MPS: Channeling the OpportunityBy Alison Diana | Print
Managed print services keep margins strong and customers front-and-center for VARs, and Xerox and HP have recently both announced new investments in their MPS organizations.
Channeling the Opportunity
Just as all industries use printers and copiers, solution providers of all sizes and areas of expertise are embracing the MPS opportunity. Some are expanding their service practices, building on their knowledge of managed services in security, storage or networking to add managed print capabilities, vendor executives said.
Others are vertical-market VARs who integrate their knowledge of specific industries with managed print, experts said. AUXILIO, for example, specializes in providing MPS to healthcare providers. The Mission Viejo, Calif.-based service provider recently inked a five-year MPS contract with MemorialCare [A1] Health System in Southern California and renewed a five-year deal with Saint Barnabas Health Care System in New Jersey.
Solution providers naturally can extend MPS into other disciplines such as workflow and document imaging. "That’s the ultimate goal of MPS: To eliminate all hard copy and streamline data," said Barganier.
No matter how natural the fit, however, entering a new market requires that solution providers invest in the resources necessary to sell and support the service. Many printer vendors have created programs and tools designed to minimize some of that investment of time and money, by allowing partners to tap their software and services.
Samsung only sells its MPS contracts through reseller partners, which can offer services in a variety of complexities ranging from basic cost per page to more in-depth services including print assessment, on-site support, help desk, maintenance, and statistical usage reports. Samsung’s CounThru 2 Pro [A2] managed print solution enables remote management, and the vendor’s Cost Simulation Tool is designed to help partners speedily deliver accurate MPS bid proposals. The Assessment Consulting Tool gathers and analyzes data from networked printers and multi-function devices, which solution providers then can use to save customers’ money and energy.
Samsung’s approach to the market centers on partnering—with manufacturers, with distributors, and with all types of channel businesses ranging from office superstores to VARs, Peter Richardson, channel and product marketing manager at Samsung, told Channel Insider.
"We directly partner at the manufacturer level with the industry-leading technology behind managed print services, at a development level. That way we don’t have to drive anyone to our home-baked solution. We look at not hosting, not being Xerox and not being what HP is moving towards because that leads us down to the road to direct," said Richardson. "There are so many things that go into managed print services that you have to build yourself or partner. You have to buy or partner. That’s just the business."
Rather than developing its own print-management and assessment software, Samsung—as well as other printer and copier makers including Kyocera, HP, Minolta and Xerox—partner with PrintFleet. Samsung, and many leading output makers, also work with FMAudit, a developer of print assessment, remote meter, supply and service data applications, for example.
Although it works with third-party products, Xerox also internally created solutions designed to equip its partners to best-serve midsize customers, said Gall. Xerox PagePack integrates with various third-party billing, ticketing and device monitoring back-office applications, and features a plug-in with Great America Leasing designed to save partners time and, therefore, money, he said.
"It helps people get more familiar with leasing, and that helps their business. It gets them oriented and helps them. We have a host of folks whose job is to get partners up and running and successful at print. There’s learning that you have to help people with, and that’s really, really important," said Gall.
Likewise, HP aims to reduce much of the complexity and time-consuming nature often associated with printer maintenance through its MPS programs. Although a small percentage of its MPS sales are direct, the vast majority go through HP’s channel, said Dunsire. And the company’s recent Printelligent acquisition will only swell that number, he said.
"This is channel-managed print. This is not direct. I want to be clear about that. We do have a direct managed print program in our enterprise accounts. These are Fortune 100, Fortune 200. Printelligent actually helps us in that midmarket space," Dunsire said. "You can build your managed print services from the ground up. You can take the enterprise space and repackage or you can go out and acquire the services, resources, and intellectual property to get it out faster. It allows us to get it out to market faster with the service network."