Digital Transformation: When Printing Improves Operational Resiliency

When the Huntsville City Schools faced a ransomware attack in the middle of a pandemic, what technology did they turn to first to continue education for their 23,000 students?

Security attacks are all too common these days, and having robust technologies to support business continuity isn’t always a feasible option. Like many others amid digital transformations, the school district leveraged printing as a backup option to improve operational resiliency.

Ransomware attacks have hit many businesses, including the most recent on Colonial Pipeline, and attacks on service companies, manufacturing, hospitals, and retail leading the private sector.

Digital Transformation and Operational Resiliency - Isaac Sacolick

Operational Resiliency Requires Digital and Physical World Technologies

Ransomware is one reason digitally transforming companies look to improve their operational resiliency, but it’s not the only one. Forward-looking businesses also consider hybrid working as a strategy that improves employee experience while enhancing operational resiliency. Construction, manufacturing, energy, field service, healthcare, and retail companies all require operational resiliency to ensure that employees working in the field and away from desks are successful at their jobs through a myriad of real-world conditions. These businesses all recognize that digital transformation requires a blend of digital and physical-world technologies and collaborative practices. For example, organizations are also using printers from HP like the HP LaserJet Enterprise 400 Series to improve team collaboration and enhance the employee experience as people adjust to hybrid working.

So, while digital transformation is strategically important, leaders must also seek MSS (minimally simple solutions) to improve operational resiliency, including print devices and solutions. The combination of digital and physical-world capabilities ensure that customer experiences, employee workflows, and field operations are agile, nimble, and resilient to volatile operating conditions.

HP printer features make it a viable option for many operating environments. The LaserJet Enterprise 400 Series offers 30 – 60 percent lower printer costs and supports double-sided printing by default to reduce paper waste. It’s also the world’s smallest multi-function printer and designed to fit into tight workspaces without compromising advanced enterprise features.

Let’s look at some real-world examples of where the combination of digital and print technologies improves operational resiliency.

Digital and Print Technologies at Construction Jobsites

Many commercial general contractors and subcontractors have been investing in digital technologies to improve productivity, safety, quality, and efficiency at construction jobsites. It’s common to see superintendents and forepersons carrying tablets to review BIM diagrams, access documents, and complete daily reports.

But if you look in the construction jobsite trailer, you’ll see a mix of digital technologies, large screens, and industrial printers. It is not easy to ensure ubiquitous Wi-Fi access at a jobsite, especially on high floors of building construction. When construction is in a remote location, like offshore wind farms, mines, or road construction sites, Wi-Fi access may only be available during specific times of the day.

One construction project manager explained the work required to bridge the digital world with commercial and industrial construction’s complexities. He acknowledged, “We are still printing things that are already in a computer system, handing off tickets, dealing with a slew of apps, signing documents and tickets in the field, scanning them in, and trying to invoice at the end of the day to get paid.”

Retail and Field Operations Require Digital and Print Capabilities

Anytime a customer experience or workflow bridges the physical and digital worlds, there’s the opportunity to leverage digital and print technologies to improve operational resiliency and offer conveniences.

One example is in B2C retail operations, where retailers have significantly transformed because of COVID-19 to provide customers conveniences and safe shopping options. Programs to buy at home and pick up goods at the store and other mobile shopping options were popular and are likely to continue, even as many cities relax health restrictions.

But the operationally most resilient retailers offer both digital and print conveniences in diverse areas. For example, UK retailer Morrisons is transitioning its loyalty program to digital coupons but allowing customers to print vouchers at their stores. Supermarkets, commissaries, and central kitchens use nutritional print labeling capabilities to keep customers informed and aware of dietary conflicts.  

Another example is field operations, where service jobs are often scheduled, routed, and confirmed using mobile applications and devices. But what happens if the device breaks, the app is inaccessible, or there are Wi-Fi connectivity issues? A small glitch can put a halt to hundreds of people in field operations. The most resilient field operations teams also give people in the field printouts of their schedules and routes in case technical problems prevent them from using their devices and apps.

Seeking Minimally Simple Solutions

Having print and scanning capabilities can be the minimally most simple solution to common problems and opportunities. But these solutions are even more powerful when connected to workflows and digital tools using the HP Open Extensibility Platform (OXP) with OXPd JavaScript or OXPd .Net/Java.

Let’s consider some examples.

  • It’s common for field sales and marketing teams to print customized sales materials and ship or leave them behind with prospects. Finding and printing the most relevant, up-to-date version is enhanced when IT integrates the workflow with a content management system (CMS) or enables printing from cloud repositories such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, and SharePoint.
  • Legal notices and invoices arriving by mail can be scanned and routed to the appropriate departments.
  • IT can generate and print bar code labels directly from their CMDB and asset management systems and secure them to laptops, phones, and other devices. 
  • Human Resources can print and distribute resumes before interviews and then scan and process handwritten interview feedback. It’s more personable for the interviewer to review the resume and capture feedback on paper, rather than having an open laptop during the interview. 
  • Meeting leaders looking to survey attendees may find that they get more respondents and richer feedback by printing questions, scanning completed responses, and digitizing the results for analysis.

These are common physical-digital world intersections where printing and scanning offer simplicity and resiliency.

Enable Resilient, Convenient, and Secure Print Solutions

IT can’t offer the convenience and resiliency of integrated digital and printing solutions without security and privacy considerations. The good news is that HP LaserJet Enterprise 400 Series comes with enhanced HP Wolf Security features, which includes HP Trusted Platform module to strengthen the protection of encrypted credentials and data stored on the printer; HP Sure Start to automatically detect, stop, and recover from security attacks without IT intervention; run-time intrusion detection; HP Connection Inspector that inspects outbound network connections; and policy-based fleet deployment with HP Security Manager.

While IT leaders invest in digital transformation, finding simple and secure ways to improve operational resiliency is important, especially when many crucial customer experiences and workflows connect the digital and physical worlds.

This post is brought to you by HP

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of HP.

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.