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The Future of Managed Print Services

3 Mar, 2011 By: Jim Fitzpatrick, MPSA imageSource

The Future of Managed Print Services

The Print Industry has been with us for over 50 years, and during that time,
we have seen several major changes from both a technology and financial aspect.
First, was our switch from Analog to Digital devices, then our adoption of
Color, and Cost per Page (CPP) billing, and finally the advent of
Multifunctional devices that were cost effective enough to augment and replace
portions of the printed document fleet. While these changes seemed dramatic as
we moved and changed with them, they pale in comparison to the changes this
industry underwent during the last decade under the banner of Managed Print
Services (MPS).

MPS is arguably the first time this industry has completely switched business
models. We have moved from a “Vendor Forced” selling model, to a “Customer
Focused” consultative selling model, where we’ve even gone to the extent of
increasing the level of services that we provide to the customer, while
decreasing their overall costs. So while we have already succeeded in making the
painful adoption of MPS, and changed more over the last decade than any time in
our past, the requirement for change isn’t slowing but rather becoming a way of
life as we look to the future.

Looking to the Future

While we have meticulously mastered and grown our MPS business, now is not the
time to become complacent with our current “status-quo.” There are at least four
major factors looming, and we should start planning now to preserve our current
growth cycle and long-term profitability.

1| The Commoditization of MPS

Over the next 2–3 years, MPS will become a commodity marketplace. This will
be primarily driven by the renewal of initial MPS contracts; by more experienced
customers who will seek even lower pricing. With each new competitive contract
renewed, we will be driving our pricing bar lower and lower. Plus, add in the
continued adoption and crowding of our marketplace by more and more MPS
offerings that all seem to have the same elements.

These driving factors will commoditize the MPS industry, resulting in a more
price vs. value driven marketplace. Meaning that you must have a significant
value proposition that customers are willing to pay for, otherwise you may have
to compete purely on price.

In order to survive this ongoing commoditization, we must master the
necessary operational cost efficiencies across all areas of our business
processes, and to increase our value offering to the customer. These changes
will need to exist in everything from sales, pipeline closure time, support,
service, and all other operational and service processes. Otherwise our margins
will disappear; we’ll become uncompetitive, and be locked into an ineffective
business model that may not provide the value required.

2| Increased Sophistication within MPS

Over the next 1–2 years as the sophistication MPS marketplace continues to
evolve in innovation, integration of tools, technology and processes, it will no
longer be competitively acceptable to just monitor and provide just-in-time
services to our customers. If we are not continuously learning, adopting,
investing and reinventing our MPS offering in this area, we will not be able to
match the competitive value offering, and our current MPS offering will become
just “Table Stakes” in the marketplace.

As an example, the MPSA recently reported on two vendors that introduced new
highly integrated solutions that changed the game for providing assessments and
ongoing customer analysis and reporting. These new solutions go beyond today’s
status-quo of gathering data from remote monitoring systems, to now including
data on end-user printing habits and even page coverage for each job printed. If
we failed to adopt this change, and we’re in a competitive bid against these
newer services, would our value still be competitive?

 3|The Overall Reduction in Print

According to InfoTrends, “Understanding the Future of MPS (5/2010)”, the U.S.
consumption of printed sheets has already declined by about one-third over the
past decade. This reduction is driven by the change in the workforce, adoption
of smart portable devices, new understanding of the cost of print, and most
importantly, the e-generation who never learned the dirty habit of printing and
filing everything that crossed their desk. This trend is expected to continue
for the foreseeable future and will also serve to further shrink the overall
marketplace, forcing additional consolidation and competitiveness for the
remaining printed pages. 

4| The Cloud, and Cloud Printing

The final major factor that is just starting to take shape is the cloud, and
cloud printing, which is likely to have a major impact on MPS. Adoption of this
model will further distribute the printing environment as customers are able to
seamlessly print across totally different environments, which sends print to
areas outside the areas we manage. This is further complicated by the fact that
the Cloud Services Provider will replace several key elements of the existing
print infrastructure (print servers and desktop software) with their platform,
further confusing your overall management of the environment.

Finally, since I’m printing to the cloud, the natural customer migration
would be to have your documents and paper processes in the cloud as well. So
while it’s still evolving, understanding the cloud, the services and the
complexities that it brings to your future MPS engagements, will be critical to
your future. 

Reassess your MPS Business

Based upon these factors of change, now would be an ideal time to reassess
our current MPS offering, evaluate our core competencies, and take this
opportunity to explore different options. All of this should result in an update
to a long-term strategic business plan on MPS.

Option #1: Become a World-Class MPS Organization

The easiest path might be to develop the high levels of operational
efficiencies required across all areas of our business, making sure that we
continuously invest in and improve our tools, technologies and processes. This
will allow us to remain competitive and ensure we continue to have a value
proposition beyond our competitor’s offerings.

Option #2: Evolve into a Managed Services Provider

Another consideration would be to evolve our capabilities outside of MPS and
take on becoming a Managed Services Provider (MSP) for other IT technologies.
This would allow us to offer customers a one-stop shop for everything from
Networks to Storage to Printing. While on the surface this may seem like a
difficult change, it could be easily achieved at the start by partnering with
local MSP’s within your area that don’t offer print services.

Option #3: Evolve into Managed Document Services

Our third option would be to evolve beyond just the printed document, and to
embrace the electronic document and all of the processes that create, distribute
and store the document. According to IDC, “Controlling Today’s and Tomorrow’s
Information Costs” (January, 2011), the growth of electronic documents is
growing by 50% YOY, and is still vastly unmanaged. According to IDC,
“Organizations are paying a heavy price and need technology and services to
manage information for growth and competitive advantage.”       

Regardless of the path you choose, the key message is to understand and plan
for the future factors that will continue to drive “us MPS providers” to change.
Leverage your core capabilities and expect to further drive your business down
one of the possible paths above. While MPS is still a high growth area, and will
be entrenched in our industry for the foreseeable future, we need to start
making the incremental changes now to stay on the forefront, and to ensure our

The Managed Print Services Association (MPSA) urges you to attend ITEX 2011
in DC, where we present in the MPS Strategy Forum (session M7) “The Future of
Managed Print Services” to help you learn more about adopting your MPS business
for the future. Visit MPSA at booth #260.

Jim Fitzpatrick is the former President and current Board Member of the
MPSA. For more general information on the organization visit

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