HP Announces Cloud-First HP Managed Print Flex Program for Hybrid Work Environments
Scalable solution is designed to fit the needs of office and home workers
At its HP Reinvent virtual event for dealer partners, HP Inc. unveiled HP Managed Print Flex, a managed print service (MPS) that has been designed to be cloud-first, easy to scale, secure by design, and optimized for customers with hybrid workforces. The announcement is part of a continuing effort by HP to expand its subscription services product portfolio with tools centered around improving work processes that are (by their nature) increasingly digital and decentralized.
The HP Managed Print Flex base subscription includes many features that should make it attractive to MPS customers. One of our favorites is the HP Smart Pricing Plan, which automatically adjusts pricing month to month based on customers’ actual print volumes, ensuring they always get the lowest cost option. Another uncommon pricing feature is that plans do not account differently for monochrome and color pages: A page is a page. All subscribers also get access to the HP Roam mobile print network, so workers can print securely from virtually anywhere.
The base subscription also includes automatic supplies replenishment that proactively schedules supplies delivery before customers run out and break-fix services with two-hour call back and next business day onsite support (for issues that cannot be resolved remotely). HP’s Wolf Security pack, which delivers tools to ensure endpoints are configured with the right security settings, will be rolled into the package by the end of this year or early 2022. Customers need only commit to a one-year contract, while auto-renewal means they can “set it and forget it” if they prefer.
As for the print devices themselves, HP reports that the roster in the program available for customers to choose from includes a curated range of products from HP Officejet home models all the way up to the LaserJet 8000 series. The choices should satisfy the vast majority of print needs an organization might have.
HP Managed Print Flex in Context
HP has shown excellent vision in its managed services strategy, diversifying its offerings to include many solutions for the office environment, not just print. For example, the HP Flexworker subscription program includes laptops and other IT essentials. And the HP Wolf Security ecosystem fosters a “zero-trust” infrastructure that helps protect all endpoints. Protecting against data breaches was already important before the pandemic, but recent data has shown an incredible spike in activity as criminals have rushed in to catch companies unaware and still adjusting to this new, more remote and hybrid normal.
HP Roam is another fairly recent initiative (2019), one that predates the pandemic but has been very useful since its arrival. Roam replaces traditional, printer-specific drivers with a new interface optimized to work across PCs (desktops and laptops) as well as smartphones and tablets. With Roam installed, users can submit print jobs regardless of location. It’s designed to quickly and automatically discover compatible printers, and (like HP Managed Print Flex) is cloud-first. Security is also highlighted, which aligns with HP’s broader focus on solutions going forward.
HP Managed Print Flex is designed with a hybrid work environment in mind, which is the likely reality of business in the future. Accenture’s 2021 Future of Work study showed that 83% of workers preferred some kind of hybrid model and that, overall, productivity rose so much in certain employees that employers in hybrid work situations now have to be aware of burnout. More importantly, however, is the knowledge that if workers don’t get the hybrid conditions they want, they are willing to switch jobs.
The Growing Importance of Designing for Hybrid Work Environments
While it is still too early to completely understand print’s role in a primarily hybrid work environment, early data indicates that it will remain part of the ecosystem. Our data shows that print volumes did not decrease at any real noticeable levels during the first few months of the pandemic, even in cases where workers found themselves completely remote.
It is important to remember that this data represents more of a scramble to adjust rather than any sort of planned strategic shift. No one expected a large percentage of office work to suddenly shift to completely remote at the start of 2020, so organizations didn’t really have thought-out solutions in place. That said, the remote- and hybrid-work trend that the pandemic accelerated is here to stay. Moving forward, as businesses shift their focus and set the groundwork for long-term hybrid solutions, print may find its role in the office threatened if it fails to be secure, intuitive, and flexible.
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