The modern workplace has a somewhat contradictory relationship with print. As more companies embrace workflow technology that enables them to streamline paper-intensive business processes, and as their employees become increasingly reliant on mobile technologies to perform job functions outside the confines of their offices, it would seem that workplaces are moving in the direction of becoming completely paperless. And yet, when a survey commissioned by Canon U.S.A. and conducted by Harris Poll earlier this year asked US professionals, namely IT decision makers and non-IT executives, whether they anticipate there will still be a need for paper-based workflows in their organizations for at least the next decade, 82% said that they strongly or somewhat agree with that statement.

This survey, which examined how document management workflows impact day-to-day operations of businesses nationwide, revealed that while IT and non-IT professionals alike recognize the value of cloud, mobile and digital workflow technologies, companies still need to consider the importance of printing when developing workflow strategies. Although 62% of all professionals surveyed said they felt very or extremely confident in their organization’s ability to effectively integrate paper and document workflows, there was a significant disparity between the confidence level of IT and non-IT professionals.
82% of IT decision makers reported feeling very or extremely confident, compared to just 56% of non-IT executives.
"In 2013, 57% of the professionals surveyed by Forrester said they would be willing to purchase a smartphone that would allow them to better perform their jobs"

As the emergence of bring your own device (BYOD), and the proliferation of mobile devices and platforms, becomes the “new normal,” the integration of paper-based workflows are further complicated. According to Canon’s survey, roughly two-thirds of companies (62% of respondents) currently provide technology support for personal devices. This survey also indicates that employees use their personal mobile devices to access, process and share documents in a variety of ways, including
through company email (70%), enterprise servers (59%) and the cloud (54%).

Today, employees can use mobile devices to perform a breadth of job functions that were inconceivable just five years ago. That said, one function that has lagged behind is printing. Just a little more than half (53%) of Canon’s survey respondents said that their companies currently offer mobile printing capabilities. The other half of respondents, when asked about the top obstacles toward adoption, cited security concerns (42%), insufficient return on investment (18%), lack of support from technology infrastructure (17%) and insufficient IT staff to provide technology support (15%).

For companies that have not yet implemented a comprehensive BYOD program–including those that do not support mobile print–it’s not too late. As mobile technology becomes both more advanced and easier to use, employees increasingly expect to be able to transition seamlessly from working from a PC to working from a smartphone or tablet. Additional research written by Forrester’s David Johnson and Christopher Voce quantifies the increasing prevalence of the mobile workforce. In 2010, 11% of professionals worked in public places a few times per month or more; by 2012,
that percentage had jumped to 23%. Johnson saw similar increases in the percentage of professionals who work from home at least a few times per month (from 29% in 2010 to 39% in 2012) and while commuting or traveling (21% in 2010 to 27% in 2012).
MORE: How Will Mobile Printing Impact the Future of Paper in the Office?

Delaying a full deployment of BYOD may also put companies in jeopardy of alienating workers, thereby, running the risk of losing their top talent. Much of Johnson’s research focuses on how technology freedom impacts individual performance, working in direct collaboration with university psychologists and neuroscientists who study motivation and productivity in the workplace. He has found that the most motivated, career-focused people in an organization are the most likely to invest in technologies to help them excel at work, and that they are more willing year-over-year to contribute their own money towards the PCs, smartphones and tablets of their choice. For example, in 2010, 44% of the professionals surveyed by Forrester said they would be willing to purchase a smartphone that would allow them to better perform their jobs;
in 2013, 57% of professionals said the same

Even as companies become increasingly digital, they cannot underestimate the continued importance of print. Employees are at their most productive and engaged when they feel they have access to tools that support their work. For many companies, that means a BYOD program that includes mobile print capabilities is a must for creating a flexible work environment to attract and retain top talent. Because employees want to feel that they have a level of autonomy over the devices and apps they use at work, installing software to safeguard information or creating an app store of company-sanctioned programs can be effective ways of monitoring from an acceptable distance the way in which employees work from smartphones and tablets. In order to remain competitive, companies must move as closely as possible toward allowing their employees to have full functionality from any device, inside or outside of the office.


Dennis Amorosano is the vice president of marketing and professional services of the Business Imaging Solutions Group at Canon U.S.A. For more information on Canon's "Workflow Optimization Study," visit For more information on Forrester's "Habitat For Engagement: Unleash Workforce Potential With Agile Enablement" report, visit

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