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 firstname.lastname@example.org.