Last year we spoke with Dennis Amorosano, Vice President & General Manager of Marketing and Professional Services, Business Imaging Solutions Group at Canon USA, about issues around the cloud and mobility. Recently, Amorosano and Canon hosted an industry round table discussion on The Evolving Workplace about the challenges that are being created by increased demand for BYOD (bring your own device) and mobile technologies in general. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with him, discussing the research that was its basis.

WTT: Dennis, as a founding partner of Mopria, the Mobile Print Alliance, I know that Canon has been very involved with mobile print and the effect of mobile technologies on the workplace in general. Tell us a little more about the recent research Canon commissioned.

DA: First of all, I wanted to recognize the panel for the Evolving Workplace roundtable. They each had great things to add to the discussion. The panel included David Johnson, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research; Craig Wilson, Director of Information and Technology from law firm Winthrop & Weinstine, whose case study was featured; and Don Purpura, the Certification Committee Chair for the Mopria Alliance. We conducted the research to determine what actual effect mobile technologies and BYOD strategies are having on the workplace, and it resulted in a great deal of very useful information. Clearly, work styles are becoming more flexible with a growing number of workers working from public places, while traveling or commuting, and, of course, from home. Many of them still see printing as a challenge, and part of this research was to uncover the barriers to mobile printing, from the perspective of IT professionals and enterprise executives. This data will help the various stakeholders – including businesses, manufacturers and software developers – better understand the current landscape and the obstacles toward more widespread adoption.

WTT: While this work hasn’t been focused specifically on the printing industry, printers are businesses that are being affected by the trends as well. What are the implications for printing firms?

DA: There are two aspects to this for printing operations. First, of course, is enabling their own employees to be more productive regardless of where they are by having the right kind of mobile applications and policies in place. Consider the production environment, as an example. Production personnel are obviously very engaged in managing production across various devices and technologies inside the environment. It would stand to reason that they would want to do at least some of those tasks not at the device or at a tethered workstation, but by using a tablet or remotely through a mobile device.

WTT: Can you provide us with some examples of this in play from the Canon portfolio?

DA: To start with, we have a great deal of mobile-enabled technology from EFI that we have rolled out under Canon branding that supports those capabilities. We also have internally developed capabilities with Canon’s PRISMAsync controller technology, PRISMA software and tools that support production management. We are extending these tools by providing a dashboard containing information you might see on the press itself that can be accessed with a tablet or smartphone. This can be used to manage a single device or multiple devices in the same way EFI’s Fiery Central, and Command Workstation in particular, do that in a Fiery workflow. At Graph Expo 2014 we will be showing PRISMA Remote, a new PRISMA-based technology that marries together the ability to manage multiple black & white and color devices in a common utility that can be used to drive production, workflow and production management via tablets.

WTT: And how about from a printing operation’s customer perspective?

DA: Customers want to communicate, and a lot of it will be around how a print service provider is structuring its web-to-print offerings, specifically that they are ensuring that their web presence is not only mobile friendly, but designed with a mobile first responsive design strategy so customers can easily access the information regardless of which device they are using. Recent research indicates that devices are increasingly Apple and Android dominated, and those platforms need to be specifically addressed. For an in-plant environment, developing to a Windows-based environment and devices might be more prevalent. Regardless of the platform, mobile first strategies in web development are important to help customers interact via a platform that is most comfortable to them, thereby making contact easier. Both PRISMA Access and EFI’s Digital Storefront front ends, for example, can be designed this way. You don’t know how customers will be accessing your information, so you need to design to be able to handle any form factor.

WTT: So that addresses production and customer-facing platforms. What about new business opportunities mobile might enable for print service providers?

DA: Yes, the bigger implication when we look at print service providers is the extent to which they are offering value-added services to clients, particularly as it relates to things like marketing campaign creation, management and reporting. If a print service provider is building a multi-channel campaign for a customer, part of that campaign, by definition, is going to be electronic. It is in the print service provider’s best interests to design that in such a way that recipients can quickly and easily view it on their device of choice; otherwise, these campaigns might not be as effective as they could be.

WTT: I know that Canon, and many of its dealers, have expertise in this area and offer professional services. Is this something they can help with?

DA: We certainly have the skills to help if a print service provider wants us to. Print service providers who have made the investment in staff to do campaign development most likely have the web development talent they need to ensure that content can be readily viewed cross-platform. The companies that don’t offer these services have bigger issues to worry about than whether they can design cross-platform. They need to figure out how to get into the services provisioning space to begin with.

WTT: And what if they are not being asked for this type of service? I hear that objection frequently.

DA: As someone who runs a marketing organization, I don’t find myself asking vendors if they are developing content for different form factors, because I make the assumption that they are.

WTT: Or if they are, perhaps the messaging isn’t getting out. I often tell people that I don’t go into McDonald’s looking for Chinese food.

DA: As in any industry, we often get caught up in our own bubble. We are working with this stuff every day, and we often assume what we know or are doing is common knowledge amongst customers. But when you speak to them, you frequently learn that you can always communicate more effectively. So it does require very clear and specific outbound messaging about the types of services being offered. Perhaps with that angle, it is an area where they can differentiate themselves by raising client awareness that campaigns they develop can be delivered to recipients’ platforms of choice to ensure that the campaign has a greater level of reach and effectiveness.

WTT: What were some of the other high points from the Workflow Optimization Study?

DA: The data that came out of the study showed a profound disconnect between IT and non-IT organizations that begs the question about whether they are even talking to each other. While that was interesting, I thought the information David Johnson from Forrester discussed during The Evolving Workplace WebEx in and around worker productivity and workforce engagement was fascinating. That didn’t immediately click when I was thinking about BYOD and mobile print. If a company wasn’t taking the steps to build a BYOD policy and provide access to printing and other applications from mobile devices, that it would lessen employee engagement and even create challenges in retention and recruitment. That’s what Forrester data reflects.

WTT: Any parting words before we close?

DA: As a business owner or manager, if you are not on top of some of these trends, you are lessening an employee’s ability to be effective in his or her job functions. By extension, if they are focused on work and motivated in that respect, detracting from engagement puts them at risk of leaving the organization. Those are things that keep you up at night. Here at Canon, having over 100 people in the various business units I manage, I pay close attention to these things. It is hard to replace people and recruit. Also, if I have a customer, it is easier to keep that one than go find a new one. I would much rather put energy and time into keeping happy employees and happy customers than looking for new ones.