When you think about it, the average employee isn't really asking all that much of their internal IT organization. All they really want is a frictionless work experience. More often than not, that simply means being able to move a file between mobile computing devices, PCs, the cloud and to print it at will. At the moment, however, that's a more cumbersome process than it should rightfully be.
In the wake of the recent consolidation of its PC and printer groups, Hewlett-Packard is making a case that in order to unify the workflow process across the office, organizations are going to be better off standardizing on a group of products that were designed to work together from the ground up.
That's still a work in progress for HP, but as part of its first efforts to make that statement a reality, HP today launched more than 80 PC and printers products that are a step in that direction. For example, there's a new HP multifunction printer (MFP), called the LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn, that allows end users to scan a document and then automatically send it somewhere via their email without having to log into their PC. In addition, that printer allows users to print directly from their Apple iOS device without first having to transfer that document to their PC. There's also another MFP, called the HP LaserJet Pro 200 color MFP M275nw that allows users to scan and email 3D objects and also supports Apple's AirPrint technology.
Of course, all this assumes you should have to go back to the office in order to print something in the first place. In addition to announcing a global partnership that will allow end users to print documents on HP printers that are being made available as a service at more than 4,000 storefronts managed by UPS, the company also unveiled an HP Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One printer that employees can take on the road with them.
According to John Solomon, senior vice president for imaging and printing in the new HP Printing and Personal Systems Group, HP will make a lot more progress in this area in the months ahead. The challenge is going to be getting organizations to appreciate the nuances of workflow management as a whole versus thinking in terms of buying PCs and printers in isolation from one another. To that end, Solomon, during a Global Influencers Summit held in Shanghai today, said that IT organizations need to think of the printer as a "content delivery vehicle."
None of the 80 new products being launched by HP on their own is a fundamental game changer in that regard. But in a world where the consumerization of IT means that IT organizations are increasingly being judged on the quality of the IT experience as defined by how well devices interoperate with each other, HP is trying to create a definable HP workflow experience.
That may not be as important to the business as the next great killer business application, but increasingly end users are letting IT organizations know that all the little things that make their daily tasks that much easier to accomplish matter, especially in an era where end users are regularly doing end runs around the IT department. The truth is that IT organizations that ignore that part of the job are not going to be seen as being all that relevant to internal employees, no matter how well they support mission-critical business processes.
Whether that means IT organizations need to standardize on a particular set of products from a single vendor remains to be seen. But what is clear is that workflow within most organizations needs to be re-examined at a time when employees have as many, if not more, options outside the office to accomplish a particular task than in it.