by Martin de Martini | 9/30/15

IT managers have come to realize that there is no doom and gloom around BYOD initiatives. The stats support this. Gartner estimates that by 2017, the typical organization will support more employees using their personal smartphones and tablets than enterprise-supplied devices. They’ve seen the future and it still involves a mobile device. For the organization, the selling point of BYOD is that it is more cost effective than desktops, productivity will increase and employees will be happier.

I agree on the cost argument. But has productivity really increased and are employees happier because of mobile devices? I’d say no and no. Instead, productivity gains are offset by increased IT support tickets, and I have yet to see any research listing personal mobile device usage as a factor in employee happiness.

Stop the silliness

Equating personal device usage to employee happiness is just plain silly. Employee happiness is not about being able to do their expense report via their mobile. In fact, any down time that used to be relied upon during travel is now expected to be used to do more work – fill out your expense report, submit meeting summaries into CRM systems, check email. It’s all possible 24 hours a day. So no, mobile and employee happiness do not go hand in hand. Sometimes quite the opposite.

But productivity gains by individual employees being offset by increased demands on IT is something that can be tackled. Let’s look at one area involving printing from personal mobile devices.

Mobile productivity – mobile print

With a nod toward making employees productive and “happy” (don’t get me started again) with the workplace, IT organizations are asked to enable employees to print documents from personal devices while still meeting print governance on cost reductions and document security. Although digital systems have eliminated the need for many types of print, employees still use on average more than 27 sheets of copy paper per day.  

Today, many organizations are managing secure print/copy and scan services today from the desktop. Using Gartner stats again, about 57 percent of organizations will have some kind of print management service in place by 2019 as they realize that doing so can save up to 30 percent on costs. Print management has built-in features to ensure that documents are securely printed by not releasing the print job until the employee is at the printer and authenticates himself on the printer terminal – no more stacks of confidential material sitting at the printer. This is commonly referred to as “pull-printing”. Additionally the organization can track who is printing, what is being printed (or scanned) and identify misuse through audit reports.

What about that IT burden?

So how does IT ensure documents are printed securely when an employee is printing their personal mobile devices without putting extra burden on IT? By using the same print management system they have in place today. Forward thinking print management systems have already adopted the print function of these mobile platforms. Take as an example, AirPrint technology from Apple. Within the print management system, when an employee wants to print from his iPad, iPhone or Mac, he can choose a printer in any office as usual and submit the job. When he arrives, he can authenticate himself using either his username/password, PIN or swipe his ID card. The printer recognizes him as an authorized employee and displays his print jobs; he prints what he needs and takes his documents.

Many organizations are also looking at enterprise cloud printing – where print jobs are stored in the cloud instead of a print server – and released to the printer when the employee authenticates. Using Google Cloud as an example, an organization may want to still account for what is being printed, scanned and copied by individuals or groups for cost and security purposes. In the same way, the employee simply chooses a printer and submits the print job. Only when the employee authenticates at a printer is the job released from the cloud and printed.

Smart phones and tablets are going to be with us for a long time. Despite the hype around the next big thing whether it be drones, virtual reality, or wearables, it all comes back to having access to the web via the mobile device, particularly the ubiquitous mobile phone. The next big thing may be having your lunch delivered by a drone and if it is, I bet you’ll use your mobile to take a selfie.

If your organization is on the road to supporting or mandating personal devices for company use, then consider how to make your employees as productive as possible while ensuring document security and print governance. And with less burden on IT? Now that is employee happiness.

Martin de Martini is a Senior VP at Y Soft. Y Soft helps enterprises reduce costs, improve document security and increase employee productivity with YSoft SafeQ, its enterprise print management solution.