MPSA Commentary

MPSA Member & MPS Industry Commentary
  • 31-Dec-2015 2:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Patricia Ames

    I started writing this blog thinking I would highlight the top news stories of 2015 and talk about the HP split, the financial woes of some of the major OEMs, the big mergers and acquisitions of the year and maybe mention a few of the big lawsuits. I then decided to change direction, thinking a year in review was not very original. So I decided to concentrate instead on some of the big themes in 2015 — security, the renewed focus on the SMB, new technologies revolutionizing the industry, our challenges incorporating millennials in the workforce and maybe touch on some of the hype surrounding 3D printing.

    Then I realized the biggest story of 2015 for the MPSA was really about the astounding amount of talent the association has gathered and the unique voices of its members. When I look at some of the most widely read industry articles and blogs of 2015, a large percentage involved the MPSA community in some way. I don’t want to steal any of MPSA vice president Doug Bies’ thunder, as Doug will be covering specific MPSA contributions and achievements in his blog in early 2016, so I will focus on the broader industry contributions.

    Here is a recap of some of the notables:

    GreatAmerica Financial Services was active all year, sponsoring events, exhibiting at trade shows and OEM dealer events, continuing major integrations with top vendors in the industry, winning awards and holding workshops to help educate their dealers, including the stellar managed IT workshops led by Paul Dippel. Somehow amidst all of that activity, they also managed to contribute to the community by writing articles and blogs. Jennie Fisher wrote an excellent piece discussing dealership transformation, and gamification was the topic of this blog by Lynette Bossler. Kim Louden is a current board member and co-chair of the Standards and Best Practices committee and Josie Heskje is co-chair of the Marketing Communications committee.

    Muratec was also a dynamic presence in 2015. They formed a significant partnership with Intellinetics, released a number of new devices and Lou Stricklin, treasurer of the MPSA, weighed in on selling to the SMB.

    Canon had an active year and was a top contributor of subject matter expertise to the community in 2015.  Canon amazed the industry with their innovations at the Canon Expo in 2015, which occurs only every five years.  Dennis Amorosano walked us through taming the dragons, and on the lighter side, Canon was the sponsor of the now infamous copier drop. Active Canon MPSA members include Vice President Doug Bies and Marketing Communications committee co-chair Ann Priede.

    Powerhouse supplier Clover Imaging Group had a major rebranding in 2015. Parent company to MSE, West Point Products, Depot International, OPRA and more, they made a big splash in the news by announcing major partnerships with Konica Minolta and most recently, Sharp. One of the most active Clover executives in the MPSA is longtime member and current Secretary Sarah Henderson. She is also one of the most consistent educational content contributors to the industry, writing about Six Sigma as it can apply to MPS and giving tips on successful supply management. In addition to Sarah, Team Clover has Aldo Spensieri as chair of the Education committee.

    Supplies Network/Distribution Management is a longtime member of the MPSA. Their Gear eXperience program takes resellers beyond traditional MPS to a portfolio of holistic solutions. Ron Alphin serves on the board of the MPSA and is the sponsor of the Standards and Best Practices committee.

    One of the best parts of this amazing industry is the willingness of the companies and individuals to give back to the community. MPSA corporate members Muratec, Clover and YSoft are teaming up with MWAi to support the Jillian Fund, following MWAi’s 2015 charity motorcycle ride across the country to honor one of the industry’s most beloved dealers, Bobby Shields and raise funds for cancer research.

    Corporate members were not the only contributors however. Individual members also got their voice out in the community and made an impact.

    Former president of the MPSA and current board member, Greg Walters, is a prolific writer with a book already published and reams of articles and blogs designed to spark provocative discussions on just about every theme germane to the industry. His blog on the HP split was one of the most read of 2015.

    And last but not least, let’s not forget Doug Johnson, founding member and former Treasurer of the MPSA. A long-time contributor to the MPS community, Doug has been weighing in recently on channel strategy, invoking Yogi Berra. It can’t get better than that.

    There are many, many more generous contributors from the MPSA that have not been mentioned in this blog and I apologize if you were not included. The fact that there are too many to mention is perhaps the greatest gift of all, and the reason 2016 will be a spectacular year for the MPSA — the industry can only benefit from that. Happy New Year everyone and thank you all!

    Patricia Ames is an analyst at BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at patricia@bpomedia.com.

  • 14-Dec-2015 10:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Doug Bies

    What is Managed Print Services? This question is so simple, yet so complex. Years ago, in the pre-MPSA era, if you polled 100 industry resources on this question, you probably would have received 100 different answers. Not that any of them were wrong or right, it’s just that an organization like the MPSA didn’t exist to help define MPS. MPS in its infancy was fairly basic and often considered a new business model to capture revenue on HP printers.

    Since that time, our industry has evolved greatly, as has MPS. Although the MPSA was founded in 2009, many of its members have been involved in MPS for many years prior. Through our MPSA members, we helped define MPS and used this definition to help our own organizations develop MPS programs and sell them to our customers.

    What was once considered basic HP printer support has witnessed a complete evolution to what we know as MPS as today.

    On December 2, the MPSA announced an update of the MPS definition. A special committee that included many of the brightest minds in the MPS industry collaborated over a number of meetings to talk through what MPS was, is, and how the MPSA should define it.  

    As a result, MPS is now defined as, “The active management and optimization of business processes related to documents and information, including input and output devices.”

    Let’s face it, when you compare the updated definition to the previous one, I can see how some would not see a difference, as structurally, MPS is defined pretty similarly to how it was previously. There is reason for that though.  

    MPS has evolved, yet much of the revenue associated with MPS engagements comes from the printed page.  

    Our paying organizations exist because they are profitable and drive this profit from recurring pages generated through MPS, hence the inclusion of “input and output devices” in the definition. Although corporations are seeing less reliance on document output, the complete death of page volume is more fiction than fact.

    “Business Processes” and “Information” are what really stand out to me in the updated definition. Think about these two key phrases and how you help your customers today. It’s not about saving customers 30% or a few mils on clicks, it’s more about how you can help your customers with their business processes and the information they use to run their organizations. MPS isn’t as easy as it once was, but with customers today having complex needs, MPS should be leading sales conversations. 

    We as an industry owe it to our customers and ourselves to focus less on the perceived commodity behind MPS and deliver MPS that can help our customers achieve positive business outcomes. Let the MPSA’s updated definition of MPS help guide your discussions and sales efforts today and into the future.

    Doug Bies of Canon USA is vice president of the MPSA and co-chair of the education committee. Doug entered the print industry after receiving his marketing degree from Northern Illinois University in 2005. After successfully selling hardware, software, and solutions, for a number of years at Océ, he played a key role in creation and monetization of Océ's MPS Program. Following Canon's purchase of Océ, Canon leveraged Doug's experience at Océ to further develop Canon's MDS Program. Doug's experience with MPS program development, social media, sales, marketing, and planning will play a key role in both the future of both Canon and the MPSA.  

  • 30-Nov-2015 8:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Ann Priede

    Have you ever listened to those TV commercials for new prescription drugs that include a laundry list of side effects so severe that you wonder if it’s worth taking the prescription to begin with?

    I was recently thinking about why companies decide to adopt a managed print strategy and how they manage the conversion – which often results in some unpleasantness for end users – and this analogy struck me as very appropriate. First, unmanaged print is much like an illness in that it deprives a company from operating at its best. Second, knowing about the side effects of the prescription – in this case managed print – ahead of time helps to alleviate the discomfort that may result from taking the medicine. Which leads me to change management.

    Change – even positive change – is often a bitter pill to swallow. People develop comfortable habits and routines and are loath to change them without good reason. It’s a classic case of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), and a well-planned comprehensive change management campaign helps employees at all levels understand why the change is coming, how it will be implemented, and why it’s beneficial. 

    • Common reasons for change include reducing costs, increasing productivity, and enhancing security.
    • Implementation methods range from supplementing existing equipment to a wholesale replacement of the entire fleet and can include services and staffing along with hardware and supplies. 
    • Benefits must be relevant to employees, which may dictate a variety of messages – cost savings for managers, better workflows for staff, less waste for environmentally-conscious employees.

    A change management campaign can consist of a variety of approaches, including the use of printed posters, corporate newsletters, email, pop-up messages, company Intranet, and change advocates or specialists. The proper use of change management can ward off and perhaps eradicate common side effects of implementing print management, such as:

    • Printer hoarding: users hide their personal printers to avoid having to walk down the hall to retrieve their output;
    • Printer envy: users want what their coworker has, regardless of what they actually need;
    • Printer cloning: users insist they need a like-for-like replacement, even if they don’t use many of the features of their existing device; and
    • Printer gluttony: users continue to purchase printers outside the managed print agreement.

    Ongoing change management is essential to prevent users from relapsing into old habits and routines. With regular application and communication to end users, you can keep them pain free so that they can enjoy their printing and imaging lives to the fullest.

    Ann Priede is Operations Manager at Canon Solutions America and co-chair of the Managed Print Service Association (MPSA) Marketing Communications Committee. Priede has more than 25 years of experience in the imaging industry and has covered technology and services for prominent market research firms Lyra Research and Photizo Group. Prior to being an industry analyst and consultant, Priede held a number of positions in product marketing and product development for Konica Minolta. Contact her at apriede@csa.canon.com.

  • 20-Nov-2015 11:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Robert Palmer

    Over the past couple months I have been discussing the significant opportunity available to service providers by expanding your practice deeper into managed content services. My point is that there are many commonalities between MPS and MCS, and many of those areas have been exposed in this multi-part series. With this installment, I will look closer at issues those issues important to delivering a comprehensive workflow assessment.

    When it comes to process optimization, streamlining paper-based workflow is the most natural place for most organizations to begin. This could involve many different aspects, from digitizing content to automating existing paper-based processes. Most businesses are already involved in paperless strategies and converting from paper to digital, but the transition is not always easy.

    Moving from paper to digital likely means implementing a new document management or enterprise content management (ECM) system, which can be troubling for some companies due to the costs and time involved with such a process. Business managers and CEOs are naturally wary of programs that might disrupt the existing work environment or require significant changes to the IT infrastructure.

    A comprehensive workflow assessment can help organizations create an implementation plan for process optimization and help ease the transition. The plan should not only identify problem areas in the existing environment, but also set parameters for measuring the effectiveness of new procedures, including those that involve workflow automation. During the initial stages of the workflow assessment, it is critical to secure participation from both management and employees—particularly those who have direct interaction with corporate documents and information.

    As is the case with a typical MPS assessment, the workflow assessment can only be successful when there is buy-in from management and staff. Individual employees are likely the most knowledgeable when it comes to defining existing work processes and identifying specific trouble spots. At the same time, gaining employee trust during the earlier stages will help to ease the transition to a new or replacement process.

    A comprehensive workflow analysis should look closely at a variety of areas related to document infrastructure and information management, including existing document management systems, content management systems, security requirements, document workflow, review and approval processes, mobile integration, and the need to integrate with legacy business systems.

    It is also important to develop a detailed understanding of how information moves throughout the organization. The workflow assessment should help to identify the mix of electronic and paper-based processes; locate disparate document silos and digital repositories; identify problems associated with document storage, retrieval, and distribution; quantify and qualify existing physical constraints; and, identify existing measures surrounding information security and regulatory compliance.

    With a detailed understanding of the existing document infrastructure, it is possible to begin mapping out current paper-based processes. Business process mapping is a crucial step in the initial stages of workflow assessment and analysis. By creating a schematic representation of the sequence of events that occur during any given process or task, it is easier to identify workflow bottlenecks and potential areas for optimization.

    Process mapping can be done manually, but there are a wide variety of software applications available for process modeling and many are offered as SaaS-based solutions for service providers. As part of the workflow assessment, process mapping serves as a foundational tool for creating a baseline of comparison between prior conditions and the desired result or business outcome. It also serves as a tool to facilitate communication with all those involved in the specific process.

    Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. He is an independent market analyst and industry consultant with more than 25 years experience in the printing industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. In December 2012 he formed Palmer Consulting as an independent consultancy focused on transformation, mobility, MPS, and the entire imaging market. Palmer is a popular speaker and presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at robert@bpomedia.com.

  • 26-Oct-2015 5:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Robert Palmer

    Last month, I began my series discussing the MCS opportunity by explaining how service providers could leverage their MPS foundation as a functional model for branching deeper into managed content services. I explained the many commonalities between MPS and MCS—particularly how the MPS service delivery infrastructure maps well to the various components needed to support an MCS practice. As a service provider, you should view MCS as an evolution of managed print, shifting the focus from simply managing devices and output to managing content.

    Indeed, the core elements of the MCS solution are basically identical to those of MPS: bundling software, solutions, and support into a packaged service to help customers deal with issues around content management, collaboration, storage, retrieval, and distribution. These solutions must be integrated with core capabilities in content security, image capture, and conversion from paper to digital. The ultimate goal of MCS is to free up access to information to help your customers improve certain business processes and increase productivity.

    The network MFP is the best foundation for integrating the various software components, beginning with a fully integrated document management platform. The document management system is essential in helping businesses gain control over existing paper-based processes to create a more optimized content strategy. The best document management systems offer advanced capabilities in areas such as document capture and conversion, OCR capabilities, cloud storage, backup and restore tools, content security, and the hooks necessary to integrate with existing workflow applications and business systems.

    A good document management system addresses the fundamental elements of MCS by freeing up access to information, uncovering existing document-based process bottlenecks, and simplifying employee collaboration. According to a recent “Trends in Workflow Automation” study conducted by CompTIA, a majority of businesses put the ability to easily share content as the number one feature of a document management system, followed by integration with existing workflow systems.

    Understanding current document management deployment can also prove helpful when it comes to identifying customers that might be more suitable for MCS. According to the CompTIA study, 63% of companies that view themselves as advanced technology adopters have already implemented content management systems. Meanwhile, only 23% of technology laggards have implemented a document management solution. This indicates that smaller businesses with fewer IT resources have concerns over implementing document management due to issues related to complexity or costs. These businesses should be prime targets for outsourced content services.

    Meanwhile, MCS is not just about managing information but also collecting and mining usage data to help customers make better business decisions. There is little doubt that we could gain a better understanding of the customer environment by leveraging the data we are already collecting. As service providers, we could take greater advantage of that data by leveraging analytics to identify other pain points in the customer environment that might not be as visible without a comprehensive content management system or service.

    Knowledge workers today are capturing, creating, and consuming massive amounts of information. Fueled by the Internet of Things (IoT), the fully connected office of the future will deliver even more opportunities for data gathering and mining. Gaining access to all of this information for data analytics, predictive analytics, and real-time business intelligence is high on the list of IT initiatives for most organizations, but few understand the intricacies involved.

    The challenge is putting the proper systems in place to access and manage the massive amounts of structured and unstructured data in order to leverage it in meaningful ways. There is a growing demand for business intelligence services to help organizations simply gain access to data that resides across multiple silos. Data discovery services could be an important component of an MCS strategy.

    The next step in creating a sound MCS infrastructure is developing the ability to deliver comprehensive workflow assessments. I will discuss that step in part three of this series next month. Until then, let me know what you think. Have you considered adding managed content services to your portfolio? If so, share your feedback so that our members can learn from your experience. 

    Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Palmer has more than 25 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. Palmer is a popular speaker and he presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at robert@bpomedia.com.

  • 23-Oct-2015 10:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Christian Pepper, LMI Solutions

    While nearly all MPS providers use remanufactured monochrome cartridges extensively across their contracts, very few have adopted color as evidenced by the OEMs greater than 90 percent market share.  This creates a great opportunity for savvy resellers.

    Imaging industry trends

    A.  From 2008 – 2012 the Great Recession encouraged businesses to lower printing costs first by removing unwanted/unneeded  print and then by migrating very expensive color pages to cheaper monochrome.

    B.  Since 2012, the rate of printed page volume decline has settled at about 3 percent per annum and that is predicted to continue.

    C.  Since 2012 printer OEMs have tried to stem the volume loss, by migrating end users to color pages from monochrome. They have launched more efficient and lower cost (to buy and operate) color devices.

    D.  Research shows that color documents are far more “valuable” to end users than monochrome, increasing the professionalism of their marketing, document comprehension by the recipient and even boosting on time credit account payment for those that send color invoices. 

    E.  Color pages can still be charged between four and 10 times that of a monochrome page

    By switching to aftermarket color cartridges you can dramatically lower your toner cartridge purchase costs.  This enables you to reap more profit, pass on some of the savings to your clients, or be more price competitive in deals where your opponents are using OEM.  However, as you have probably learned over the years, not all aftermarket color cartridges are created equal, and while customers are willing to pay a much higher price for color than monochrome, they also have very high quality expectations.  To help you select the right partner here are the top three things to consider:

    (1)  Image Quality

    Unlike a single monochrome cartridge, in a color device there are four cartridges that have to interact with each other to produce great results.  Furthermore, as its rare for all four color carts to run out at the same time, you should select a vendor whose image quality is comparable to the OEM, or else when you change out one of the toners the end user is going to notice that their print looks different (and probably complain) 

    (2)  Reliability

    Color documents are very personal to end users – How their logos and other regularly printed documents look will be noticed and scrutinized – not just when they first install the toner, but every day until the cartridge is empty.  As color pages are so much more costly than monochrome, end users also pay close attention to how long that cartridge lasts and what value for money they are receiving.

    (3)  Intellectual Property Compliance

    High quality color is very challenging to produce from an engineering perspective and some vendors that (often) manufacture in Asia take shortcuts by blatantly copying the OEM’s IP.  This is called counterfeiting and increasingly OEMs are suing resellers in the USA that choose these products (that usually turn out to have low image quality and be unreliable).  Before you choose an aftermarket partner, research where they manufacture, what steps they take to ensure they respect OEM IP and whether they can indemnify you against future complaints (and of course whether they have the financial capability to back up that indemnification!)

    Investigate these three areas, select a high quality provider and you will be in great shape to make the switch from high-priced OEM to a lower-cost and more profitable alternative.

    For a free guide on more best practices to help you switch customers from OEM color to high quality aftermarket color, download this free guide.

    Christian Pepper began his imaging career at Lexmark in the late 1990s designing and managing their corporate asset recovery program.  In the 2000s he joined and went on to become a shareholder of Printersdirect, a printer refurbisher. In 2008 he emigrated from the UK to the USA to grow the USA subsidiary as demand for high quality remanufactured printer hardware increased in the Managed Print Services channel.  LMI Solutions acquired Printersdirect in 2014 and Christian joined the company as Director of Marketing and Business Intelligence.  He resides in Phoenix Arizona and is a regular industry speaker and editorial contributor.

  • 30-Sep-2015 12:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Robert Palmer

    Are you ready for managed content services (MCS)? It is a significant opportunity, and if you are not already doing so you should at least investigate the prospects. Over the next couple months, I will use this blog series to build my case as to why MPS providers should consider making the leap from MPS to MCS. 

    Businesses of all sizes are struggling with the need to regain control of content and business-critical information. For most companies, information management has become a top priority. The transition to mobile technologies, cloud computing, and the fully connected digital ecosystem has changed the way we work, and many of these changes revolve around the basic need to manage and control access to information. 

    It is no secret that companies are investing in content management and process optimization as strategic business priorities. That alone should serve as an indicator of the growth opportunity represented by managed content services, which has evolved to become a targeted area of expansion for service providers across multiple channels and routes to market. 

    Why should you consider MCS? To begin with, there is a strong correlation between what you do as an MPS provider and what is required with an MCS practice. If you are already in managed print services, then you likely have developed a business model and service delivery infrastructure that maps well to managed content services. You are conducting assessments, and you understand how to walk customers through a sales process tied to SLAs that are based on a manage-then-optimize approach. 

    Many office equipment dealers and MPS providers are searching for adjacent business opportunities to augment the business of print. With its roots in document and content management, MCS and workflow automation represent a natural migration path with significant upside. Even if you are an IT reseller or managed service provider (MSP), the business model for MCS still applies. 

    Of course, there are barriers to entry that should be considered. For the customer, the challenge is encapsulated in the fear of change: how much disruption to existing work process is expected and how long until I see a return on investment? For the channel, the obstacles are related to the need to develop new skill sets and acquire the proper solutions. What providers need to understand is that the MPS foundation could serve as a direct pathway to managed content services, which is based on the basic concept of bundling devices, software, services, and support into a packaged service. 

    Most providers approach MPS through a staged delivery model. There can be various tiers in this approach, but the basic concept is to walk the customer through phases or steps of implementation. It begins with an assessment of the environment, with the primary objective to identify device deployment and utilization in order to optimize the print infrastructure. The initial phase allows providers to target initial cost reduction while collecting usage data that could be used to recommend further adjustments in more strategic areas of the business, such as workflow, security, and process automation. 

    This inherent phased migration path for MPS could be utilized as an effective way to branch into other managed content services — especially if the two programs are designed to work in concert. In fact, one could argue that MPS in its current form almost acts as a barrier to advanced document services and solutions. In most MPS engagements today, there is a tendency to look at print as a separate business function, ignoring the fact that changes made to the print environment could have a negative impact in other areas of the business.

    This is how an MCS practice could provide differentiation for you as a provider. By leveraging your MPS foundation as a functional model for MCS, you drive better business outcomes and create a deeper level of engagement with your clients. You increase the level of stickiness by bundling advanced solutions into the services you already provide. 

    Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Palmer has more than 25 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. Palmer is a popular speaker and he presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at robert@bpomedia.com.

  • 21-Sep-2015 3:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Mark Schneider, Y Soft

    As if celebrity divorces are not entertaining enough, now corporations are splitting up too. It’s become the latest trend. HP, eBay and Symantec are recent Silicon Valley high-tech examples but recently companies in all sectors are doing it too: RR Donnelley, W.R. Grace and Computer Sciences. And research shows this trend will continue since the effect on shareholder value proves a split makes sense.

    As a provider of IT services, what do you do if your customer announces they are splitting the company up? How can you turn this into a selling point – that in the event of a reverse merger (or changes in general), your solution and customer care organization can guide them through the change easily?

    When a company plans to split up, the IT organization is hit the hardest – internal systems, contracts and services have to be analyzed so that vendors can be contacted and change plans organized. It’s a lot of work and not surprising that it takes companies years to complete a split.

    In the case of print management, how your services and support are structured can make things easier for IT. From a pricing perspective, if pricing is done on a per device structure, it is much easier to calculate what pricing will look like for the split organizations – IT just needs to know how many MFPs are going to the various new entities. If pricing is done on a per-person or per-page basis, it becomes more complicated. The IT person will not know for a long time how employees will be allocated across the various new organizations and which of these employee groups are responsible for the bulk of print services.

    Lastly on pricing, a print management solution and ongoing customer care based on a subscription model helps the organization as there are no lengthy contracts to renegotiate.

    Consider also the print administrators role. Usually large organizations are a result of mergers and acquisitions. Sometimes these organizations fully merge IT operations. In a reverse merger, these IT operations now have to split. If the print management system is capable of having administrators for each division, what we call local administrators, a reverse merger is made much easier as the print management system is already configured for administrators to access and manage only those MFPs in their division. This is one less thing that IT management has to worry about.

    An important consideration for a print administrator is a seamless continuation of services. How quickly can you react to requests for new quotes, billing changes and ongoing customer care? Does the new, slimmer organization need all the features or are some of those feature needed only in some of the new entities? Is your solution an all or nothing or is their flexibility based on critical needs?

    While reverse mergers seem to be a trend, mergers and acquisitions are still happening too. The same considerations described above are headaches for the combined organization and the poor IT print administrator who has to sort it all out. 

    How flexible is your print management solution and the services that stand behind them? How do you picture that conversation going when your customer calls you and says, “We’re splitting the company”? Is splitting up hard to do or are you prepared? It’s a topic we invite discussion on as you consider adding managed print services to your offerings. Y Soft is here to help.

    Mark Schneider is the national sales manager for Y Soft, North America. Reach him at mark.schneider@ysoft.com

  • 25-Aug-2015 12:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Robert Palmer

    Information management is without a doubt the biggest challenge facing businesses today. It is not just about how much information we create and acquire, but also how that content is being consumed and distributed. It is all about the mobilization of the workforce. Forrester estimates that 29 percent of the entire global workforce can now be characterized as anywhere, anytime workers — a figure that has doubled since 2012. Studies have indicated that more than three quarters of the U.S. workforce has some form of mobility associated with their job.

    As a result, knowledge workers require constant, uninterrupted access to business-critical information. It is easy to say, but for small- to medium-size businesses (SMBs) that lack an effective digital workflow strategy it can be overwhelming. The challenge lies not just in the process of making information accessible, but also controlling, securing, and ensuring that the integrity of content is not compromised as it is manipulated and moved throughout what has increasingly become a fragmented document environment.

    To address the changing demands for today’s office environment, businesses need an integrated document infrastructure built around three core elements: print management, capture and conversion, and intelligent document workflow. These three elements, deployed through an integrated solution at the MFP, can deliver the comprehensive information management capabilities needed to address most critical business objectives.

    Many businesses fail to recognize the importance of the network MFP as the best foundation for integrating these solutions together. The distributed network MFP, combined with scanning software and intelligent workflow tools delivers the ability to convert paper to digital format at the most opportune point in the overall process. This is how businesses can begin to automate processes and drive real efficiencies into existing business workflow.

    Interestingly, the three elements mentioned are often thought of as cost centers and a drain on IT resources. For example, printing today is primarily viewed as a business expense: difficult to manage with costs that are not easily recovered. For most smaller businesses, scanning is used either to share or store documents, and typically considered a specialized task that occurs at the end of a process. Meanwhile, most SMBs simply avoid changes in document workflow for fear of disrupting productivity.   

    When coupled with integrated workflow solutions, the network MFP becomes a strong IT asset and a measurable source for productivity. Businesses can dramatically cut costs by reducing print consumption and eliminating non-essential paper, gain control over key business processes to improve productivity, drive efficiencies by automating workflow, and manage content security while providing access to information when and how it is needed.

    The network MFP should be positioned as a gateway to fully integrated digital workflow. Sourcing and deploying the necessary software components across multiple scanners and printers is very costly and difficult to manage. The more effective alternative is to move these activities to fewer, but more powerful MFPs. The ultimate goal is to help your customer transition to digital, reducing dependency on paper-based workflow while allowing employees to work with digital content in more effective ways. 

    Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Palmer has more than 25 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. Palmer is a popular speaker and he presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at robert@bpomedia.com.

  • 28-Jul-2015 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Robert Palmer

    In a few days, I will be heading out to attend the CompTIA ChannelCon conference, to be held August 3–5 at the Chicago Hilton. If you are not familiar with ChannelCon, it is an IT event that features high-level executive panel discussions, training courses, and an expo covering technologies and solutions in multiple areas, such as cloud, security, managed services, and the Internet of Things. 

    During ChannelCon, I will be presenting to members of the CompTIA MPS Community on the topic of “Opportunities in Workflow Automation.” The concept of my presentation is to look at how providers can leverage their foundation in MPS to branch into other document services. It is a concept that is not foreign to those of us coming from the print side of the business. MPS has long been viewed as a stepping-stone into other, value-added services. 

    Nevertheless, while preparing for this presentation I began to realize that the IT channel seems to be moving much quicker through the MPS continuum than what occurred within the imaging channel. This made me wonder: why are so many dealers and resellers in the imaging channel still reluctant to move beyond basic print services?

    When you look at what is happening in the digital workplace, there is little doubt that businesses are struggling with issues related to document workflow and information management. In today’s environment, each process in the information lifecycle can be performed electronically. Everything from document creation to sharing, collaborating, storing, processing, and distribution can all be performed using a mobile device running a cloud-based solution. In today’s office environment, print should no longer be viewed as a standalone or separate business function. 

    When I speak with end users these days, there is a common set of priorities when it comes to the document infrastructure. Digital workflow is almost always first and foremost. Many businesses are struggling with the idea of paper-to-digital conversion. Sure, they are scanning lots of documents, but there are few controls being placed on ad-hoc scanning and virtually no procedures put in place to help keep information accessible, automate workflows, and integrate captured data with existing business systems. 

    Meanwhile, security in all flavors and forms is high on the list for businesses of all sizes. This involves everything from secure access to content to document collaboration platforms, storage, and digital rights management. Security and mobility are also top-level concerns when it comes to printing. Organizations continue to place a high-priority on solutions that can enable secure mobile printing, and there is increased desire for solutions that add pull-print capabilities to enable secure printing from virtually anywhere—both inside and outside the firewall.  

    Historically, MPS has basically been delivered as a linear process. Step 1: print management. Step 2: optimize the infrastructure and reduce costs. Step 3: process improvement. In today’s office environment, particularly for smaller businesses that are only now considering managed print, that process is not longer viable. The most successful MPS programs will take a holistic approach to drive optimization in all areas of the document environment: print, capture and conversion, security, and workflow. This involves a strategic change in implementation, migrating from managed print services to managed content services (MCS). It is a difficult concept for some to comprehend, but the gap between MPS and MCS is probably not as wide as some might think. Are you ready to make the leap?

    Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. He is an independent market analyst and industry consultant with more than 25 years experience in the printing industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. Palmer is a popular speaker and presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at robert@bpomedia.com.

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