Log in

Industry News

Was Managed Print always destined to be part of Managed Services?

4 Feb, 2014 By: Ron Harris

Right now there is a huge movement in the outsourced IT space from a break fix model to managed services.  Most IT VARs have become MSPs and almost every MSP I talk too is looking to become a one stop shop for all IT services, managing the entire network. Document output is part of the network and at some point in the near future all document output and document management will be managed as part of IT. 

How do I know this?  When it comes to managed print and managed services, I consider myself somewhat of an underground expert; my company is at the forefront of this migration. I’m the CEO of Docuwise a hybrid managed print solutions provider and MPS-RMM platform. 

Managed services market is expected to grow from $142.75 billion in 2013 to $256.05 billion by 2018, at a CAGR of 12.4% from 2013 to 2018. Xerox has announced an integration to be launched in 2014 with the RMM platform LabTech, and Docuwise in early 2014 is launching its software integration with Kaseya, the largest RMM platform in the market, a follow-up to the 2013 Docuwise-Level Platforms (AVG) integration.  Managed Print and Managed IT are becoming a single solution.

After developing and implementing hundreds of MPS solutions in the printer/copier industry and for managed service providers, I understand all sides of the MPS/MSP equation and a big sea change is coming. Managed Print and Managed IT are not so different; however the players vying for position in this thriving marketplace are quite distinct. There is the OEM combining hardware, consumables, service and finance into a single solution, an aftermarket of independent resellers selling printer and IT consumables, components and service and Managed Service Providers (MSPs). 

For the last couple years the IT side has been going through an MPS education cycle and MSPs are now starting to understand how much profit is to be made by selling document output products and services.  MSPs that already manage the network are starting to grasp the importance of managing the printers and not just for the sake of profit, but to create a long-term satisfied customer. With an OEM neutral solution, that includes automatic consumable fulfillment, on-site service, an MSP can sell any brand of MFP as hardware replacement, manage the entire document output environment and continue moving towards a recurring revenue model.  The document output portion of the network is quickly becoming a point of competition and integrations between Managed Print Solution Providers and RMM platforms will close the gap. Not only do MSPs now have a single pane of glass for managing the entire network, including the printers, but so do their competitors from the printer side. A company who has been doing MPS can now more easily continue managing the document output environment and make the transition into managed services. There is a steep learning curve involved with this transition; however many will accomplished this transition through partnerships, mergers and acquisitions.

It is very easy to understand how OEMs put together MPS programs which include their own hardware. Through MPS the OEM become solution providers and have been very successful with MPS at the enterprise level. This type of solution is perfect for any company, especially large corporations looking to standardize, consolidate, manage or control their entire print environment. However with the introduction of MFPs high quality production hardware is now affordable enough to purchase without a lease.  The Copier OEM have also been successful selling hardware through its dealer channel to the SMB marketplace, however in order to manage the entire document output environment they need an MPS strategy that doesn’t force them to service their competitor’s hardware and sell different brands of aftermarket consumables, especially since the OEM have been at war with the aftermarket over consumable sales for years. 

For the document output aftermarket resellers who sell replacement products, e.g., toner, parts, on-site service - to mostly small and medium size businesses, managed print services is a much more difficult path. The document output aftermarket understands the profit from print consumable sales, but these are typically non-technical resellers who do not focus on selling solutions and there is little opportunity for their vendors and distributors to help or participate.  Some distributors have tried to use monitoring software as an incentive to buy their products but typically resellers buy from multiple vendors based on price, quality, inventory and logistics; they don’t want to or are unable to use just one vendor or distributor. So in this scenario it is hard offer a complete MPS solution that includes the technology and all the services needed to automate the MPS process. As a true MPS provider you must deliver a full solution, but this means you are no longer just a distributor selling products.  Moving from a distributor to a solution provider is a total change in the business model and with this change there are certain inherent conflicts such as, your new solution may include products or services that now in some way compete with your resellers. Most important is your resellers must, in addition to selling your products and services, sell your products and services in the form of a packaged solution. The situation is similar for independent IT product resellers.

Selling a commoditized product is now more difficult than it has ever been, but selling commoditized products in a solution package is seamless, a solution that is unique and specific to a customer’s needs that locks in the customer and insures recurring revenue. Look, we all know no solution is perfect, but selling supplies as commodities is a dying art, it may not ever go away entirely but in the future the company who delivers a total solution that covers the entire network including the printers and copiers will win this battle. 

By looking at the similarities in the prominent industry definitions of Managed Print Services and Managed Services most will begin to see that MPS was always meant to be part of Managed Services.

Wikipedia - Managed Print Services is the active management and optimization of document output devices and related business processes.

Gartner - Managed Print Services (MPS) are services offered by an external provider to optimize or manage a company’s document output. The main components provided are needs assessment, selective or general replacement of hardware, and the service, parts and supplies needed to operate the new and/or existing hardware (including existing third-party equipment if this is required by the customer). The provider also tracks how the printer, fax, copier and MFP fleet is being used, the problems, and the user’s satisfaction.

Webopedia - Managed Print Service is a service offered by printer manufacturers that is designed to assist the business end-user to streamline management and minimize costs associated with printing and imaging. Managed Print Services like the one offered by HP or Xerox can help to cut ownership costs, enhance productivity and reduce energy consumption.

When you use a Managed Print Service, the company will provide professionals that work with you’re the business to assist in the design, implementation and also assist with managing an imaging and printing infrastructure that is tailored to your specific business requirements. Also called Printer Management Services.

Xerox - Managed Print Service.  What is "managed print services" (MPS)?  The managed print services definition is broad, but the end result is simple: gaining visibility and control of your printing, which helps you save money and boost productivity. Managed print also helps you improve environmental sustainability and document security.

Wikipedia -Managed services is the practice of outsourcing day-to-day management responsibilities as a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses. This can include outsourcing HR-activities, Production Support and lifecycle build/maintenance activities. The person or organization that owns or has direct oversight of the organization or system being managed is referred to as the offer-er, client or customer. The person or organization that accepts and provides the managed service is regarded as the service provider or MSP.

PC Magazine-Managed services  is an umbrella term for third-party monitoring and maintaining of computers, networks and software. The actual equipment may be in-house or at the third-party's facilities, but the "managed" implies an ongoing effort; for example, making sure the equipment is running at a certain quality level or keeping the software up-to-date.

Summary:  Managed Print Services as well as Managed IT Services are solutions that both include hardware, software, products and IT services. They both utilize remote monitoring and device management. Both Managed IT Services and Managed Print Services are similar in the way they are sold and implemented. Both include on-site service.  MPS has more of a continual hands-on product sales element through consumable sales that can be managed by software and alerts, and generates more recurring revenues. Ultimately, both Managed IT and Managed Print are business services designed to save the end-user time & money, and allow them to concentrate on their core business. The bottom-line is Managed IT and Managed Print are converging, and the IT side is moving to Managed Print and the print side is moving to Managed IT. So if you were going to pick an ultimate winner in this battle, who would it be?  The OEM?  The Document Output Aftermarket Reseller (VAR)?  Or the MSP? 

Ron Harris is CEO of Docuwise. For detailed company information visit www.docuwise.net/ or email Ron at http://rharris@docuwise.net

About the Author: Ron Harris

Add Comment

WebinarCase Studies and White PapersSand Exchange Blog

imageSource Magazine Quick Links
Upcoming Events
ITEX Expo & Conference
©2015 Questex, LLC. All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited
Please send any technical comments or questions to our webmaster