MPSA Commentary

MPSA Member & MPS Industry Commentary
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 24-Jun-2015 2:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There is no doubt that the SMB market is the sweet spot for MPS these days. Coverage is saturated in the enterprise segment, where the focus has shifted to workflow, process optimization, and high-value document services to drive additional value and margin. The SMB space is viewed as the prime opportunity for growth in managed print, and nearly every OEM is touting strategies and toolsets to attack the market.

    Taking MPS to the broader market requires an entirely different level of engagement with the channel, which is where the conversation begins to get muddled. MPS has its roots in the enterprise — mostly direct engagements established to outsource the management of complex print fleets. In those types of environments, reducing the cost of print became the primary motivator for MPS. Interestingly, many OEMs continue to push a similar go-to-market strategy for MPS tools and programs designed for the channel and aimed at the SMB customer.

    But for smaller businesses, particularly those with fewer than 500 employees, that value proposition is no longer relevant. In the first place, many smaller organizations looking for immediate cost savings from MPS may not see the kind of results they expect simply because their current printing costs are relatively low compared with other business expenses. Delivering 20-30 percent reduction in printing costs for some businesses might provide very little impact to the bottom line.

    At the same time, there is significant risk for smaller businesses in pursuing MPS programs without first considering the impact to overall document workflow. With a general lack of workflow automation and a high dependence on paper-based processes, these businesses stand to lose more in productivity than could ever be gained by reducing print costs.

    The reality is that there are two completely different sets of triggers when it comes to the value proposition for MPS. In the enterprise sector, businesses are primarily looking to consolidate devices, eliminate or significantly reduce printing, control color usage, reduce paper consumption, and develop an overall digital content and security strategy. In the SMB space, the need is for providers that can help manage devices, provide simple workflow automation, reduce requirements on IT staff, and consolidate vendors.

    Basically, the MPS conversation with SMB customers needs to flip. Instead of leading with reduction in costs, the best approach is to lead with services and solutions that can deliver greater productivity, drive process efficiencies, and save time. These are the issues that will likely resonate more fully with smaller businesses. In fact, document workflow is probably the first place smaller businesses to look when searching for ways to take cost out of the operating environment. Outdated or inefficient business processes could be costing companies much more in wasted effort and lost worker productivity than could ever be recovered by making output less expensive to produce.

    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

  • 08-Jun-2015 8:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Mark Schneider, Y Soft

    As an MPS provider you have already decided that services and solutions is an area that will help you expand your business and position yourself for the direction our industry is heading. Have you considered adding print management to your offerings? Here is one good reason (out of many) to consider it.

    When asked “What is the cost to your organization of a confidential or sensitive information getting into the wrong hands” it is not surprising that security is at or near the top of IT’s most worrisome issues. Because of recent high profile consumer data thefts, most people would think of this type of security issue. But to the IT professional, security threats can include malicious or accidental employee access to confidential or otherwise sensitive documents. Many of our customers start a conversation with us around this concern.

    Companies today deploy solutions to mitigate the risk of improper access to information. They vary from simple shredding services to securing or limiting access through an electronic document management system. These are great steps to take and can help efforts in security compliance especially in industries where financial, medical or other personal information is gathered.

    However, an important step often overlooked is access to the MFD. A document left at the printer for any amount of time is a potential breach; consider a disgruntled employee who picks up a financial document or plans about an upcoming layoff.

    Then consider scanning or copying of paper documents. Scanning and copying of documents also pose a risk. Who is scanning and copying and what documents are involved?

    Securing access to these devices from unauthorized users is a first step in print management. Securing access can be accomplished by having users authenticate themselves either with a swipe of their company-issued badge or entry of their username/password, a PIN or any combination of the three entry methods. This ensures that access is given only to authorized users; administrators can even limit the times of day the print/copy/scan functions are enabled or which employees can print but cannot scan for instance.

    This does not alleviate the problem of users who don’t pick up their print jobs in a timely manner or print jobs accidentally picked up by others. However, print management solutions today can solve for these security risks with pull printing or what we call print roaming. Print roaming means the user sends a print job to any printer from his workstation or mobile device as usual. However, the job does not print until the user goes to the printer and authenticates himself. At that time, the job can print immediately, or the user can select (or delete) any jobs in the print queue. The user picks up his documents immediately.

    Similarly, a print management solution can provide an audit trail of scanned documents. While the workflow can allow for scans to be sent to an authorized email address or folder on a workstation (or automated to route to authorized third-party applications, print management can provide reporting that documents who scanned what (meta data about the document) and where it was scanned. For customers that require to know what has been copied, a workflow can be created that scans and stores documents before producing a copy.

    For customers looking to increase security of their document assets, the three things I just described (secure access to the MFD, print roaming and scanning with an audit trail) all help your customer meet their security compliance goals.

    The cost of a document in the wrong hands will vary depending on the type of information the document contains to the malicious intent of the individual who has it. Locking down a company’s document assets must be weighed with the need to do business efficiently.

    The steps to increase the security of a company’s document assets with print management is possible with minimal IT intervention and impact to users. With the additional benefits of reducing costs, increasing workflow efficiencies and supporting mobile workers, a print management solution on its own or as part of an overall MPS offering makes a lot of sense for companies interested in securing their company’s document assets.

    Working together with a print management solution provider, such as Y Soft, you have an additional solution to add to offering to not only expand your business but to offer additional value in an MPS solution. 

    Mark Schneider is the national sales manager for Y Soft, North America

  • 26-May-2015 5:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you look at studies that identify the top IT concerns for businesses today, you will see that security always ranks at the very top of the list. Of course, IT security can involve many different layers: protecting the network from outside attacks, securing devices, managing access to connected assets, maintaining content integrity, and preventing the disclosure of confidential information, just to name a few.

    If you think about it, most of these issues revolve around the need to protect an organization’s most valued asset: information. Businesses are spending billions of dollars on enterprise content management (ECM) software and investing heavily in both internal and external systems to help gain control over business-critical content. Compounding the problem is the continued drive toward mobility and the cloud. In today’s business environment, knowledge workers demand 24/7 access to information, which means that content must be constantly accessible both from inside and outside the corporate firewall.

    Straddling the fence between convenience and the protection of content is where many organizations find themselves today — looking for solutions that will help catapult them into the new world of digital data while mitigating the risks from additional exposure and outside threats.

    It is interesting to see how the office imaging market has evolved as it relates to the issue of IT security.  Today’s MFPs represent an interesting dichotomy. On one hand, the connected MFP is a potential security risk as an unmanaged connected device. On the other, the MFP could be leveraged as a front-line asset for managing content security and protecting access to information. Even so, most businesses do not think of the office MFP as a security risk, or for that matter as potential device for managing content security.  

    As a result, office equipment dealers and MPS providers should become experts at security solutions built around the MFP. These solutions not only represent an important opportunity to drive incremental revenue and profit, they can also help strengthen the bond between you and your customer. Once involved in helping your customers manage security you become a trusted advisor — likely the highest level you could reach as a recognized service provider.

    Make no mistake, there is a plethora of new security solutions coming to market for the MFP, some of which are standalone software applications and others that can be embedded in the device. These software applications address issues such as secure print and mobile print, device access management, digital rights management, secure document capture and routing, data protection, network protection, secure network access, and the list goes on. Many of these solutions are designed to integrate with third-party document management and ECM systems to provide further protection and to address governance and regulation compliance issues. 

    As service providers, we must focus on those issues customers value most. When you consider the amount of money that will likely be spent over the next decade in areas of content management and information security, it only makes sense to expand deeply into those segments. If you are actively searching for ways to increase customer spend and enhance the value of your customer relationships, look no further than developing significant expertise in content security.  

    Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. He has 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

  • 27-Apr-2015 3:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Amy Weiss

    I was watching a geeky sci-fi show not long ago in which a time traveler from around 70 years in the future made the bold statement, “There is no paper in the future. Or more accurately, there is no future in paper.”

    Deep stuff. But is it really true?

    Science fiction has been predicting the paperless society for, well, almost as long as there’s been science fiction. It seems one of the most futuristic things we can imagine is a world without paper.

    From fiction to fact, though, is another story. The transition to a paperless society has been ongoing and complex – and it’s far from complete. In fact, one thing I’ve noticed lately is a trend away from the word “paperless” and toward the phrase “paper-light.”

    Recently, between different trade shows I’ve attended and projects I’ve been working on, I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with IT end users — everyone from CIOs to technicians and administrative assistants. It’s been a fascinating collection of industries, comprising everything from government IT people to AP managers at small architectural firms, from CIOs responsible for large educational environments to those representing small nonprofits. But the goal these people either have, or have been charged with, is generally similar: Make things simpler, easier to find and more manageable.

    There is always one common concern as well: letting go of paper. Whenever I attend a presentation or webinar on going paperless, without fail, at least one audience member will address this concern: “What do I do with my important paperwork? Do I have to get rid of everything? What about security?” And the issue isn’t necessarily with transforming information captured on paper into digital format and entering it into an electronic content management system; it’s with letting go of the originals.

    This is where paper-light versus paperless comes into play. Google it and you'll find pages of references. One of the top results comes from Canon Business Process Service’s Melissa Carlis on Workflow Magazine (I promise I didn’t tweak the search). Carlis is director of records development at the firm and often writes about records management. She suggests that going paperless is not sustainable nor strategic, as it often leads to a “scan everything” approach that results in digital chaos. That term probably rings a bell with many of us.

    Other articles on the subject cite a number of studies (AIIM’s “Paper Wars” being a constant). These articles discuss the barriers to going paperless — one of which is the overwhelming prevalence of printers and MFPs in offices. While those MFPs generally come with a “scan” function, “print” is likely the button more commonly used.

    Over the years I’ve heard a number of companies discuss their attempts to move toward digital systems, usually involving adoption of enterprise content management programs. The process is rarely smooth, even in the most successful. In one case study, 7,000 documents were added to the company’s new ECM in the first year. Over three years, more than 132,000 were added. That included client and vendor invoices, purchase orders, contracts, HR documents, W-9 forms and more. I heard testimonials from numerous employees who raved about increased productivity, time savings and better efficiency.

    I wondered, though, was the transition truly paperless? Or are papers being stored away “just in case”?

    In some cases, it is truly a paperless process (at least, if you believe what they say). No paper is retained. But does that mean you won’t find a single piece of paper in these organizations? Not likely. After all, even the most militant adapters of electronic everything must bow to certain rules and regulations, depending on the industry, that regulate the retention of paper records. It just means that the most efficient means are being used to achieve the most efficient ends.

    There will always be those who are loathe to give up their hard copies. That’s OK. No one is going to pry the paper from their hands. But as content consumption continues to evolve, we’ll end up with a society that is much more comfortable with digital content and more willing to let go of the hard copy. It’s less a matter of not generating any prints, but more a matter of finding the balance between storing them and trashing everything — of the balance between digital chaos and a world overrun by paper.

    Amy Weiss is vice president and editor-in-chief of BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. Contact her at

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