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Enhancing the Printing Capability for the Mobile Worker

7 Oct, 2013 By: Bill Melo

Unless you are a modern-day Howard Hughes (after his aviator days, that is), you may have noticed the increasing use of mobile technology in our society.  Smartphones and tablets are becoming as much a part of our lives as the rotary phone was in our parent’s generation. 

Go to any coffee shop, shopping mall or college campus, and you’ll see an abundance of people pre-occupied by their mobile device, whether texting their friends or typing an email to family.  For the millions of us who rely on the devices throughout our busy days, we would quite simply be lost without them. 

With the shipment of 192 million smartphones and 88 million tablets forecast in the United States by 2016 – representing one device for more than eight out of 10 Americans – most of us will be going mobile in four year’s time1.  As with any leading technology – from Thomas Edison’s light bulb to the development of the computer processor in 1965 – it is only a matter of time before a ground-breaking innovation is leveraged for commercial use. 

Since today’s workforce is now responsible for producing more output than our parents, that time is now.  

Because of this reality, we want – and often need – to receive information at any time and place.  For many of us, a 9-to-5 day at the office is as passé as wearing a suit to the office.  It could start in the middle of the night with an idea of how to best position an upcoming product or service or perhaps when receiving inspiration while in a boat on a lake or resting on a beach after a day playing in the waves. 


IDC reports that approximately a quarter of all employees currently use a personal smartphone at the office with three quarters expected to do so in three years.  It is clearly evident the ‘bring your own device’ trend – or BYOD – is here to stay.

Though it may be completely counterintuitive to believe otherwise, this emerging mobile workforce is generating more print output.  A report published by IDC in 2012 indicates year-over-year increases in mobile printing with about half of the BYOD crowd printing from their mobile devices in 2015 while at work. 

Though completely comfortable in using the very latest in mobile technology, these same individuals are many times uncomfortable or unaware of how to print to the office printer or multifunction product (MFP) from their wireless devices.  Thirty-five percent of corporate tablet users and more than half of all smartphone owners who bring their devices to work fall into this category2.  

With the advent of low cost and even no cost software, this challenge is becoming easier to overcome.  To help on-the-go users accomplish this seemingly simple – but often cumbersome task – companies like Toshiba have created apps allowing them to do just that. 

Aside from enabling users to scan to and print from Toshiba MFPs, the company’s mobile app allows for employees, customers, clients and visitors to share and collaborate on these same files by storing them on such common cloud portals as Box.com, Dropbox and Google Drive. 

For added security, Toshiba’s and many other vendor apps include user authentication and tracking (also ideal for accounting purposes) features, which mandate a login and password to print.

Since patience is often not one of the primary attributes of mobile workers (me included), they should appreciate that the software can quickly and easily be installed as no driver is needed with many mobile print software in order to produce a copy from their smartphone or tablet.  They need only click print on their wireless devices.

As a growing percentage of the workforce access their company email on their smartphones, such mobile print apps provide these employees the flexibility to print email attachments outside of their offices to better prepare for the next meeting or conference call.

With the burgeoning use of smartphones and tablets at work these devices are becoming as much a part of the corporate enterprise landscape – with most of the same functionality – as the personal computer.    

As the shift from viewing content on a device rather than paper is clearly in place, the mode for reviewing such items as contracts, proposals and counter proposals in paper form remains the preferred method of consumption; the need to print is as viable as ever.

(1,2: According to IDC)

Bill Melo is the vice president, marketing, services and solutions for Toshiba America Business Solutions Inc. (TABS). In this capacity, Melo oversees product marketing, managed and professional services, marketing communications, training, and service support and operations. Prior to serving in his current role, Melo was director, Managed Services for TABS, where he managed the development and delivery of Toshiba’s Encompass Managed Print Services program, the industry’s leading document management and output optimization services. In developing Toshiba’s Encompass Online assessment platform, Melo leveraged his extensive experience developing Web-based applications for the document imaging industry.

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