by West McDonald, MPSA President
When the MPSA (Managed Print Services Association) was founded in 2009, the world was a very different place than it is today. The world was in the midst of a financial crisis that began in 2007 and trillions of dollars were pumped into economies globally by their governments to stave off what could have grown into a depression. Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America, and for those who don’t know, he was the first African American ever to run that office. Michael Jackson, the king of pop, died under strange circumstances. The European Union was formed, and 16 countries decided to use the same currency. 3G technology made surfing the web on phones really, really fast (Ha!). The office equipment space was different too. MSE was still competing with Clover Imaging; Samsung was not a part of HP; PrintFleet, Print Audit and FMAudit were still competing with each other; ECi and MWAi were partners; and Managed Print Solutions providers were still popping up everywhere like mushrooms.
2020 looks a whole lot different. Brexit saw at least one member of the EU decide to use their own money again. The economy in the U.S. is bullish, NATO and other allied strongholds are being tested, Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, TESLA and other automotive giants like GM and Ford are pushing electric cars to near price parity with those run by gasoline, smart watches and smart home technology are everywhere, and the division between those who believe in global warming and those that don’t has become more contentious than ever. The office equipment channel has changed and become a little more contentious too. Equipment sales are flat, users are printing less, independent dealers are being gobbled up by megadealers left, right, and center, and major remanufacturers have either disappeared or are under extreme pressure to deliver on growth for their shareholders. An expression I’ve heard in the past really rings true today: “May your enemy live in interesting times.” We certainly do.
2020 is also the year I was elected President of the MPSA. It’s a tough time to take these reins as the very channel and dealers I’m looking to help are under great pressure. But I’m not a quitter, and I know you’re not either. I’ve been a member of the MPSA for as long as I can remember, through three or four different companies that I’ve worked for. I’ve always enjoyed the resources and, more importantly, the members that I got to work with. Now that I’m at the head of this organization, I have the same love and expectations for it that I always have. I fully expect this organization to do what it has done so well for so long: to “provide community, education, research and best practices to help organizations actively manage and optimize their business processes and related document output devices.”
The things that we have done as an organization, the specifics, are however, going to be very different. They have to be. Managed print as an offering in “Cost Per Page” format is mature. Most of those who are looking to do managed print already are. Managed print contracts, assessment methodologies, and delivery mechanisms are all established. We’re not going to repeat those things or fine tune them. We’re going to be doing new things, bold things, things that might raise an eyebrow or two. In short, the MPSA that I am leading is not your father’s MPSA. As our website URL (www.YOURMPSA.org) states, it’s YOURS. And your business and business challenges aren’t the same as those who came before you. Cost per page is under threat. Megadealers and OEMS are offering flat rate programs and you don’t know how they could possibly do it and not lose money. You are thinking about adding managed services to your mix but have heard horror stories from those who have tried and failed (and crickets from those who are rocking it). As users print less, OEMs are at war with each other to hold on to pages that remain. You might want to better understand how to prep your business for sale to a larger provider and maximize what you deserve. You might be a second-generation leader looking to modernize and grow the business that your elders left in your care. These are the challenges and adventures that concern the MPSA in 2020 because they are the ones that affect you most.
Why change? The reality is that the MPSA is a much smaller organization today than it was even five years ago. Guess what? Our channel is shrinking too, and so are the number of providers of managed print. The choices for our organization, and for our channel, are to change and grow or to stay the course and diminish. As the President of the MPSA in 2020, I give you my commitment that if you are concerned about growth, if you believe that things are changing and you want to profit from those changes, if you think that more of the same simply isn’t good enough, then I encourage you to join us. The MPSA is an association of members, and without you, well, there is no MPSA. You deserve to be a part of those that craft the future. Help guide the future of managed print and other services. Make our channel a thing to be reckoned with. Let’s build the future of the office equipment channel together. Let’s have a say in that evolution and not simply watch it happen. The time for change in our industry and in the MPSA is now, and I for one am excited by the opportunity to help direct how that unfolds. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with all of you out there that are excited about directing the future too! The challenge I put to everybody reading this: Join us. Be an active part in crafting the future.