices, it’s even more important that drivers are correctly managed and deployed.

Moving towards a cloud-based, driverless environment will save IT teams valuable time when managing a distributed fleet, not only in setting up or updating devices, but also by ensuring that companies do not have to acquire more onsite infrastructure, which in turn would require management and increase costs.

Ensuring uptime with a distributed fleet

Cloud printing solutions provide centralised management, making it easier for IT teams to see, manage and maintain their device fleets. For example, traditionally, low toner levels, jams and other such issues are not immediately known to IT until they have been flagged by a user, by which time they are already impacting productivity. This issue is exacerbated by the device itself being possibly miles away from the central IT team, who cannot easily identify a solution without inspecting it; a device could therefore end up out of action for a significant period of time. With cloud-based tools, IT teams can monitor device fleets and anticipate issues such as toner replacement, reducing downtime.

Understanding usage in a new world

As we move into new working environments, central monitoring will also be essential to understanding new requirements. It’s important for businesses to understand how remote and decentralised working will impact print and scan usage. We can anticipate that remote working will push more employees to rely on digital ways of working, however functions such as HR and finance often depend on printed documents within their daily workflows. In order to meet employee needs, and anticipate and manage costs for the business, IT teams need to be able to monitor how staff use these devices in their new working environments.

Pan-fleet updates, without leaving your desk

Central management also allows IT teams to more easily manage updates. Without a fleet being located in the same room, it’s unfeasible to update each device individually. With cloud-based management software, IT can roll out new updates or features across the whole fleet, ensuring end users get access to the latest versions, without delay; this is particularly important when security is involved.

Assuring best practice security

It’s not easy to ensure that everybody follows best practice security, especially when employees are working outside of the office. Rather than leave it in the hands of individuals, cloud-based fleet management allows IT teams to instil standardised, best-practice security and retain control over confidential document workflows, even when devices are not on site. This means that devices are still protected, even though they’re outside of the company network – providing secure cloud printing and document management.

User experience consistency

Changing working environments have the potential to disrupt everyday working processes; it’s important for organisations to retain consistency where possible. By using cloud-delivered print management software, businesses can ensure that their staff encounter the same experience, no matter what device they’re using, or where it’s based. This helps keep business continuity and prevents an increase in help-desk calls as the company moves towards distributed models.

The way that we work is changing rapidly, driving forward every company’s expected digital transformation journey. While your organisation might have had moving to the cloud in its plans already, it’s going to become essential for managing print fleets across multiple environments. However, this isn’t just a necessity, it’s also an opportunity to improve your fleet management more generally, helping you boost uptime, keep your workforce secure and have a better understanding of staff’s new requirements. As we move towards a hybrid way of working, cloud-based fleet management will be crucial to effective fleet management in the new normal.

Yohann Jennepin, Global Solution Architect, Canon EMEA


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