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MPS: What’s Ahead? MPSA Members See a Future With Choices

31 May, 2012

As the Managed Print Services industry evolves and matures a little more every day, its players face a continually shifting set of challenges and opportunities. The Managed Print Services Association (www.yourmpsa.org) has seen record growth this year as it brings value and information to help members understand and cope with the events of the marketplace. For insights into the different aspects of the dynamic MPS industry, Association members from a variety of viewpoints share thoughts on where the industry is headed.

“We’ve seen members become more attuned to the power of assessments, and to the realization that it’s not an automatic first step. We’ve seen hiring and training dueling for the title of most challenging MPS sales problem. Standards remain an elusive target, because the industry continues in such white-hot growth mode and refuses to be anything, but a fluid market,” said Joe Barganier, MPS President and Regional Director of Managed Print Services at ARC.

Continued Need for Both Standards and Flexibility
“The standardization of MPS programs or an ‘MPS industry model’ has yet to be fully formed to show a potential customer’s entering into a contract what they need for their particular environment,” noted Jim George, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of MPSA member, ProSource (www.totalprosource.com). “The juxtaposition of this is that providers of MPS have also not uncovered the perfect ‘model’ to make the service they offer profitable over time. When the ‘models’ are discovered and tested over time with great success, I believe an MPS strategy will be a must in every business.”

And the challenges are being experienced globally, although each market has its own set of circumstances that make it unique. For Australia’s SmartPrint, the biggest MPS challenge has been the infrastructure to accommodate fast growth and increased administrative processes due to running a mixed portfolio of solutions.

“Increasingly, we are seeing the love-hate relationship between ‘MPSer’s’ and ‘the makers’ – meaning the manufacturers. The makers obviously have their own MPS offerings, so they are treading lightly in order not to restrict trade, but it makes it hard for the MPS provider to tender on the same submissions. The love part comes in from ‘the makers’ upper management when and if we are successful in moving their product, with big pats on the back and a teeth grinding handshake of congratulations!” says SmartPrint (www.smartprint.net.au) Founder and CEO, Jason Glanis.

Apps Gaining More Attention
Technology has gained more attention as a tool to help MPS providers take on more business with greater accuracy and less manpower. MWA Intelligence Information (www.mwai.com) Architect and Vice President Mark McCuen states, “As an industry and as MPS players, we need to restructure our approach. Customer environments are fixed, but becoming less so, and in the near future, service technicians and account support personnel will access more data from apps for cost-effective, instant updates.”

End user organizations are quickly adopting cloud-based solutions as well. McCuen believes MPS needs to embrace the cloud structure, along with new applications because machine-to-machine communication is about accuracy, speed and getting people out of the way. “It’s the future of technology. As this model takes hold in enterprises, services based on apps will affect our industry.”

Where’s Print in All This?
“Our industry needs to understand where print is going, too,” suggests McCuen. The focus is shifting to how customers digest information. While a lot of printing is going away, many services can still be applied to companies’ business-critical information and how it is distributed and consumed.

What this means for MPS is, going forward, don’t limit proposals and services to print. He advises MPS providers to look for other services that they can manage in the enterprise.  “If you’re successful in MPS, you already have the core competencies; you just need to expand your reach,” says McCuen.
Broader Suite of Business Models
Multiple business models have popped up, with no “right one,” just the one (or more) that works best for each company. According to Dr. David Cameron, President, Cameron Consulting Group (www.ccg1.net), some of the ways MPS models today can be classified are transactional, bundled (copier channel), outsourced management, outsourced infrastructure (dealer), and office technology outsourced management. All involve value-add management of printers, copiers and part of the office infrastructure.

Another trend Cameron notes is the question of hardware relevancy. “Is there growing customer indifference? Is the differentiation between OEMs fading? Hardware has had low profitability, but has been heavily incented by OEMs, and its total impact on profitability is worth carefully considering going forward,” Cameron notes.

There’s continued interest in linking arms between MPS, MDS, MSP and MNS. The common denominator that’s not changing is the goal of managing and solving problems for customers. When MPS providers do that, no matter what the market, business model, technology or the hardware, the business comes.

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