Ondrej Kracijek, chief technology strategist at Y Soft, explains what small and medium-sized businesses should consider when adopting a cloud-first print strategy
While business is becoming increasingly digital, most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) still need to print documents on a regular basis. The cost and time involved in maintaining an on-premise print infrastructure can be significant, but is it really necessary or is there a more efficient way to manage digital and hardcopy information?
The Cloud has been a game-changer for SMBs that don’t have the funds or resources to maintain a sophisticated IT infrastructure managed by experienced IT professionals. It lets them make use of applications and services previously only available to large businesses with enterprise-sized budgets and benefit from the efficiencies and opportunities of digital transformation.
Many SMBs have already off-loaded the burden of on-premise infrastructure, adopting cloud-based services and applications in droves, especially for productivity software, such as Office 365 and CRM applications. The same can be done for print services and office document workflows – the next frontier for SMBs.
Cloud-based print management and document capture software can deliver significant savings in infrastructure and maintenance costs. When connected with a flexible pricing model, such as a simple per-device subscription fee, it also offers transparency, without the cashflow hit of upfront purchases and the hassle of annual upgrades and support contract renewals.
When organisations deploy print management on-premise or in a private data centre, they remain responsible for the maintenance of that print infrastructure, which has both time and cost implications. By offloading that burden to external providers, SMBs can direct their in-house resources to where they add most value.
The ideal approach is multi-tenant use of a cloud-based print infrastructure provider, in which multiple companies share the same infrastructure and costs. This makes it more affordable – an important consideration for SMBs looking to manage their resources carefully.
Ease of use and security are other factors to consider when evaluating cloud applications. This doesn’t preclude a cloud-first approach, but when you add in user experience, convenience and network availability, there is a strong case for incorporating Edge computing.
Edge computing enables SMBs to enjoy a secure print environment in which job processing is done through an on-premise lightweight appliance with no maintenance requirements on the business’s part. It is managed from the Cloud, where only metadata for reporting purposes is stored.
This approach is ideal when security and privacy are major concerns, because print jobs are processed locally so no sensitive information is uploaded to the cloud, only the metadata. It also works well when connectivity is unreliable or bandwidth limited.
In a recent survey into the cloudbased print management preferences of SMBs for YSoft’s Cloud Print Management report, 45% of UK respondents said they preferred cloud print management services used with an Edge device for processing print jobs locally on the company network.
What to look for
For this reason, SMBs considering a cloud-first strategy for printing should look for a provider that is able to offer the option of putting all print, scan, copy, and fax data processing in the Cloud or having a combined Cloud and on-prem approach.
Other considerations include:
Scalability: is the provider’s architecture structured for scalability, which will affect how easily the business can expand and add more users and locations?;
Visibility: can the SMB manage the printer fleet and monitor activity through reports and an easy-to-use online dashboard. It is also useful to be able to export reporting data into business intelligence applications to get a clear picture of printer usage and costs, which will enable SMBs to make smarter decisions about printing.
Adopting a cloud-first approach to printing can help SMBs save time and money, make printing available (yet invisible) and increase efficiencies. Whether a business is planning for growth or is concerned about document security, a cloud-first approach is a smart move.
About Y Soft
Y Soft develops intelligent Digital Transformation solutions for enterprises, SMBs and the education sector. These include the YSoft SafeQ workflow solutions platform, which enables businesses to manage, optimise and secure their print and digital workflows; complementary hardware; and 3D print solutions for schools and colleges. Sales in the Financial Year 2019 grew 13% to a record high of $47 million, driven by a 20% increase in Y Soft SafeQ customer numbers to 20,000 organisations worldwide, including 42% of Global Fortune 500 companies.