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Finding an AYCE Up Your Sleeve

3 Mar, 2015 By: West McDonald

If you Google “all you can eat” (AYCE) you might be surprised by some of the options you’ll find. Oh sure, there are the ones you would expect, like Chinese buffets, sushi bars, pasta palaces and the like, but by page 6 or 7 of the search results, things start to get interesting. The AYCE is no longer just restricted to food; it is fast becoming the billing method of choice for a lot of things you used to buy. Let’s start with some easy ones that you are likely using today.

AYCE is now the most common billing model for Internet service and cellular plans. How about AYCE seating choices (for the St. Louis Blues in one ad; the Toronto Blue Jays in another)?  Movies and TV anyone? Why not NetFlix? This has, especially for the younger Millennials, become the AYCE now preferred, much to the angst of traditional cable companies. Sure, there are many in the world of business that wish AYCE would stick to the buffet crowd. Yet for better or for worse, the traditional purchase model is disappearing in some surprising places.

Here are some industries or markets that AYCE is popping up & making big inroads:

Mobile Apps: Apps are for the most part, billed around a pay per App hierarchy, but thanks to Telcos like Sprint, even this is changing. In August of 2014, Sprint launched their “App Pass” as a subscription service. You pay about $4.99 a month and get a virtual buffet of Apps to pick & choose from whenever you like. It’s kind of like NetFlix for mobile apps. It won’t be long before other providers follow suit.

E-books: If you are like me, you read a lot. I polish off one or two books a week. I spend a lot of money on traditional book purchases as well as E-books; at least $100 a month - or I used to.  Thanks to Scribd.com, I pay just $8.99 a month and have UNLIMITED access to over 400,000 books from over 900 publishers. It is reading nirvana and I save over $90 a month compared to purchasing my books.

Productivity Tools: I used to buy Microsoft Office every four or five years. Now I use Google Apps and Prezi by paying a low monthly subscription fee. Because it is cloud based, I “share” documents from the cloud instead of clogging up my company’s email server with attachments and multiple document versions. SalesForce.com, Oracle, and a host of other services that we used to purchase have now moved to subscription offerings as options.

• Managed IT Services: Gone are the days of break fix and hourly rates. Managed IT Service providers have quickly moved into value-based per seat and per user billing models. Managed IT services is growing like wildfire and margins are fantastic.

• Managed Print Services: There was a time when you would pay “per page.” There are a host of providers who now provide “per seat” options, particularly those doing managed print as well as Managed IT services. Print Governance software such as Print Audit 6 are installed to allow monitoring and management of user print behavior, and the customer receives their print on a per user subscription service, AYCE-style.

You got me - I “embellished” on the last one! Well, kind of.  The truth is, I have spoken to a good number of Managed Print providers who have begun investigating on how to build Per Seat Billing models for print. Most of those who are doing this have also adopted a Managed IT Services practice as part of their diversification strategy. Even Print Audit has moved to a virtual AYCE model for our managed print software offerings. And from a financial perspective it has made Print Audit and our Premier members stronger than anybody could have imagined.

If AYCE is truly coming to the world of office print, what are some of the benefits?  What are the driving forces moving dealers to consider per seat billing vs. CPP?

•         Businesses like predictable & fixed billing models for budgeting purposes

•         Technologies like Print Audit 6 for print governance make it possible to monitor & fine-tune print behavior

•         Printing is being replaced by less paper intensive workflows

•         Print per user is flat and on the decline

I am willing to bet that there are a lot people reading this post thinking that it’s all hogwash; that CPP is here to stay, that print volumes are on the rise and the paperless office is still a myth. I am also willing to bet that there are a lot of folks reading this saying, “I knew it!” The question is, who is right? Who is wrong?


If you like a good debate, join David Ramos of InfoTrends, and myself (West McDonald, Print Audit) at the ITEX EXPO for the invigorating session on March 11: “How Will MPS Be Billed in 2015?” (www.itexshow.com for details). David and I will duke it out and settle the argument on AYCE and Managed Print once and for all! I will be arguing the case “For” per seat billing and David will be arguing “Against” it.  We invite you to attend and share your feelings on the topic as well. Who knows, you might just find the winning answers you were looking for as you plan your Managed Print strategy for the next five years.

About the Author: West McDonald

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