While technology has allowed many offices to reduce the amount of paper they produce each year, printing is still a necessary evil in today’s workplace. But one problem today’s mobile professional has is that printouts are needed at the office, while he’s in the field. Enter cloud-based printing. This technology turns a networked printer into a printing hub for anyone who works in or visits an office. Print jobs can be sent from anywhere and users don’t need to even be on the same network to send a file to the printer.
How Does Cloud Printing Work?
Most modern printers have the ability to connect to the internet, making them immediately ready for a print job. The printer can be manually managed through the internet by an administrator, who adds users through a dashboard.
But one of the most popular cloud print options issues an e-mail address to a printer. Users send documents as attachments in e-mail to that address, at which point the print server converts the file to a paper document. Because it’s sent through e-mail, users can easily print from smartphones, tablets, or PCs whether they’re in the waiting room of a medical office 30 miles away or seated directly next to the printer.
Traditionally, printers have been required to be individually installed on every PC and laptop that uses it. If a worker was assigned a laptop for field work, that employee either had to wait until he came back to the office or invest in a portable printer that he was then required to carry everywhere.
As mobile devices have begun to eclipse desktop PCs, the concept of the office is changing. Everyone from CEOs to technicians is now able to work on the go, but printing is still limiting mobility. The ability to print from anywhere opens up those field workers to send documents to supervisors or office workers from anywhere, allowing for action to be taken immediately.
Professional-Level Print Jobs
For businesses that still deal in professional-quality print jobs like flyers, brochures, and print presentations, sending a document out to the printer has never been easier. Many professional print shops now allow documents to be uploaded to their own servers, where they are then output and delivered to the business for distribution. FedEx Office is a prime example of a printing service that offers this option. The company will even drop print jobs off to hotel rooms or conference centers if needed.
Google Cloud Print is also getting in on the service, integrating cloud print capabilities into each of its apps. The service can even be deployed on an enterprise business to make things easier for IT staff.
Cloud printing is still evolving, but the solutions are already in place for many businesses to begin using them. To learn whether your printer supports cloud printing, visit your printer manufacturer’s website and research its capabilities. Today’s printers are primarily cloud based, but printers that were purchased several years ago may not have had the technology.
Author Bio: Kirill Bensonoff is a founding partner at ComputerSupport.com, helping small business executives get the most out of their technology investment.