How to Modernize Your Printer Fleet to Meet Hybrid Working Needs
The way we view work + the office is going through a collective transformation—accelerated, of course, by the pandemic. And while we’re no longer strictly homebound, the future is anything but straightforward. There’s a growing understanding by companies and leadership that a hybrid work environment is one that looks different even for different people within the same company. Instead, modern workspace design looks like a work environment that supports your people wherever and however they’re able to do their best work.
The roots of this transformation can be traced back to the 2000s, when mobile technology like laptops and phones enabled workers to move with more freedom and flexibility. Digital technology and tools enabled us to collaborate more effectively and be resilient throughout the pandemic’s shift to remote work. And while throughout these changes, print was not a strategic priority for most businesses, it doesn’t mean we’ve abandoned print.
The role of print in your business endures for several reasons. Print provides hard-copy documentation that may be necessary for compliance or formal business agreements. Printing also encourages deeper analyses by giving teams the ability to easily read, mark-up and share physical documents. The fact is the printed page provides longevity and an emotional connection that cannot be replaced by a screen—the same reasons why printed books are still preferred to e-books across the globe.
Printed materials can spark conversations through sharing and are a helpful platform to inspire creativity through brainstorming. In the US alone, 48% of remote workers own a home printer and are using it for work. Within this group, 42% said it was because work required it, while 38% shared that they found it easier to take notes on printouts.
Going forward, print and digital will be complimentary by design—meaning print transformation should be considered alongside your digital transformation. So, as organizations of all kinds are figuring out their modern workspaces, they’re now taking a closer look at their aging and outsized printer fleet and asking us: what does the new technology roadmap for print look like?
Figuring Out the New, Post-Covid Technology Roadmap for Print
For many businesses, they addressed their biggest IT priorities during the pandemic and now that they’re returning to evaluating their offices, they’re finding that their printer fleets are too large, with old, outdated tech. For some, these devices were ignored or unused during the pandemic and are having service issues or they’re simply not working. For others, they’re trying to downsize their office space and with it, downsize the number of printers they own that are also occupying a great deal of space.
Just like determining a hybrid work strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to modern print. At Compugen, we look at print through the lens of IT. We believe the conversation should start with, how are you using print? What are your pain points? How can we address those and how can we help you print less?
For example, we recently worked with a school board whose populations speak a multitude of different languages. During the pandemic, when a student or teacher would report sick with COVID, they would send students home with a printed notification letter. This letter would be written in English, with a note in 20+ languages requesting the students’ caregiver take it to a neighbor who spoke English so they could help them translate.
Compugen sought out a software translation solution that we’re now providing to school boards: the schools can now log into a web-based portal where they can upload their letters and it will translate them into an email they can then send out in more than 200 languages.
And when we helped Montreal-based law firm De Grandpré Chait modernize their printer fleet, part of the solution included ensuring their new devices offered optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities, a feature that automates data extraction from a scanned document and converts into editable and searchable text. This helped them automate document processing, reduce manual data input, accelerate their work, and improve accuracy.
This is how we look at modern print. While print is necessary in some cases and preferable in others, there are many opportunities to design a far more efficient, simple, and elegant solution that incorporates digitization and automation. It’s about considering the entire ecosystem and evaluating the best tool for the job.
Determining your technology roadmap for print moving forward means evaluating your current environment and how you're currently printing, then seeking out innovative ways to digitize, print less, print more efficiently, and more securely—while providing full support for all your employees. This also, crucially, often translates into reduced printing costs.
Digitizing to Support Remote Workers
Increasing automation and digitization also further supports remote employees. And while much of what was previously accomplished by print was brought online during Covid, the process of designing a hybrid work environment moving forward means formally evaluating how best you can modernize print infrastructure to drive transformation and improve collaboration, productivity, and business outcomes.
For example, you can start by identifying your core print users, regardless of location, along with tasks where print remains necessary. How can you account for processes that are still print dependent, and ensure remote workers are supported to carry these out? Is there an opportunity to digitize these in any way?
No matter where your employees are working, you need to deliver a seamless printing and scanning experience. It’s important to make it as simple as possible for employees to set up their office printers in any location, receive supplies replenishment, and print on the go. Anything less could hinder productivity and collaboration. Your print environment needs to be cloud-ready to move with other technologies. It also means that IT teams must be able to manage your organization’s printers from a central platform for visibility and support.
This typically means implementing cloud-based software to remotely monitor and manage your entire printer fleet, from in-office or school to at-home. This type of solution enables:
Data collection from print devices
Consumables levels monitoring and notifications of low levels
API data integration with systems like CRMs, external databases, and service and ticketing systems
And remote monitoring of your broader print fleet, regardless of brand or model
Addressing Critical Print Security, From In-Office to At Home
We’re living in the ultimate age of connectivity—which of course is delivering tremendous benefits, from powering our new hybrid work to democratizing knowledge and learning. But it also means we’re living in the ultimate age of vulnerability. And when it comes to network security, printers are sneakily one of the most vulnerable endpoints.
When a printer is hacked, it can open doors into the network—regardless of whether it’s at a school, an office, or in an employee’s home—and that leaves you and your entire organization vulnerable. Especially as, in the wake of the pandemic and global recession threat, hacking increased 600%. As Fortinet reports, cybercrime is one of—if not the most—profitable illegal industries in the world.
With printers, there are a few key security issues to consider:
Aging print hardware: As we mentioned, many businesses are returning to offices filled with aging print devices. If a printer has gone beyond its 10-year end-of-life, there is no more firmware to be updated, leaving it critically vulnerable.
IT bandwidth: With all the other changes and priorities that come with supporting a digital organization, overburdened IT teams often simply don’t have the bandwidth to update firmware even on newer print hardware. Printers, often overlooked in security assessments, have more than 260 open ports and can be targeted by cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.
Lack of oversight and compliance issues with at-home printers: Many organizations must adhere to strict data protection regulations, or other types of regulations that restrict what type of information can be printed outside the office. Yet in the UK, for example, 66% of remote workers reported printing work documents at home that potentially put them in breach of critical EU regulations.
An integral part of the new roadmap for print includes recognizing the importance of print security within a layered cybersecurity strategy. Secure printing, data encryption, and user authentication are now essential features.
With Compugen and HP as your allies, you'll get professional services, hardware, software, and supplies, all designed to help you reduce costs and increase productivity. We earn your trust through listening, building, and supporting your technology journey. This means we start with simply asking, where can we help—and we keep an agnostic, open mind to what that looks like. And we’ll put our full fleet of technical capabilities and services to work for you. With a dedicated account manager, 450+ technicians, all certified to service HP plus a total of 15,000 technical certifications, 37 Compugen Service locations and 77 Service Sub-contractors coast-to-coast, we are where you are: 93% of the Canadian population is within a 1-hour drive of a Compugen Service Delivery Point.
If you are finding yourself in a situation where your organization now has too many printers—and too many aging printers that are now a productivity detractor and a security risk—there's never been a better opportunity to rationalize and reduce your fleet, while redesigning your entire print ecosystem to support your new hybrid environment.
To learn more about how to modernize your print infrastructure and what the new technology roadmap looks like in our post-Covid world, download our Modern Print for the Remote Workforce Guide: Best Practices in Print Services for Your Hybrid Employees to discover what’s possible.