MPS Providers Get Optimistic about Growth Opportunities3 Nov, 2014 By: Lisa Person
Aggregate print volumes continue on a slow decline, leaving little room for debate about the maturing of the print market. So why, then, are managed print services (MPS) providers so bullish on market growth opportunities?
Printing remains a critical function in the business world. According to CompTIA’s recent Trends in Managed Print study, 98 percent of U.S. workers printed at least once during the past quarter. More than half of companies categorize their print volumes as moderate to very high.
Clearly the near universality of workplace printing is a big factor behind the optimism about growth opportunities. In fact, 86 percent of MPS providers surveyed for the CompTIA study expect to see their business grow over the next 12 months. One-third anticipates significant growth of 10 percent or more.
But beyond traditional printing, other factors are at play. Green IT, mobility and the desire to become a less-paper office are all shaping the MPS market in both the short- and long-term.
Based on self-reported adoption, CompTIA pegs the current penetration rate of MPS at about 36 percent. This figure is in line with other market analysis, such as a June 2014 report from research firm Quocirca that examined the competitive landscape for MPS.
MPS Adoption Drivers
While company size, market or individual perspective will influence buying decisions by any one organization, the CompTIA study identified some top drivers of MPS adoption. They include:
- Improving the consistency and reliability of print services.
- ROI/cost savings.
- Freeing up staff time currently spent on printer support.
- Proactive approach to service and support.
- Reduction in wasted paper, supplies and energy consumption.
Based on the CompTIA study, it appears MPS providers are delivering on customer expectations. Among current managed print users, a net 84 percent say they’re satisfied with their MPS experience. Top-rated attributes of managed print include:
- Consistency and reliability of service (90 percent customer satisfaction rating)
- Quality of customer service (90 percent)
- Freeing up staff time (87 percent)
- Reporting and visibility (84 percent)
- Speed of service and support (83 percent)
Given these high satisfaction levels, why haven’t more organizations embraced managed print? Again, each customer will have different reasons for the decisions they make. But there are some common factors.
Shifting any operational function – whether HR, finance or IT – from internally managed to externally managed is a decision few businesses take lightly. Embracing outsourcing may mean overcoming concerns with ROI, disruption during the hand-off, perceived loss of control and the “what if” scenario should the engagement not work out.
For customers new to the concept of managed services, a degree of basic education is typically required. While the managed services model may seem like old news in the IT channel, many customers are still in the early stages of the learning curve.
Our research also confirms the importance of selling beyond the IT department. Granted, the print function is rarely a top-of-mind concern for most line of business executives. However, securing buy-in across the organization, while more challenging that simply dealing with the IT department, is likely to result in greater long-term commitment to managed print. It also may open doors to more advanced opportunities, such as document management and business process automation.
Mobility and Print
While the mobile trend continues unabated, not all of its elements have matured at the same pace. Businesses acknowledge playing catch-up in areas such as developing mobile-optimized work flows or effectively manage BYOD security.
Mobile print falls into this category as well. A technology that has been around for some time — Apple iOS AirPrint and the Android PrinterShare app were both available in 2010 — yet has not reached mass market levels of adoption and utilization.
In the CompTIA study, 28 percent of businesses reported having mobile print capabilities in place. Among the non-adopters, 37 percent plan to add some type of mobile print capability for smartphones and tablets in the near term.
The other key trend associated with the intersection of mobility and print is in the area of print volumes. Consider two simple examples: airport boarding passes and meeting agendas. While printed boarding passes and meeting agendas still dominate, undoubtedly, smartphones and tablets have reduced print volumes in these two cases.
Overall, 21 percent of business professionals report a significant reduction in their personal print volumes due to mobile devices. CompTIA explored this same issue in a 2011 study. At that time 15 percent reported a significant reduction in print due to mobile devices. So even after an explosion of mobile device adoption during the past three years, behaviors apparently have not changed that much. Consequently, it’s tough to say how fast and to what degree mobile devices will reduce print volumes.
The topic of green IT has experienced periods of momentum, followed by lulls where interest seems to wane. Spikes in energy prices may drive demand for data center consolidation, smart building technologies and other green practices, while healthy balance sheets or perceptions of sufficient progress may diminish green as a top-of-mind issue.
While it’s difficult to gauge the exact state of green IT today, CompTIA research confirms businesses continue to embrace a range of green practices and exhibit a willingness to consider others.
Eight in 10 businesses reported the presence of paper recycling bins near print stations, a clear sign the recycling mindset is firmly embedded in the workplace. A near equal number engage in ink/toner cartridge recycling and proper disposal of devices.
Slightly more than half of businesses routinely encourage their employees to engage in environmentally friendly print practices, such as refraining from wasteful printing or utilizing duplex printing when appropriate.
These examples highlight the many intersection points between print and green IT. According to the data, a net 86 percent of businesses see a connection between print and green practices, with MPS customers significantly more likely than non-customers to understand this relationship. It’s not clear from the survey if this is a function of MPS providers doing a good job of connecting the dots for customers, or if MPS customers are generally more forward-looking and aware of the print/green IT relationship. It’s likely both are contributing factors.
Each of these areas – the less-paper office, mobility and green IT – offer new business opportunities for IT channel firms engaged in the delivery of MPS. For example, the majority of providers surveyed report offering document scanning and routing services. Slightly fewer offer workflow or business process automation services. These offerings dovetail nicely with less-paper office discussions.
Whether a business is just now embracing these practices, or looking to further refine sustainability practices already in place, MPS providers with the right combination of expertise and messaging will be best positioned to capitalize.
Lisa Person is a director of member communities for CompTIA, the non-profit association for the IT industry, and is the staff liaison to the CompTIA Managed Print Services Community. Visit www.comptia.org and www.comptia.org/communities/managed-print-services to learn more.