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 email@example.com.