While business is becoming increasingly digital, most SMEs still need to print documents on a regular basis. However, the cost and time burden involved in maintaining an on-premise print infrastructure can be significant.
The cloud has proven to be a game-changer. It lets SMEs take advantage of the types of applications and services that were previously only available to large businesses with enterprise-sized budgets. Cloud has opened SME up to digital transformation, bringing the many improvements and benefits previously only available to enterprise customers.
Many SMEs have already recognised the value of offloading the burden of on-premise infrastructure, adopting cloud-based services and applications in droves for productivity software such as Office 365. The same can be done for print services and office document workflows.
In fact, cloud-based print infrastructure is the next frontier for SMEs. Cloud-based print management and document capture software can address cost and efficiency issues for SMEs. It delivers significant savings in infrastructure and maintenance costs. When connected with a flexible pricing model, such as a simple per-device subscription fee, it also provides a simple and transparent cost without the cashflow hit of upfront purchases and the hassle of annual upgrades.
When SMEs deploy print management on-premise or at a private data centre, they remain responsible for the maintenance of the print infrastructure. This creates a burden in terms of cost and time. SMEs should pass that burden off to external providers and direct their in-house resources to their core business.
The ideal approach, therefore, is a multi-tenant use of a cloud-based print infrastructure provider. In a multi-tenant approach, multiple companies can share the same infrastructure, which also means they share the costs, making it more affordable. This is important for SMEs looking to carefully manage their resources.
Ease of use and security are top considerations for SMEs when evaluating cloud applications. This doesn’t preclude a cloud-first approach by any means. Yet, when you add in user experience, convenience and network availability into consideration, that’s when edge computing comes into play.
Using edge computing, SMEs can enjoy a secure print environment in which job processing is done through an on-premise lightweight appliance with no maintenance required on the business’s part. It’s managed from the cloud where only metadata for reporting purposes is stored.
This approach is also ideal when security and privacy are strong concerns because the print jobs are processed locally, so sensitive information doesn’t get uploaded to the cloud. And, because only metadata goes into the cloud, this approach works well when connectivity is unreliable or bandwidth is limited.
SMEs considering a cloud-first strategy for printing also need to consider whether their provider’s architecture is structured for scalability. This affects how easily the business can expand and add more users and locations.
It’s also essential to choose a provider that offers both the option of putting all print, scan, copy, and fax data processing in the cloud and facilitating a combined cloud and on-premise approach. This way, SMEs can choose the approach that works best for them.
It’s also useful to be able to export reporting data into business intelligence applications to get a clear picture of printer usage and costs. This lets SMEs potentially make smarter decisions about printing.
Turning to a cloud-first approach to printing can help SMEs save time and money, make printing available, yet invisible and increase efficiencies. Whether the business is planning for growth or is concerned about document security, a cloud-first approach is a smart move.
Adam O’Neill, Managing Director – Australia and New Zealand, Y Soft