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New Options Support Clients by Sustaining the Managed Print Services Industry – and the Environment

3 Mar, 2014 By: Jordan Darragh

On a daily basis, managed print services (MPS) dealers are challenged to offer their customers new and innovative services. The good news: Cloud services are bringing a truly new offering to revitalize print services and satisfy a “triple bottom line” business model that serves people, planet and prosperity.

Alongside the need to offer excellent technological tools, the MPS industry faces constant pronouncements of a decline in print volumes across the industry. Competition and commoditization squeeze margin out of every page, placing more financial pressure on the independent dealer. Additionally, customers increasingly ask dealers to provide authentic and innovative means to promote sustainable business practices and reduce the environmental impacts that can result from printing.

Fortunately, dealers have an opportunity to allow customers to enjoy the advantages of print while also being confident that they are being environmentally responsible, thanks to new services at the intersection of managed print and sustainability. Cloud-based reforestation is one of those services—using the automatic transmission of device and fleet data to provide end users with another way to help neutralize paper waste, improve efficiency and certifiably participate in sustaining our global forests. For the first time, this service will be available to dealers in March 2014, via the PrintReleaf Exchange (PRX).

Here’s how it works with the triple bottom line model. With respect to “people,” the scale of reforestation through partner projects requires significant labor, which means new job creation. With respect to “planet,” the collective planting of new forests at significant scale has a meaningful impact on the environment, even beyond the replenishing of paper supplies, in air quality, biodiversity and beyond. And in terms of “prosperity,” this exciting new opportunity represents a net new revenue stream and increased profit per page now and into the future.

From Tree Negative to Tree Neutral—and Profit Positive

Over the last century, approximately 5 billion acres of land have been deforested or degraded, in part due to paper manufacturing and consumption (tree harvesting), according to the World Resources Institute. In response, consumers and MPS customers have sought to minimize paper printing—but we can’t, and arguably shouldn’t, seek to eliminate paper completely. Rather, the question is how to minimize the negative impacts of paper usage. Historically, print services have operated on a tree-negative basis, meaning they use paper resources (trees) more quickly than those resources are replenished. Contemporary customers have a growing consciousness of the need to conserve resources, and becoming “tree neutral” or even “tree positive” (planting more trees than are used) is the logical answer. As this attitude has evolved, the need has arisen to institute standards for sustainable paper consumption.

One company, PrintReleaf, is the first to create a global standard for sustainability in the MPS industry. (The PrintReleaf Exchange Standard for Global Reforestation Partner Certification is available.) Launching in March 2014, the PrintReleaf Exchange (PRX) is the first known technology platform that measures a customer’s paper consumption and connects them directly to reforestation projects. The patent-pending technology not only measures consumption, but also tracks its reforestation partners to ensure fulfillment. This standard certifies (guarantees) every sheet of paper a customer consumes will be reforested at a generally accepted rate of 8,333 sheets of standard letter (8.5 x 11” x 20lb paper) per tree (40ft height x 7 in width).

Turning Sustainability Into Profit

Formerly, dealers may have seen consumer demands for sustainability in print as presenting additional pressure and increased cost. In the past, this may have been true—but today, we can in fact create opportunities to grow business with more pages under management, ultimately building customer loyalty and improving the bottom line.

The PRX concept and standard are available to all stakeholders in the MPS industry: OEMs, dealers, customers and the environment. This new concept offers an array of features that appeal to OEMs and dealers on a financial basis, enhance the value of print products for customers, and benefit the environment by replacing paper that is used. The current value proposition includes:

•             New revenue streams:  OEMs and dealers can become authorized channel partners on a wholesale cost per page basis. In turn, channel partners can market the service to their customers, representing an upsell opportunity. Existing customers may opt-in to the re-foresting opportunity and—for an additional fraction of a cent per page—have the confidence that every page they use will be reforested. For new customers, the reforesting opportunity can be positioned to build or blend into the proposed cost per page. Ultimately, the option represents a net new revenue stream for channel partners as well as a new source of reforestation for the global environment.

•             Personalized reforestation options:  To enhance the value proposition further, customers have freedom to choose where they want to plant their trees. From their online portal, customers can select from certified reforestation projects in areas facing significant deforestation or environmental degradation—in other words, where the planet needs trees most. Within their online portal, customers can track the evolution, growth, and survival of their trees—their forest—over an approximate 10-year time frame for each tree. A leading international forestry audit company, SGS International, provides third-party verification.

•             Marketing opportunities:  Social media can add value for the reputations of customers and channel partners. Customers can connect their account to Twitter and Facebook to automatically tweet or post their participation in sustainable business practices through their OEM or dealer. This amounts to additional, positive marketing for the OEM or dealer in partnership with their customer.

The technological and social connectivity of channel partners and their customers with the environment equates to a “win/win.” Channel partners meet customer demand for emerging sustainability solutions while improving their profit per page. Customers reduce their environmental impact for a very affordable price while leveraging the value of social media to promote their participation in transparent and authentic sustainable business practices.

Looking at the big picture, these kinds of innovative cloud services can provide a sustainable path forward for the MPS industry and the environment. Yes, customers will always be interested in finding new means to digitize their paper-dependent workflows and reduce their paper footprint and thus, their environmental impact. However, by neutralizing the impact on our global forestry system, we can unlock an infinite cycle for paper, and for those industries that are dependent on paper as the primary medium, to sustain.

Jordan Darragh is the founder and CEO of PrintReleaf, provider of The PrintReleaf Exchange [PRX], a cloud-based program that converts paper consumption into trees. Reach him at JDarragh@printreleaf.com or 303-419-4463.

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