Canon Survey Reveals How U.S. Businesses View BYOD, Mobile Printing, Cloud-Based Document Management, More

epson mobile printingCanon U.S.A. has released the results of its inaugural Workflow Optimization Study I, which uncovered trends in how document-management workflows affect day-to-day operations of U.S. businesses. Wirth Consulting also participated in a Web conference, where industry analysts discussed these trends in digital-imaging (see below).

Results from the online survey, which was conducted by Harris Poll in May 2014 among 211 professionals, unveiled significant findings about diverging opinions between IT decision-makers and non-IT executives regarding the importance of integrating cloud, mobile, and digital workflow strategies. An overwhelming majority of IT decision-makers strongly believe that these tools are very or extremely important investments for running their business more effectively, while non-IT executives are less likely to view their operational importance this strongly. And, while 82 percent of IT decision-makers surveyed are very or extremely confident in their organizations’ ability to integrate paper- and digital-document workflows, just 56 percent of non-IT executives said the same.

The following technologies elicited a diverging response from IT and non-IT professionals when asked whether investing in them is very or extremely important to running their businesses more effectively:

  • Cloud-based document technology: 79 percent of IT decision-makers versus 47 percent of executives.
  • Integrating paper-based and digital information into company databases: 77 percent of IT decision-makers versus. 55 percent of executives.
  • Printing information from the cloud: 75 percent of IT decision-makers versus. 45 percent of executives.
  • Managed print services: 71 percent of IT decision-makers versus. 46 percent of executives

“Most companies today continue to grapple with how they can effectively merge the continued strong demand for printed documents with the increasing volume of information being exchanged digitally by a modern mobile workforce,” commented Dennis Amorosano, vice president and general manager for Canon U.S.A.’s Business Imaging Solutions Group Marketing Division, Canon U.S.A. “This nationwide study found that IT decision-makers and other executives do not always see eye-to-eye on the importance of investing in cloud, document workflow and mobile technologies. In many cases, the survey results indicated a ‘knowledge gap’ between IT and non-IT professionals’ awareness of which technologies their companies are deploying, and how they’re being used.”

The survey also garnered inconsistent responses between IT decision-makers and non-IT executives regarding their companies’ Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and mobile-printing programs. For example, 57 percent of IT-decision makers and just 23 percent of non-IT executives said their companies provide support for all devices and platforms. There was a similar disparity in the percentage of IT decision-makers and non-IT executives (12 percent and 36 percent, respectively) who said their companies only support some devices and platforms. Additionally, 67 percent of IT decision-makers said their companies offer mobile printing, compared to 47 percent of non-IT executives.

Although the study found that IT decision-makers and non-IT executives disagree on many subjects, the results indicate that there are at least two things that these groups can agree on: the ongoing role of paper within their organizations, and security concerns. A total of 82 percent of all professionals strongly or somewhat agree that they anticipate there will still be a need for paper-based workflows in their organization for at least a decade. When asked about the issues related to their current document workflows that they are very or extremely concerned about, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of professionals cited security breaches, making it the top concern.

In addition to illuminating discrepancies between IT and non-IT professionals’ awareness of and attitudes toward workflow optimization, this study also reveals how these technologies – especially BYOD and mobile – are currently being used in the workplace, and the value they provide. For example, 70 percent of professionals whose companies support BYOD said employees use their personal devices to access and share documents through company email, 59 percent said employees access documents stored in the cloud, and 54 percent said employees access company databases.

The 53 percent of professionals whose companies have mobile-printing capabilities cited several benefits of the technology, many pertaining to the growing number of employees who telecommute or frequently travel for work. These benefits include:

  • Flexibility to print while employees are traveling (79 percent).
  • Ability to print wherever employees are working within their company (78 percent).
  • Ability to provide printed content to others, including team members, clients, and customers (72 percent).
  • Convenience of accessing printed content created on any device, in any location (68 percent).

Web-Cast Discussion

We recently participated a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Web-cast discussion sponsored by Canon U.S.A. with presenters from Canon U.S.A., Forrester Research, Winthrop & Weinstine, and the Mopria Alliance. The discussion involved an in-depth analysis of most of the issues covered in this survey.

To begin with, keep in mind that notebooks are mobile devices and that company-issued notebooks pose little or no threat to existing security structures or workflows. Also, note that all of the challenges of BYOD and mobile printing are posed by tablets and phones. Hence, notebooks should not be included in any discussions on the challenges of workflows, security, and mobile printing. Finally, in an unsupported BYOD atmosphere it’s impossible to coax any real work out of a phone without custom workflows (with the exception of email that will likely have to be set-up by IT) due to limitations in their design.

We believe that there are two classes of BYOD:

  1. Small business that are too cheap to supply notebooks to their workers, but pay their workers enough so that their workers can afford an iPad. This means that these businesses then have to forgo security, print management, and most existing workflows unless they make an investment to apply the necessary band-aids in order to support them. This is a short-sided and net-negative approach.
  2. Companies and enterprises that supply notebooks to their workers (and represent a large majority of IT-related revenue), can wind up with entitled workers insisting on attempting to get some work done on their iPad and bringing them into work, demanding the same level of functionality provided by their company-supplied notebook. Any attempts made by said company or enterprise to comply with these demands requires expensive and extensive modifications in order to comply with existing workflows and security. “Unreasonable demands” you say? Yes, we say that virtually all critical work cannot be done on an iPad unless accompanied by extensive custom workflows and security. We also see this approach as net negative, and it also demands a BYOD policy (Android, iPad, Blackberry; supported versions of Android or iOS; which Android vendor; tablets and/or phones; etc.), because each device from each manufacturer can demand its own custom workflows and security, and depends on the version of the mobile OS. One thing’s apparent – knuckling under to the BYOD demands of workers will keep many an IT professional busy.

Finally, nobody is considering the gorilla in the room, Microsoft. Microsoft’s highly competitive mobile products based on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will for the most part plug directly into most existing workflows and security with a minimal of support from IT. Plus, Windows 8 tablets can run any Windows-based applications from MS Office Professional+ to Adobe Creative Cloud. At the very least, one would expect this to have an impact on BYOD policies.

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