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 email@example.com.