Optimize Your IT Environment to Prepare For New Opportunities and Threats

by Michael Howard, HP

A company’s IT environment is an often-overlooked gold mine for increasing productivity and enhancing workflow.  An effective IT environment offers the foundational organization every business needs, from document management to data information sorting and storage. And underutilizing it isn’t just ineffective – it’s costly. An enterprise employing 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $48,000 per week, or nearly $2.5 million per year, due to an inability to locate and retrieve information.

Today, companies seek technology that does more than “just work.” They are looking for hardware and software solutions that will help streamline the document management process and reduce unnecessary spending. Having evolved from solo printers in a room to a complex infrastructure of business information, mobile technology and cloud solutions that connect an entire workforce, the IT environment has become the foundation for a well-oiled business.

As companies look for new ways to connect with customers and build revenue, there are several IT trends that will shape the business landscape in 2015:

1. Mobility

The rise of mobility across the consumer and corporate landscape provides a tremendous opportunity for organizations of all sizes to change the way they do business. This growing trend, when coupled with the proliferation of cloud technologies, allow today’s employees to teeter harmoniously between efficiency and work/life balance. The result is a more nimble workforce where employees can access, update and share information in real-time via smartphones and tablets.

According to IDC (Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2011-2015 Forecast (Doc #232073), December 2011), 37 percent of the worldwide workforce will be mobile by 2015. This is an opportunity to embrace mobility and re-engage with your evolving workforce by ensuring that the devices sending data in and out of your company’s network are secure. Consider implementing a mobility security strategy that is inclusive of all company-issued and personal devices that access the company’s network.

Additionally, mobile devices can be used as a simpler alternative to usernames and passwords. End users can utilize near-field communications (NFC) touch-to-authenticate capabilities to bypass a multi-step printer login process. By simply touching an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet directly to the printer, the user’s credentials are verified and the print job is released. This increases your organization’s security and reduces costs from unclaimed print jobs.

2. Security

Today’s hackers are getting smarter, and now they’re using unexpected channels to access confidential data. This new approach to data theft has negative – and expensive – consequences for business. In fact, data breaches cost companies an average of $136 per record compromised and $5.4 million overall in the U.S. when you factor in regulatory fines, reputation damage and the cost of closing the security gap.

In response to the recent rise in corporate information theft, CIOs and IT managers have now been tasked with two primary objectives: identify potential security threats and find smarter ways to secure data. Printers and MFPs can provide an unexpected access point to confidential data. By leaving your print environment unsecured you are increasing the likelihood that your business may fall prey to a data breach. Did you know that the most common printing security breach is leaving the actual printed document in the output tray? By implementing secured mobile printing strategies and pull print software solutions, you can help prevent electronic and paper data from getting into the wrong hands.

3. Green Tech

Corporate social responsibility has become more than just a buzzword. Studies show that becoming eco-friendly is not only good for the environment, it’s also good for a company’s bottom line. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 48 percent of global CEOs plan to increase their focus on reducing environmental impacts. From cutting costs by reducing energy waste to investing in local sustainability programs, it’s become easier for businesses to see the ROI in environmental sustainability efforts.

Tech companies are now designing products that meet the demands of businesses for more energy efficient technologies that will help employees work faster and smarter without increasing the company’s footprint. For example, the HP Officejet Enterprise X Series cuts business printing costs in half and reduces energy usage overall, at up to twice the speed of laser printers. Now consider how much paper, toner and ink is used on a given day. Just think how much money your company would save by utilizing duplex printing on recycled paper with original toner packaged in a recycled cartridge. Talk about stretching your dollar. Companies like HP encourage customers to recycle their printing supplies, keeping cartridges out of landfills and helping reduce waste across the globe.

4. Clouds, Clouds Everywhere

A recent study by IDG found that 69 percent of enterprises have either applications or infrastructure running in the cloud today, up 12 percent from 2012. Fast forward to 2013 and that number increased to 43 percent. This increase could be due to a number of factors, including the proliferation of data on consumer and commercial technologies, the shift from paper to electronic medical records for healthcare providers and the rise of the Internet of Things.

As businesses continue to seek solutions that are agile, responsive and mobile, older software solutions that are rigid and difficult to upgrade will become obsolete. The use of cloud technology will see continued growth across organizations of all sizes as it gives enterprises the nimbleness of small business, and empowers small businesses with enterprise-level capabilities. And, with the explosion of BYOD, cloud technology will be essential for maintaining security across devices.

You may have noticed that some of the printers in your office are multifunction printers (MFPs) that allow you to print, copy and scan paper documents. One feature that you may have overlooked on your MFP is the scan-to-cloud feature, which allows you to scan hard copy documents and send them directly to your cloud service software. Newer enterprise-class MFPs are making the cloud even more accessible with secure pull print capabilities. Now users can select documents from the cloud and send them to the printer from the device’s control panel.

All of these trends point to one thing – a sweeping acceptance and embracing of technology. Technology is becoming less of an integrated add-on and more a way of life and fundamental business practice. Make the most of it; benefit from the “IT advantage” for a prosperous year!

Michael Howard is the Worldwide Security Practice Lead for Managed Services for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group. He is currently responsible for evolving the strategy for security solutions and services and educates customers on the importance of security policies and procedures for imaging and printing.


This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of The Imaging Channel.