Remote workers and office staff have had a tough time of it over the last 18 months, adjusting to the “hybrid working model”. But spare a thought for the unsung heroes that have borne the brunt of the workload that has enabled what is often called the new normal.

I am, of course, talking about the IT department. For years, they had been challenged to deliver more for less. Then along comes a pandemic, and suddenly every digital transformation initiative becomes a business imperative.

During the early days of lockdown it was all about configuring and distributing hardware, troubleshooting a wide range of user-owned devices and granting access to business-critical data and applications. The profile of support calls into the helpdesk will have changed dramatically too. “How can I print? Why is my wi-fi not working? Where are my files? Why am I always on mute?”

As organisations plan their return to the office it is likely that work will look and feel a bit different. The pandemic accelerated digital transformation for many businesses, turning what might have been a disaster into an opportunity. For many, it proved that remote working was just as effective as having everyone in the office. It confirmed that work was something we do, not somewhere we go.

With restrictions lifted, businesses are making a cautious return to the office. However, not everyone is going to return to office working. Many will continue to work from home, only coming into the office when some genuine facetime is required. We’re likely to see some businesses downsizing their office space or replacing rows of desks with flexible spaces designed to support hot-desking and collaborative workgroups.

Those emergency measures that were put in place as part of a business continuity strategy have evolved to facilitate a new way of working; one that features a greater degree of process automation, ubiquitous connectivity and secure collaboration. The digitalisation of business-critical applications has created a template for transforming other parts of the business; those that traditionally relied upon more manual processes.

Print management is a classic example. With workers looking to connect from anywhere and on any device, effectively managing print processes can become both complex and time-consuming. How do you make sure users aren’t printing more than they need? How do you make sure confidential documents aren’t left siting on a printer for anyone to see? How do you get visibility of how much you spend on printing across the business?

Workflows, data and applications continue to migrate to the cloud, and print management is no exception. Businesses are taking advantage of the access-anywhere nature of cloud apps to improve process efficiency and visibility. They are also leveraging unified print management solutions to improve their sustainability, or “green” credentials. With the ability to enforce eco-friendly policies, businesses can reduce paper wastage, toner usage and energy consumption.

The concept of the paperless office has been around since the 1970s. The fact that we haven’t got there yet is testament to the importance of print for many businesses, particularly those with strict compliance regulations or those that depend on frequent exchange of agreements. Digital transformation of accounts payable processes and the introduction of eSignature solutions may lessen our dependence on printed material in the future, but the need for effective print management remains.

About SOS

We are a leading supplier of print, document and information management solutions. Our portfolio of software and services includes transformative eSignature, Electronic Accounts Payable and  Secure Print Management solutions.

If you’d like to talk to us about the future of print management in your organisation, or any of the other topics covered in this article, contact us – info@sossystems.co.uk