Business networks are more complicated than ever before. Desktop computers are no longer the only devices that need to be managed. The rise of IoT, along with cloud computing, has enabled a wide variety of connected devices running on virtual private networks (VPN). 

Something as simple as printing a document can be deceptively tricky in an office building with a dozen or more printers connected. Things get even more complicated when Google Drive, OneDrive, and other cloud applications removed all geographical barriers from printing. Making matters worse, employees are printing from smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other assorted devices.

It’s easy to see how signals can get crossed. Think of how much wasteful spending is built into print cost from it. This means managed services need to include both document management and device management to truly be effective. Here’s the difference.

Device Management vs Document Management

Document storage technology rapidly evolved throughout the 2000s and 2010s, and this trend is continuing into the 2020s. The Fourth Industrial Revolution involves a new way of computer hardware and software interacting. Data is being shared across a wider variety of connected devices than ever before, making automation, robotics, VR, and virtual collaboration possible.

With these advancements come inevitable security, compatibility, and configuration problems. Device management is the first step toward creating a solid hardware platform for software to operate on.

Why is Device Management Important?

Every device that connects to the internet has a media access control (MAC) address. It’s like a car’s VIN in that it’s the physical identification number associated with a device. This MAC address is how a device is recognized by the network and assigned a local and/or public IP address. It’s also the basis for end-to-end encryption.

The IP address is like a car’s license plate number. Because an IP address isn’t static, MAC addresses are also used for Bluetooth and other wireless connections. This secure connection is fundamentally how a smartphone and Bluetooth earbuds recognize each other as people walk through a crowded airport.

In business environments, employees and equipment are routinely transferred to new departments, new buildings, and even new cities. Virtual devices are also often used, and this creates another complication. A business may only have a dozen or so physical devices, but virtual devices can number in the thousands.

Device management acts as a directory of each MAC address on the entire business network. Specific device information, like IP address, physical/virtual location, and device type, makes it easier to navigate among business systems. Without it, the simple act of moving or adding a new printer can bottleneck productivity and raise print cost.

Why is Document Management Important?

With all network devices mapped out, document management orchestrates the workflow across them. It’s the key ingredient to make cloud computing, IoT, and even blockchain, work. Document management breaks down each step of the document workflow into repeatable and controllable processes. 

If physical mail is received, for example, document management optimizes its receipt by having it scanned. Once digital, optical character recognition (OCR) is performed, and the data is categorized and assigned a queue. This provides a secure storage environment. 

Digital data spread across cloud servers or blockchain nodes is redundant. When a natural disaster hits or a server goes down, data redundancy is what saves the day.

On the other side, when printing a digital document across devices, document management ensures file integrity. There’s nothing worse than printing a 100-page report and arriving at the printer to find a corrupted file caused a misprint. Is the assignment past deadline? Too bad. Call IT and figure it out for the next hour.

Choosing the Best Managed Services 

Today’s business landscape is varied. Telecommuting has over 3.7 million people working from home at least half the time. Small businesses are lucky enough to choose whether to have a centralized office or go entirely virtual. To compete, big enterprises must accommodate remote workers while also maintaining a distributed physical footprint.

World-class managed service providers have a wide range of solutions to work with any size organization’s individual needs. No matter where employees connect or which device they use, they need the same reliability and security. 

Office equipment like fax machines, printers, and scanners have more capability than ever before. Employee-owned devices like smartphones, laptops, and wearables are a lot more useful too. When combined, the power of these technologies supercharges a business. They streamline processes, decrease the time it takes to complete work, and reduce associated operational costs. 

Stop wasting money on lost data and unconnected devices. Edwards Business Systems has over 60 years of experience guiding businesses towards more strategic and efficient use of tools and resources. Contact us today to learn more.