From the viewpoint of many CIOs and IT managers, mobile printing is a relatively small issue. While they realize that it’s becoming increasingly important, it’s often ignored because it can seem harmless.
But mobile printing from iPads, iPhones, and Android devices is rapidly becoming recognized as the mole that’s digging shadow IT tunnels through company firewalls and security plans. That’s the conclusion of a TechTarget report called Enterprise BYOD management: An IT Guide.
Shadow IT is the term businesses use to describe software that company employees download and use without oversight or review by company IT managers. In businesses of all sizes, mobile printing apps are among the most common “shadow IT” installations.
A look at the numbers quickly shows how easy it is for an unsecured mobile printing app to create a problem.
- 600+ apps in the Android and iTunes app stores support mobile printing or are designed to manage mobile device printing.
- 67% of those apps are completely unsecured, and fewer than a dozen offer any kind of encryption at all (much less on-device encryption).
Why Mobile Printing Remains a Problem
Part of the mobile printing problem is that the latest tablets and smartphones aren’t designed with printing in mind. When BlackBerry was still the only game in town, users didn’t expect as much from their mobile devices so lack of printing was easier to accept. Mobile devices were seen as complementary to laptops, not replacements – but that’s no longer the case.
“Android and iOS tablets and smartphones feel like miniature computers to users,” explains Jared Hansen, CEO and founder of Breezy. “But they were designed to be consumer devices, and what native print infrastructure is built into the operating systems doesn’t meet common enterprise needs. So while business users expect to be able to print from their tablets and smartphones in the same way they are accustomed to printing from a laptop or PC, it isn’t always as simple as it should be.”
Add in the fact that most companies have to support multiple print vendors, mobile operating systems and network configurations, and it’s no wonder that mobile printing can be a challenge for IT.
Mobile Printing Market to Hit $1B by 2015
Industry analyst IDC predicts that the mobile printing market will be worth $1 billion by 2015. As companies like Breezy continue grow and reach larger segments of the market, the problems associated with mobile printing are fading.
Unfortunately, many users are still creating their own shadow IT solutions by downloading apps that allow them to print, but do it while bypassing company security and data policies. “When employees get frustrated because it’s hard for them to print, they will do whatever it takes to get their job done,” Hansen points out. “So more and more companies are realizing that mobile printing is more of a priority than they first thought a year or so ago.”