By Dave Crist, sr. VP of sales and mktg., Brother Mobile Solutions, www.brothermobilesolutions.com
If you’re evaluating Android or iOS devices, there are important issues regarding mobile printing you should consider.
The debate between rugged and consumergrade computers has been playing out this year in the field mobility market with high intensity. Experts have weighed in on the ROI, security, durability, reliability, and TCO (total cost of ownership) of legacy Windows rugged devices in side-by-side comparisons with their Apple and Android counterparts. In an effort to help purchasing and IT executives navigate the landscape in this new era of mobility options, mobile device manufacturers and analysts have provided guidance based on their expertise in particular verticals. While the debate has been focused primarily at the computer level, the mobile printing industry must respond to the same challenges. So what about mobile printing?
The OS Debate Is Over
Regardless of how much rugged device and peripherals
manufacturers debate the issue, enterprises are
moving toward individual or associate empowerment,
and BYOD (bring your own device) is gaining steam.
iOS and Android mobile devices are being deployed
in field environments, period, and mobile printer
manufacturers must support the trend.
But the days of depending solely on Microsoft to
anticipate customer needs and resolve the printer
driver/compatibility issues have gone — and mobile
printing can no longer afford to be tied to one
operating system. A new generation of mobile printers
with Android, iOS, and new Windows compatibility
features are coming online now, and great apps to
support end user needs are being built.
The Importance Of Next-Gen
Mobile Printing Support
Those of us on the front lines know that providing
smooth, seamless, next-gen mobile printer integration
requires a greater degree of collaboration than legacy
Windows systems because — and a lot of folks may
not even realize this — printer drivers don't come
standard with the new Android and iOS operating
systems. But we do see an increasing number
of integrators and VARs in the mobile printing
industry stepping up to fill the knowledge gap with
great app development and a more consultative
project approach. If you're an IT manager in charge
of an iOS or Android deployment for your field
organization, be prepared to discuss desired print
outcomes and engage with the integration team
more deeply to avoid the hard knocks inherent in
any new technology deployment.
While we're still observing the debate as to what
degree consumer-grade devices will be integrated
into field workforces, we know they are already
finding their way into not just Tier 1 organizations,
but SMB and even small regional workforces. As
companies continue to expand on the technologies
they choose to deploy, the mobile printing industry
must keep up. There's no longer room to maintain
a traditionalist view of mobility — companies have
demanded we expand that view to include the new
Those of us in the mobile
printing industry must strike
a challenging balance between
focus and nimbleness in this
rapidly changing environment.
The OS evolution has put us
in a very different position.
Enterprise decision makers are
continuously assessing their
options and trying very hard to
make well-informed decisions
amid all of this change. Device
and peripherals players are
already adopting a more
consultative role in support of the enterprise device
decisions — and operations, purchasing, and IT
execs should leverage manufacturers' experience
to provide the mobile worker the best application
Today's market requires that we approach mobile
printing solutions differently. Because we're in
the business of uncovering new applications and
developing new products for the mobile workforce
market, manufacturers are a unique and underutilized
decision-making resource for enterprise execs
who find themselves in the middle of some fastmoving
and very challenging environments. The
manufacturers obviously all have their biases, but
they've also all attended the "school of hard knocks,"
able to provide meaningful insight and experience to
these increasingly tough solve-it situations.