Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why Now Is The Right Time for a Managed Print Services Association

Reprint of a good article by Ed Crowley.

Ed Crowley, CEO of the Photizo Group, Thought Leaders in Managed Print Services (MPS)

During the 2009 MPS Conference in San Antonio Texas, a formation meeting will be held for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Forming an association is always a challenging, and somewhat daunting task. So why, in the midst of the current economic climate when we have so many other daunting business challenges, should we, as an industry, care about starting the MPSA?

I believe there are several good reasons for starting the MPSA. First, and foremost, our industry is in the midst of a growth explosion and the current economic environment is actually accelerating that growth. In the midst of layoffs, cost cutting, and increased environmental awareness, MPS offers customers the opportunity to reduce costs, reduce burdens on overtaxed IT personnel, and have a positive environmental impact with little to no upfront investment. At the same time, it provides MPS capable vendors with a compelling customer offering, which in return can help them retain their revenue base in the face of increasing competition and increasingly commoditized technology. This is a classic ‘win win’ scenario.
As any market grows the need for standards, development of best practices and credentialing also grows dramatically. The same is true for the MPS market. This is a market with multiple stakeholders including resellers / dealers, manufacturers, the end user community, software developers, consultants, and trainers. Each of these stakeholders will want, and has a right to have a say in the development of these standards, best practices, and credentialing.

One question that may be asked is why doesn’t another group (such as the Business Technology Association or COMPTIA) form an MPS Association. While this could be possible, I believe most of these groups have an existing constituency with their own set of pre-existing motivations, member preferences, and requirements. The MPS industry is unique in that it draws from a very broad base across the technology, reseller, and end user community. As such, I believe it would benefit from the formation of a new organization which does not have an existing charter or direction.

Already, we have been approached by the Printer Work Group (an IEEE group) regarding their interest in collaborating with the MPSA to define standards around MPS. At the same time, COMPTIA, an IT technology association has approached the group about collaboration in developing certification standards. This clearly validates the need for an association. However, from my perspective, the fact that no existing organization has taken the initiative to start this association is one more solid justification for forming a new association.

So what will happen in San Antonio? During this meeting I expect that we will have a discussion regarding the groups objectives, membership requirements, and form some committees to begin working on specific topics. This is certainly a unique opportunity to engage with many leaders in the industry and to have a voice in the formation of this group. Of course, the level of participation at the meeting will also be an indicator of the industry’s interest level and willingness to support this group. So I hope you are able to participate directly in forming the MPSA in April. If you are not able to attend in person, I do encourage you to submit your comments through this blog or through the MPS group on LinkedIn (aptly called “Managed Print Services”).

So please join us, in person, or through your electronic contributions, in the birth of a new and exciting association.
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Managed Print Services: I have the Keys to The Kingdom

I have been trying to get my head around this for the last 90 days - Why has it been challenging for some firms to engage and succeed at providing MPS?

Why are dealers trashing their young, MPS Practice?

"Struggling" as a description is too harsh, I think of the current MPS situation falls more into the "growing pains" stage.

The opportunity is real.

And there is an awful lot of activity focused on those (dealers) who are at least interested in going for MPS.

From a 10,000 foot view, you can see this in the way the "MPS Experts" are scurrying out of the woodwork - about 3 times as many as there were when the Photizo Group started.

From the trenches, I see the hurdles, see the problems and I understand the challenges - there are basically two(today).

Selling and Buying.

Selling -

For me, it is becoming clear, again, that it is all about the Sale and selling - Selling cures everything.

If you want your manager off your back, sell something. Want a new car, sell something; trip to Florida and Disney World, sell something.

If you want to penetrate the new MPS niche, sell something - and this is the rub. As we all know, MPS needs to sell to facilities, IT, end users and C-levels.

These three buying influences have their unique decision making criteria and process - they speak their own language.

Sales people who address these levels address the unique issues contained at each level and find it a challenge to switch from one to the other. Facilities works with contracts and CPC; IT with network compatibility and ease of support.

Providers/sellers of good MPS programs consist of either copier/print sales people, supplies/service vendors or IT providers. These three sales models are all very different.

For instance, the IT provider is very good at pricing, and delivery.

The selling process within most IT companies are supported by inside "account managers" and outside Business Development Managers(BDMs). The BDM's "maintain the customer relationship" as the account managers handle the quoting, and order processing on a day to day basis.

The BDMs are not hunters. The BDMs have had it gravy for a while. They zero in on the purchasing agents, try to placate or impress the IT managers and sell on price alone. Deal registration and back end rebates are just a means to selling product at 3 points.

Three POINTS.

If a BDM sells a deal at 10 points or above - he gets a ticker tape parade around the office.

I sincerely doubt any BDM in an IT service provider today even knows who the heck Glenngarry Glenn Ross is, yet own all of the Lord of the Rings movies.(not there is anything wrong with that)

A typical talk track of a BDM selling into their space may go something like this:

"Do you have an IT purchaser? Who is that?...you know, if I register you with CISCO, I can get you the lowest pricing available...Cost Per Copy? huh?...oh you mean printers, yes we can sell printers..."

I have seen this with my own eyes.


Almost as tragic is the Copier guy trying to sell to the IT influence. A typical talk track for the copier Sales Executive selling into the IT space -

"...all my machines connect to your network just like your HPs...Security? Sure, we can have your users log on to our machines using their already familiar network credentials...no, well actually, yes, we can service your HPs, until we consolidate your fleet into Ricoh...let me have you talk to my EDM specialist..."

I have seen this with my own eyes.


The second challenge I see is "Buying"-

Not a customer buying your product or services, but your executive management/ownership buy in.

Again, there is no secret here either. Change is scary, and equates to risk. Risk is bad today. We hear it from the highest office in the nation, the talking heads on cable, and the man in the street.

Unlike ownership, I have complete and total trust that good selling professionals can morph into the Hybrid Selling Professionals.

These doubts I harbor revolve around the antiquated, equipment-centric, 30 day cycle, transactional views of some dealership owners - On both the IT and Copier side.

But - today, that is to say within the last 30 days or so, I have seen the excitement swirling around MPS drive more and more dealers from the "interested" stage into the "implementation" stage.

Also, I.T. departments seem to be willing to appoint with people who talk Managed Print Services
more than they are with the technology sales executive discussing data storage, blades, etc.

It looks like "Supply" may actually need to catch up with "Demand" - not a bad place to be.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

10 Questions to Ask Yourself and your Managed Print Services Provider: From HP

Edgeline!!

3/2009

Here are ten questions that Gary Tierney, country manager, Imaging and Printing Group, Hewlett-Packard, suggests.

These are not the only questions, but they are pretty darn good ones.

I cut and pasted them here from an article the Business and Leadership site, here.

I find the last question, number 10, very interesting and question #6 illustrates a more European interest.

What do you think?

As the potential benefits of an MPS strategy grow, so too do the stakes when selecting a partner. Here is a selection of questions that enterprises should ask themselves and their MPS suppliers before signing on the dotted line:

1. Why are you considering an MPS strategy? What is your definition of success and how will you measure it?

Consider if your MPS strategy is a ‘defensive’ cost-based approach, or is it driven by wider considerations such as reducing environmental impact, generating measurable performance increases, consolidating non-core operations around a number of key suppliers, integrating operations from a recently merged business, moving to a flexible working model from a branch-based network, or perhaps preparing for future expansion?

The business rationales underpinning your MPS strategy will determine these objectives and accompanying metrics. How open is your vendor to performance-based metrics? Is it prepared to be assessed against your business priorities, whether they are based on performance, environmental impact or cost reduction, or a weighted combination of these?

2. Do your service level agreements (SLAs) and payment models make business sense – for your business, not theirs?

SLAs can provide transparency and ensure wider business objectives are being met, but only if they make sense for your business. Same-day service in the event of a printer failure may make sense in an environment where print is time-critical and where backup devices are not available. However, it would make no sense to pay for such a premium service if redundancy could be built into the system in the event of a breakdown.

The majority of MPS contracts are based on a ‘cost-per-page’ model. In this instance, it is incumbent on the user to anticipate usage volumes and patterns, and negotiate accordingly. Alternative models are possible, such as ‘cost-per-seat’ with potential charges for maintenance and support. How open is your vendor to tailoring the billing model for your business? Is the vendor prepared to impose a ‘reconciliation-based’ model involving, for example, a fixed monthly fee throughout the first year, with a revised fee based on actual usage for the following year?

3. What is your business?

Just as no two businesses are the same, neither are those organisations’ printing and digital-imaging requirements. An enterprise’s specific requirements are defined by the nature of its business. Here are a selection of considerations that will impact your enterprise print profile and, therefore, the challenge facing your eventual MPS partner:

• What volume of documents are pre-printed, printed on demand?

• What volume of documents are internal, customer-facing?

• With what frequency and regularity are documents printed; is there likely to be any pattern?

• What proportion of documents will be confidential or restricted in nature?

• Is your organisation subject to certain compliance or data-protection procedures with respect to printed material?

• Is your organisation branch-based, do your staff work flexibly (from other branch offices, from home, on client or partner premises, from hotels?)

• Where is your headquarters situated?

In reality, most organisations would struggle to even estimate the volumes and type of print required by their staff beyond the overall costs for supplies, print hardware and maintenance.

Does the MPS vendor offer a comprehensive audit procedure to enable you to evaluate and assess your requirements, or does it simply apply a generic print/cost formula to all clients?

4. What is your print profile – 3pc or 103pc?

Ink and toner represents an essential component of any cost analysis, so it is essential to understand the type of documents being printed by your staff. The difference in terms of supplies provisioning and cost can be revealing: ink/toner required for a typical letter or memo printed in black and white would cover between 3–5pc of the overall page, but that percentage could rise to 100pc for a PowerPoint and even higher if printed in colour. In addition, the make and model of the printer can also significantly impact cost-per-page figures.

Ensure that you assess your print profile before committing to a price-per-page model, for instance. Why pay for a 100pc print ratio, based on one type of printer, when the majority of print jobs will be letters or memos based on an entirely different print platform?

5. How scalable and flexible is the contract?

Will the SLAs and conditions negotiated last year still make sense in the future? What contingencies are incorporated to accommodate evolutions to your business model, mergers, acquisitions, overseas expansion, new services and flexible working models? For an MPS strategy to be genuinely beneficial, your business context must be taken into consideration.

Reputable vendors should demonstrate a knowledge and experience of your sector, and be capable of accommodating its trends and future developments within the context of your contract.

6. Is the vendor genuinely international?

The genuine benefits of MPS become evident with scale, as new markets and geographies are added to the scope. What are your potential MPS partner’s international credentials? Can it provide a list of verifiable reference customers for these areas? Can it deliver and support all aspects of the MPS contract, from leasing to onsite support, to these geographies direct or through a partner? In the case of the latter, would these partners still be subject to the same terms and conditions and measurable against the same SLAs?

Using the above criteria as a benchmark, recent reports from both Gartner and Quocirca cite just eight MPS vendors that are genuinely global, so it is certainly advisable to pose this question to your vendor before committing.

7. What about integration – it’s not always as simple as it looks. What are your MPS vendor’s technology credentials?

One of Hewlett-Packard’s current MPS clients requires us to support over 4,000 different applications based on five operating systems across its disparate office locations. Each of these requires specific driver applications to ensure full print and digital-imaging compatibility. This complexity is multiplied when we consider that the client in question operates in the banking sector, where levels of control, security and compliance remain a priority.

This context is far from unusual within the enterprise sector. Your MPS vendor must be capable of implementing and administering all aspects of the print and digital-imaging process, from application integration to individual user access. Ensure that your MPS vendor can demonstrate practical experience of these environments before signing up.

8. What about web-based applications?

Software as a service (SaaS), application service provision and ‘apps on tap’ have become mainstream for enterprise applications such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, human resources and finance. There cannot be many enterprises that have not either considered or implemented such a strategy. What are the implications of web-based applications from a printing and digital-imaging perspective, and what should you expect from your MPS vendor?

One of the advantages of web-based provisioning is flexibility and scalability – any device, at any given moment, in any location. Such benefits would be undermined if they did not extend to the print environment. A reputable MPS vendor should ensure that printing and imaging services are similarly provisioned ‘on demand’, without compromising the integrity of the documents, the security of the enterprise or agreed compliance procedures.

Will this level of service be maintained for all web-based data sources, whether they are databases, presentations, written archives, graphics, images or other applications?

9. What about environmental considerations?

MPS is not just about reducing costs. By optimising the infrastructure and ensuring the most efficient use of resources – both energy and supplies such as paper and ink/toner cartridges – MPS can also make a significant contribution to reducing organisations’ environmental impact and introduce more sustainable business practices. As firms face increasing pressure from customers, shareholders and Government to reduce their carbon footprint, this will become an even more crucial component of the MPS approach.

As part of their wider MPS offering, vendors should be able to offer an assessment that analyses customers’ printing environments to understand current energy, paper and supplies use. MPS vendors should use this information to optimise fleets, better manage output and leverage change-management expertise to help you achieve the most environmentally sustainable document solutions strategy.

10. What about mobile?

What vision and practical support can your MPS vendor offer in terms of future trends and their implications for the print environment? The most pressing of these is the increasing use of mobile devices in the decision-making process.

This trend represents a particular challenge for printing and digital imaging in terms of drivers, image format (to ensure that the end result is legible and usable) and, of course, security (particularly with the advent of wireless printing).

Make sure your MPS vendor has a clear vision regarding mobility and other technology trends to ensure it is fully supported, and not actually constrained – by the print process.


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Want more?

Reach out to me... greg@grwalters.com

InfoTrends Announces Professional and Managed Print Services Consulting Service

Managed Print Services has a new Consulting Service - From InfoTrends, no less.

"...While the MPS opportunity is certainly a strong one, it is multi-faceted and ill-defined. Numerous aspects of the office equipment and IT channels must be considered; the unique importance of hardware, software, services, and supplies must be recognized; and new skill sets and software will be required for executing on providers’ MPS visions..."
- Jon Reardon, Group Director InfoTrends’ Office Document Technology services

PRESS RELEASE:

(Weymouth, MA) March 27, 2009 . . . Despite the economic downturn, there is significant potential for growth and profitability in the managed print services (MPS) market. While the economic climate presents challenges for vendors as well as document technology customers, MPS offer relief to both sides. MPS present increased revenues and margins for vendors and lower costs for customers.

In addition, the stages of MPS engagements define a clear path for hardware vendors to realize valuable services and solutions revenue while addressing customer requirements for security and compliance, environmental sustainability, and electronic document workflow improvements. As a result, leading OEMs, channel participants, software vendors, and others are energizing their MPS program development and deployment efforts in 2009.

Jon Reardon, Group Director InfoTrends’ Office Document Technology services, commented,

“While the MPS opportunity is certainly a strong one, it is multi-faceted and ill-defined. Numerous aspects of the office equipment and IT channels must be considered; the unique importance of hardware, software, services, and supplies must be recognized; and new skill sets and software will be required for executing on providers’ MPS visions. Ultimately, only vendors that can understand these facets and map them to internal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will realize the true potential of their programs.”


InfoTrends has launched the Professional & Managed Print Services (PMPS) Consulting Service to help professionals in this market overcome challenges and take full advantage of this opportunity. This service will provide the ongoing market advice and analysis necessary to make effective short- and long-term strategy decisions. It will:

* Segment and profile the customers for managed print services
* Segment and profile vendors solutions
* Examine market size and structure
* Identify key industry players and understand their strategies
* Forecast the market managed print services by key product categories and customer segments
* Identify opportunities and strategies for technology vendors and service providers

The service features a continuous flow of information provided through forecasts, end-user studies, and other research reports and analysis, and clients benefit from ongoing, direct access to our staff of experts. For more information on this dynamic new service, please contact Scott Phinney at 781 616 2100 ext 123 or scott_phinney@infotrends.com.

InfoTrends, a Questex company, is the leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry. We provide research, analysis, forecasts, and advice to help clients understand market trends, identify opportunities, and develop strategies to grow their businesses. Additional information about InfoTrends is available on the Web at www.infotrends.com.

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D.O.T.C. impressions - The legitimacy of MPS is no longer in question. The definition of MPS is still dynamic - and for some mystifying. Where there is Mystery there is Margin.

InfoTrends recognizes the potential and is getting in - welcome to the games.

Want to know more? Check these out:

Managed Prints Services - That "Hot, New, Thing..." - Feb, 2008

Managed Print Services - Today's Lightning In a Bottle - Feb, 2009

InfoTrends - It's All About the Solution- Nov, 2008



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Friday, March 27, 2009

E-Book Reader Roundup: Samsung's Papyrus Joins the Crowd

By Priya Ganapati EmailMarch 25, 2009 | 4:57:12 PMCategories: Readers


Samsung_papyrus

Samsung's announcement that it plans to release an e-book reader called Papyrus means it is at least the seventh company to hop on the digital-book bandwagon.

With touchscreen capability and an e-ink screen, the Papyrus will cost just $300, Samsung says, making it even cheaper than the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle.

Papyrus, when it becomes available, will join an increasingly crowded field that includes the Kindle, Sony Reader, Fujitsu FLEPia, Hanlin eReader, Foxit eSlick Reader and the yet-to-be-released Plastic Logic reader. All of them are based on low-power electronic displays made by Cambridge, Massachusetts, company E Ink.

The Papyrus launch is still a few months away. Samsung is first expected to make Papyrus available in Korea this summer, says the Pocket-Lint website, with a later launch date in the United States and Britain. The device will come with a stylus for the touch screen, 512 MB of memory but no SD card slot, says Pocket-Lint.

But the Papyrus will have to struggle to stand out. Here's what the competition looks like:

Kindle_0425 Amazon Kindle

The most successful e-book reader to date, the first version of the Amazon Kindle launched in November 2007 and sold an estimated 500,000 units by the end of 2008. The Kindle got a makeover in February 2009 with a new sleeker, slimmer device that sports iPod-like curves and a metal back.

The Kindle 2 has a 6-inch display but no touchscreen. It comes with 2-GB memory that can store about 1,500 books. Other features include text-to-speech for books to be read aloud, and a basic web browser. Kindle supports text, images, mp3, doc and HTML formats. Transfer of PDF files to Kindle costs an additional 10 cents per file.

Price: $360

WIRED Good-looking design is easy on the eyes. The wireless connectivity, provided by Sprint in the U.S., makes downloading books easy — no syncing with your PC required. Amazon's retail clout ensures a wide selection of books, blogs and periodicals.

TIRED Some users have complained about the low-contrast text. The book content is shackled by DRM that makes it impossible to use on any other device you own, unless you use Amazon's Kindle application. Will display PDF files, but Amazon charges a conversion fee of 10 cents per file. No touchscreen, and keyboard-based typing can be tedious. Available in one color only.

Wired.com product review of Amazon Kindle 2.

Sony Reader

Sonyprs700bc_2 The Sony Reader was one of the earliest e-book readers, with the first version launched almost a year before Amazon Kindle 1.0 was released. So far, Sony has three versions of the Reader including one touchscreen-based model and two with keyboards.

The latest model, the Sony Reader PRS 700-BC, comes with a touchscreen and a 6-inch display. It offers 512 MB standard storage that supports about 350 books with scope for expansion using memory cards.

Price: $350 for touchscreen model

WIRED Sleek, attractive design. Choice of colors including silver, black and red. No extra charge to access or convert PDF files. Partnership with Google gives users access to about 500,000 public titles from Google Books.

TIRED No wireless connectivity requires users to be tethered to their computers to download a new book. The proprietary software used to download books from the Sony store is clunky. No browser available.

Comparison: Kindle 2 vs. Sony Reader

Iliad_0425 iRex iLiad

iRex Technologies, a spinoff from Phillips, first launched its e-book reader in 2006 and now has a second generation version of the device. Larger than the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader, the iLiad Book Edition has an 8.1-inch screen. And at 15.3 ounces it is also about 5 ounces heavier than its peers.

But the iLiad has built in Wi-Fi capability with an option for external ethernet networking. It comes with 256 MB internal flash memory, of which 128 MB is accessible to the user, and supports text, PDF, images and HTML format.

Price: $600 for iLiad Book Edition

WIRED Wi-Fi capability and USB/ethernet connectivity makes it easy to download books. Allows users to add notes and sketches to existing documents. Runs a Linux operating system that allows third-party applications to be created and run on the iLiad.

TIRED More expensive than the Kindle and the Sony Reader. Access to pulp fiction and best-sellers is limited, as the iLiad cannot download files from the Sony or Amazon book stores — for commercial books, it only supports Mobipocket files.

Ars Technica review of the iLiad

Fujitsu_flepia Fujitsu Flepia

The Fujitsu FLEPia is the first e-book reader to sport a color e-ink screen. It has an 8-inch display capable of showing up to 60,000 colors in high definition. And yet the battery life can extend up to 40 hours, says the company.

Even better, it comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support. Other features include storage via a 4-GB SD card, touchscreen and a stylus. Right now the FLEPia is on sale only in Japan, with shipping scheduled to begi April 20. Japanese FLEPia users can purchase e-books from the largest e-book online retailer in the country, says the company.

We hope it won't be long before this device comes to the U.S. and British markets.

Price: $1,025 approx. (99,750 Japanese yen)

WIRED Color screen. Wireless capability. Includes a browser and Windows Windows CE 5.0 (Japanese version) that allows email and use of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and other Office applications.

TIRED Super expensive! You probably need to get a third job to support your reading habit if this is your e-book reader.

Hanlinereaderv3_3 Hanlin eReader

The e-book reader from Chinese company Tianjin Jinke Electronics was released in 2007. Featurewise there may not be much to differentiate it from its peers. It has all the basics: a 6-inch display, 32-MB SDRAM and support for the usual text, docs and images. It runs Linux OS but has no wireless capability. The Hanlin eReader is available under different brand names, such as BeBook in Netherlands.

Price: $300

WIRED Runs a Linux-based operating system and offers an SDK so functionality can be extended.

TIRED Zero points for looks. No wireless capability to download books. Not clear how compatible it is with the Amazon or Sony e-book stores.

Foxiteslick Foxit eSlick Reader

Foxit's eSlick's price tag is probably the best thing going for it right now. The device offers features similar to the Kindle and the Sony Reader. But at 6.4 ounces, eSlick is among the lightest readers on the market and comes with internal memory of 128 MB and a 2-GB SD card, and the standard 6-inch screen.

Price: $260 promotional price. Shipping starts April 10.

WIRED Excellent PDF support — to be expected from a company that has its roots in PDF software development. Built-in MP3 player. Low price.

TIRED Yet another e-reader! Doesn't support popular e-book formats. Requires USB connection to your PC to download new titles.

Plasticlogicelectronicreadingdevice Plastic Logic

Probably the most distinct of all the e-readers, Plastic Logic is closer to a digital tabloid than a Danielle Steel paperback in its looks.

The reader is expected to measure 8.5 by 11 inches. It will be thinner than a pad of paper, but better than many of the electronic readers available currently, claims the company.

The Plastic Logic reader will support Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Adobe PDFs, newspapers, periodicals and books. It will have a gesture-based user interface and wireless capability, says the company.

The catch? The device isn't released yet.

Price: Unknown. Trials are expected to begin in the second half of the year.

Photos: Samsung Papyrus/Pocket-Lint, Amazon Kindle/Jim Merithew, iRex iLiad (xmacex/Flickr)

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Another Managed Print Services Announcement: Canon UK


In an article by Written by Fleur Doidge, at CRN, Matthew Searle, channel partner director at Canon, describe Canon's MPS approach - albeit thin on details.

Apparently, the Canon UK MPS strategy is built around it's UniFlow software.

"... uniFlow lets Canon resellers monitor and control a wider range of variables that affect print while keeping costs within bounds. Information collected can be fed through to break-fix, allowing printer fleets to be maintained well and maximise their useful life..."

“It goes right through to those who manage the print fleet on an outsourced basis,” said Searle. “Another part of our [MPS] offering is follow-me-print.”

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The release is very short on detail and has a "we do MPS too..." feel to it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

ITEX 2009 - Where did all the A3's go?



3/2009

How do you define "copier"?

My definition is, "...any output device whose design and manufacturing heritage includes walk up copy functionality, a healthy amount of copies each month and 11x17 media handling - defined in our industry as A3 devices. There was a time when to be a copier, the unit simply was not connected to a computer. Makes sense.

When I attend shows and meet people for the first time, give them my card, nine times out of ten, a smirk comes over that person's face. Soon to be followed by, "what the heck are you doing here? Don't you know everybody here sells copiers?"


Of course, somebody touting a name like "The Death of the Copier" in a ocean of "copier guys" is going to get strange looks.

The title refers to the sea-change in our and any other industry that depends (or once depended) upon paper.

The title is not to be taken literally - or should it?

Walking around the ITEX show I could not find one A3 machine(Oki, Konica, Samsung, Xerox may have had some, but I didn't get past the first pew in PagePack church) - yes, all the machines could print, yes they all had ADF's and could scan/copy.

But the A4's were everywhere.

HP for years has been telling people that less than 20% of copying is done on 11x17. Interesting.

Some studies from HP also state that the average number of images per machine, averaged using ALL machines in field, comes to around 5,000. Interesting.

Could the rest of the Office Output universe be quietly catching up or catching on?

Perhaps HP has been so quiet recently for a reason; instead of trying to change the copier industry/model, HP may just let the industry evolve to their level.

Regardless, without much fanfare - TheDeathOfTheCopier is upon us right now.

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Samsung Rolls Out Managed Print Services - Press Release

Seoul (Korea Newswire) March 25, 2009 09:20 AM --

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a leading brand in the world of consumer electronics and information technology, today announced the strategic road-map of their Managed Print Services (MPS) platform which will provide their European channel partners with the necessary management information & billing software tools to create unique MPS offerings for their customers.

“Samsung has designed this MPS platform to enable its channel partners to create customized hardware and software solutions to meet each customer’s individual business needs,” said Graham Long, Vice President of Samsung’s European Printing Operation. “This will enable our channel partners to develop more strategic relationships with their customers through ongoing service and consultancy.”

MPS offerings can help channel partners to streamline a customer’s printing infrastructure - from diagnosis and remote management to ongoing tracking of the effectiveness of the printing environment and automatic consumables ordering. As such, Samsung has developed a range of software to support this type of functionality:

· Assessment Consulting Tool (ACT): The first step towards achieving a more efficient printing environment is to diagnose how a company is currently running their printing infrastructure. Samsung’s new ACT is a USB device which can be plugged into any networked PC and automatically assess a company’s current printing environment. The ACT rapidly scans status information and IP addresses and reports on how many prints each printer and MFP has produced. The ACT has full multi-vendor capability, so is ideal for use in mixed fleet environments.

· Cost Simulation Tool (CST): After assessing the printing environment with ACT, the CST compiles data which shows how much a company’s current printing infrastructure is costing. It then runs a cost simulation to demonstrate to customers how much money they could be saving with a MPS solution. This tool helps channel partners to quickly and accurately respond to customers with data and recommendations on their printing environments.

· SyncThru™ Admin 5 device management solution: Designed to help IT managers in companies manage their printing devices, SyncThru™ Admin 5 device management solution has an easy-to-install plug-in architecture. It offers simple management with a dashboard for quick monitoring and also provides dynamic printer group summary information on machine usage and performance. The service is also customisable to allow IT managers to design alert management processes as well as personal profile setting, ensuring that they get the information that they need to effectively run their printing infrastructure.

· CounThru™ 2 Pro managed print service solution: CounThru™ 2 Pro managed print service solution is a powerful tool which allows the channel partner to remotely manage printing devices for customers and can monitor supplies and outputs from hundreds of devices in real-time. Eliminating the need for an on-site manager to oversee printing devices is especially cost-effective for partners with multiple customers in dispersed locations, such as banks and insurance companies. Channel partners can use this solution to monitor and manage an entire printer fleet for companies ranging from small-to-medium businesses to enterprises. This service compiles a clear picture of realtime printer status and consumables usage, making it an effective tool for tracking usage and allocating print spend, as well as for forecasting consumables budget and identifying printer faults.

Looking to the future, Samsung is creating an innovative, full-service offering to enable channel partners to:

· Perform an initial needs assessment
· Deliver the equipment and consumables
· Perform the repairs
· Provide the technical support
· Offer long-term tracking
· Bill on a per-page or per-seat basis
· Cover existing assets, if required, or allow existing assets to be covered by a third party

“At Samsung, we are focused on developing a successful MPS business for our channel partners,” said Graham Long. “MPS will play a vital role towards the achievement of our goal to become a leader in the printer market by 2012. The tools that we are announcing today are the foundation of our MPS offering and demonstrate our commitment to developing this further.”



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

After Starting Analysis in 2003, Boeing Finally Reduces Cost of Printing 27%

The total, world-wide roll out will be complete in 2011.

According to an article in CIO, Boeing spent "a year and a half researching different vendors. "

Boeing settled on Dell for infrastructure, Lexmark for equipment and has reduced total imaging spend from $150 to $110 million annually.

From Channel Web, back in April of 2006:

The Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker, which signed a five-year managed services deal with Boeing in 2003, said it will now add print managed services to what it does for the company.

Plans call for Dell to provide installation, repair and asset optimization for Boeing, as well as print supplies. In unveiling the deal, Dell said Lexmark would be “a key partner to Dell in delivering the printer management solution to Boeing sites."



And from another article at Red Orbit, October 2003:

In addition to the managed services contract, Boeing uses Dell enterprise hardware including desktops, workstations, notebooks, servers, storage and high performance computing clusters (HPCC).


Seems Dell may have been way ahead of this MPS/MSP thing - interesting.

Click to email me.

More Death of the Newspapers: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - OMG!


The financial and automotive industries are not enough, now they want the remaining print media(s?).

The upheaval in the newspaper publishing industry is a result of how people perceive DOCUMENTS vs INFORMATION.

This issue is an important commentary on the evolving state of the printed word- newspapers or invoices - all the same.

Reuters - Here.

U.S. bill seeks to rescue faltering newspapers
Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:05pm EDT

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat," said Senator Benjamin Cardin.

A Cardin spokesman said the bill had yet to attract any co-sponsors, but had sparked plenty of interest within the media, which has seen plunging revenues and many journalist layoffs.

Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.

Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.

Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt, and contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible.

Because newspaper profits have been falling in recent years, "no substantial loss of federal revenue" was expected under the legislation, Cardin's office said in a statement.

Cardin's office said his bill was aimed at preserving local and community newspapers, not conglomerates which may also own radio and TV stations. His bill would also let a non-profit buy newspapers owned by a conglomerate.

"We are losing our newspaper industry," Cardin said. "The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy.

Newspaper subscriptions and advertising have shrunk dramatically in the past few years as Americans have turned more and more to the Internet or television for information.

In recent months, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News, the Baltimore Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle have ceased daily publication or announced that they may have to stop publishing.

In December the Tribune Company, which owns a number of newspapers including The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times filed for bankruptcy protection.

Two newspaper chains, Gannett Co Inc and Advance Publications, on Monday announced employee furloughs. It will be the second furlough this year at Gannett.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Abbott)

(Editing by David Storey)

Click to email me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

HP Announced "Makes It Counts" Campaign for SMB and Enterprise. In Thailand.

"In Asia Pacific, HP MPS experienced strong growth, recording increased customer traction with total contract value growing by 108 percent in financial year 2008 over financial year 2007.

New MPS customers in Asia Pacific who are going to yield cost reductions in the output environment.

As a leader in Imaging & Printing industry, HP has implemented 'When Everything Counts' campaign in Thailand to address SMB and enterprise segments.

We believe that this campaign will help our customers to reduce their hidden cost and manage their printing environment efficiently in this challenging economic situation and enable longer term growth when market recovers. Customers can count on HP to help them save cost up to 30%," concluded Somchai.

"The global economic downturn has increased businesses' urgent focus on making every cent spent count. During these times, companies can count on HP to partner with them to find immediate and near-term ways to cut their operating costs. The first step toward maximizing efficiency and reducing cost is to know where to look," said Somchai Soongswang, general manager of Imaging & Printing Group, Hewlett-Packard (Thailand).

"The strong momentum in HP Managed Print Services is testament that the time is ripe for customers to turn their attention to this low-hanging fruit as an urgent cost saving opportunity today - to optimize and manage their costs and generate productivity in their output environment. Additionally, streamlining their document workflows is the next frontier for IT and business cost optimization opportunity, which will also allow for longer term growth for when the market recovers."

The complete article here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dell Managed Print Services Pilot Programs: BMC, PEQ, Digital Controls

Dell has been piloting a multi-vendor, supplies, service and remote monitoring Managed Print Services program.

They currently have three IT integrators; BMC Solutions in Kennesaw, GA, PEQ, Inc. and Digital Controls both in Miamisburg, Ohio fully boarded MPS.

It is important to point out that neither of these are traditional "copier" dealers. They are IT Consultants/Managed Service Providers.

This time last year, March Wyatt, Dell Channel Printer Account Exec, was charged with helping Dell "grow the printer business". Last Wednesday, the 18th, during the MSPmentor Live: Hot Seat webcast, she revealed that Dell has been piloting a Managed Print Services solution for some time, but the program roll out date is yet to be determined.

What is more interesting to me was that accompanying March was Peter Klanian, Senior Manager Channels Sales, to discuss Dell's recently acquired MSP Platform, SilverBack. (see, MSPs Worry As Dell Enters Market With SilverBack Deal)

I see this as yet another example of how IT will incorporate MPS within their realm - choosing to "in-source" MPS utilizing legacy remote monitoring and management platforms just like SilverBack.

Details are sketchy, but from the webinar, it sounds like the Dell MPS program will be multi-vendor supporting, allow the Dell partner "exclusivity" on "registered" opportunities and include supplies and service.

I also heard the phrase "Life Cycle Management" - an IT derived expression typically refferring to managing the sale of newer equipment(servers, PC's, laptops, etc.) - we call it "churn". And so it seems that the printers/output devices may fall into the IT purchase cycle, under MPS.

The standard take-aways were present; the authorized VAR will have complete account control, the program will provide assessment and monitoring tools, current application can recognize approximately 2,000 machines.

Granted, this was a brief introduction and very short on MPS details.

Joe asked a very good question at the close, "...what do you think the inhibators for MPS have been?"

March responded, "there seemed to have been more of a focus on aquisition costs versus the total cost of print...not looking at the whole cost..."

Peter answered, "if printing is a core part of what they do, we see success..."

More here.  And here.




Click to email me.



Sunday, March 22, 2009

Printer Market Q4 2008: News That Isn't Fit To Print


By Michele Masterson, ChannelWeb
2:35 PM EDT Mon. Mar. 16, 2009

The combined market for printers, copiers and multifunction devices continued its downward spiral in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a new report.

Once again, the sour economy is blamed for the decrease, as both the consumer and the professional market shunned purchases.

In total, combined shipments fell 5.9 percent in 2008, compared with 2.9 percent growth in 2007, researchers at Gartner said.

Worse still, analysts said they don't expect the market to recover until sometime in 2010 as economic uncertainty continues.

"The strong economic recession that is gripping the most mature markets showed its impact on the printer, copier and MFP industry in North America during the fourth quarter," Gartner said in a report released last week. "Businesses put the brakes on major purchases, a trend not likely to improve in the next several quarters."

In North America, deceleration in the professional segment of the market led to a 25.3 percent sales decline of page printers, copiers and MFPs during the quarter, as both businesses and channels slowed purchases.

Shipments of page printers declined 28.5 percent during the quarter, led by a 29.9 percent drop in monochrome devices and 23.5 percent in color units.

"Some of this volume is clearly coming under pressure from a tight economy, where typical three-year replacement cycles are being extended," Gartner noted.

Color page printer shipments have decreased for three consecutive quarters, Gartner said.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

ITEX - 09: MPS, MPS, MPS - Training, Tools, Marketing - Did I mention MPS?

Managed Print Services - Come on in the water's fine. Everybody's doing it.

Fresh back from the Vegas show, here are some of the most memorable quotes heard by me, on the floor.

"MPS is the new Black"

"We can help you service HPs and Samsung, Konica, Oki, ..."

"With MPS, you don't pursue the equipment sale you go after the clicks"

"We've been training MPS for years..."

"...it is not important who you pick to partner with, just pick one and go sell..."

"...your sales rep...won't need to do anything but run our tool, and the proposal with pricing and content, will be produced..." translation, "...with our program, any MONKEY can sell MPS..."

But, the number one, best quote of the show is...
I mean not even Xerox has the hubris to say something like this:

"...this(Managed Print) is nothing new to us, we have been doing Managed Print for 20 years. We have the lowest cost, the best infrastructure, the sales process, the commission structure, marketing programs, monitoring tools, leasing, training programs to take a dealer from no MPS to full speed, 3 million managed images, in 90 days..."

oh, really? And I have never heard of your company, because....?


Because I don't resell "knock off" toner.

Because I don't believe the price and deliver time of supplies is the primary consideration in any MPS engagement.

Because a MPS talk track should not include,

"...the cornerstone of any Managed Print Program is the quality of the print cartridge..." LOL!

Because my definition of MPS includes supplies management as component of an engagement not the total engagement.
-------

This hearkens back to the definition of MPS.

I am a believer that any "buzz" even mis-guided and inaccurate "buzz" is a good thing.

The fact that so many people are pitching MPS infrastructure and that so many potential dealers are considering moving into MPS is a very good thing.

It's A Parade of Chaos

We are all heading in the same direction for now - getting MPS programs off the ground - like a homecoming parade. Everybody knows the parade will end up at the school. But although the theme is consistent, the floats are incongruous and each band member is playing off of different sheet music.

A cacophony of colliding philosophies, programs and tools - in a word "noise".

But this movement could be bigger than the pager to cell phone movement, the postal to fax movement, the analogue to digital conversion, or the A3 to A4.

For the dealers, sorting through this will be difficult and risky - but it must be done.

Click to email me.


Is Your Product Offering Like a Cold Cup of Coffee?


I would like to introduce, another guest poster, Ken Stewart, from ChangeForge. Ken has a keen eye for customer relationships, business process, sales, from both the "copier" and "IT" perspective.

I am honored to have his work posted here.

Enjoy


It's Monday morning and you are rounding out your morning routine by getting into the office, powering up the ole' laptop, and deciding by royal proclamation, "It's time for coffee." You make your way down the hall and pass a few offices as you waive to some of your co-workers.

You make your way into the company break room and smell that wonderfully cheap smell of the corporate coffee. Not Starbucks' or Seattle's Best, but it's free, right?

You pour a slow cup while idly conversing with another corporate suit about the weekend happenings, all the while deciding which flavor of the Coffee-Mate you want to gamble on making this steely brew drinkable today.

You walk back to your office, cup in hand, and get pulled into 1 or 2 ad hoc and impromptu meetings someone just had to have you weigh in on. It might have been the Sunday's game or that latest promotion (can you believe it?), all serving to slow you return to your now-ready computer.

Sitting in your chair, place your coffee cup on your desk, and saddle up to read the morning volley of e-mail exchanges over the weekend. Suddenly, the boss needs to speak with you, steps in and closes the door (you know this is going to be a ride).

Thirty minutes later, your boss stands, shakes your hand and leaves to go on with his day. Now that you have put his mind at ease that everything is under control, you reach for your coffee, pull it to your lips, and find it cold and lifeless.

"Blehhh!", you think. "Cold corporate coffee is worthless."
So you hike back to the break room and with a flick of the wrist, wash the foul brew down the drain - only to return to the same pot to pour another cup.

Notice a few things here:
  1. The coffee is part of the routine.

  2. It needs a lot of help to perform as expected.

  3. There is no price, thus no value.

  4. There is no thought in simply discarding it should it not meet expectations.
Much like the corporate coffee, you have positioned your product to carry no intrinsic value. Have you instead all but given it away and continue to pander to your customers whims while not seeking a solution to their problems, nor empathizing with their pain?

Well then, you can expect to carry the same value as the cup of cold corporate coffee I throw away and never drink. I pay roughly $4.50 for a medium-sized latte in most establishments. Crazy or no, the point is I almost always finish the entire cup - hot or cold. Why do you think that is?
  1. The coffee is not part of a routine, but part of a ritual of enjoyment.

  2. It exceeds expectations just about every time.

  3. The price is quite high, and thus it carries a lot of value.

  4. I will work with the Barrista to make right any deficiencies - so I will leave satisfied and with a product I will enjoy.
This is simply food for thought on how you might make your product offerings better than just a cold cup of corporate coffee.

Did you have any?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Managed Print Services Association: See Your Future, Be Your Future

Evolution is a wonderful thing, even if it is inevitable. As those of us take pleasure in bantering about the "definition and re-definition of MPS" it becomes more evident that a single, unifying force, other than gravity, is called for.

Visionaries see this, critics - criticize, yet men(and women) of destiny, take action.

And so it is with the Managed Print Services Association forming with the help of the Photizo Group.

A bold endeavor to be sure, but we don't run from history, we make it.

Ed felt as though he was going out on a limb with his announcement of such a group. Indeed, in the first round of attention given to the association, on the MSP Mentor forums, arm-chair challenges and the veiled snobbery of the "intelligentsia" greeted the news.


Ed's post, Why Now Is The Right Time for a Managed Print Services Association is here.

Here is one passage I like:

"...One question that may be asked is why doesn’t another group (such as the Business Technology Association or COMPTIA) form an MPS Association. While this could be possible, I believe most of these groups have an existing constituency with their own set of pre-existing motivations, member preferences, and requirements. The MPS industry is unique in that it draws from a very broad base across the technology, reseller, and end user community. As such, I believe it would benefit from the formation of a new organization which does not have an existing charter or direction..."


...Only time will tell...

Managed Print Services to Double: Dude, Let's go to Asia.


Managed print services to double in Asia Pacific

In an article released by CIO Asia, the Asian market for MPS is predicted to be $825 million in 2011.

This according to a recent study conducted by Springboard - the study titled, "Dude, Where's My Printer - Asia Pacific Managed Print Services Market and Forecast".

Who says MPS researchers don't have a sense of humor.

The article is here.

Some excerpts:


"...In the MPS competitive landscape, HP is the clear leader with a dominant market presence in the region, followed by Fuji-Xerox, which has "leveraged its robust set of MPS offerings and a strong partner ecosystem to strengthen its regional presence," says Springboard's report.

Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) will remain as the largest MPS market in the region, cornering over 25 per cent of the market and expanding at a CAGR of 19.3 per cent to 2012. Springboard says that, while India is behind China and ASEAN in overall market size, India is forecast to be the fastest growing market a compound annual growth rate of 22.6 per cent.

"These robust growth figures indicate not just a vibrant MPS marketplace, but they also reflect the emergence of MPS as the best growth bet for the print hardware vendors in the region, who have seen a decline of hardware sales amidst the economic slowdown," said Sanchit Vir Gogia, senior research analyst for services at Springboard Research.

"Enterprises in the region are eager to test and adopt the 'next level' of printing environment, presenting the MPS vendors with a growth opportunity in a difficult economic situation," said Mr. Gogia...

"The MPS model is still in its infancy in Asia Pacific and enterprises in the region need to be educated that this is much more than an alternative print hardware purchase model," said Phil Hassey, vice president for services at Springboard Research. "The challenge for providers is to ensure they manage MPS offerings prices and offer solutions as a long-term strategy, providing immediate and successful results for enterprises."
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Click to email me.




OKI Data Americas Showcases BTA-Exclusive Color MFPs and Managed Print Service Product Line/Program Offerings at ITEX 2009


MOUNT LAUREL, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OKI Data Americas, which markets its products under the OKI® Printing Solutions brand, will unveil new BTA-exclusive color MFPs and a complete portfolio of Managed Print Service (MPS) Ready products and services to BTA dealers at 2009 Information Technology, Education and Exposition (ITEX) in Las Vegas (March 18-19).

Press Release follows. Large.

As an eight-year partner-level sponsor and charter member of the show, OKI Printing Solutions will showcase its expanded line of BTA-exclusive color MFP products, headlined by the award-winning CX3641 MFP, and educate dealers on the newly-announced MPS Ready products and services. These solutions provide an entry point for dealers considering a managed print program, or help take those already engaged to the next level, to increase profitability and develop recurring revenue streams.

In addition, OKI Printing Solutions will incorporate the company’s philanthropic program, Color Me OKI, at ITEX booth #609. This year, the booth will feature the 1950s Automotive Classic, 1959 Pink Cadillac Series 62 Convertible as part of Color Me OKI’s drive to survive breast cancer.

OKI Printing Solutions Highlights at ITEX 2009:

* View demonstrations of the newest BTA-exclusive color MFP products, including the CX2640, CX1145, CX2033 and CX2633 MFPs

* Learn how OKI Printing Solutions’ full-line of Managed Print Service Ready color and monochrome single function printers will help partners expand their MPS program offerings and increase overall hardware and consumables sales

* Attend “Capture and Workflow Solutions – Moving from Print to Scan, Owning the Electronic Document,” a presentation on Wednesday, March 18 at 11:00am with OKI Data Americas’ Steve Feldstein, Senior Product Planning Manager for color MFPs and Matthew Lonergan, Collaboration Specialist - Business Productivity, State and Local Government for Microsoft®

* View an exclusive presentation featuring rare Elvis footage few have ever seen, and meet Joe Esposito, long time friend and road manager to Elvis Presley

* Have your photo taken with 1950s Automotive Classic, 1959 Pink Cadillac Series 62 Convertible and join the Color Me OKI program’s drive to survive breast cancer

* Win the opportunity to have $1,000 donated on your behalf to the charity of your choice

“ITEX is an opportunity for OKI Printing Solutions to interact directly with our BTA dealer partners and demonstrate industry-leading solutions that will further strengthen their profit opportunities, particularly in today’s economy,” said Jackie Paralis, Senior Marketing Manager, Channel Development at OKI Data Americas.

“Further solidifying our commitment to the BTA channel and responding to what we are hearing from our dealers, we have expanded our portfolio of products and solutions to include significant new MPS offerings, giving BTA dealers even more unique ways to differentiate themselves and ensure continued business growth.”

New color MFPs being unveiled at the show include the CX2640, CX1145 and CX2033 MFPs, innovative new A3 and A4 workgroup products that further build on OKI Printing Solutions’ full line of color MFPs offered exclusively through the BTA channel. Featured alongside the CX3641 and CX2633 MFPs, these new products expand the portfolio of color MFPs for OKI Printing Solutions to offer new opportunities and applications for dealers and end users.

Attendees can take part in the many product- and solution-focused demonstrations from OKI Printing Solutions executives featured at ITEX booth #609. Further, the show’s Power Hour, entitled “Capture and Workflow Solutions – Moving from Print to Scan, Owning the Electronic Document,” will take place on Wednesday, March 18 in room N257 from 11:00am-12:15pm. Steve Feldstein, Senior Product Planning Manager for color MFPs at OKI Data Americas and Matthew Lonergan, Collaboration Specialist - Business Productivity, State and Local Government for Microsoft® will provide valuable insight to dealers regarding SMB capture solutions, with an open forum for Q&A following the session.

At ITEX booth #609, OKI Printing Solutions will also feature live music and entertainment from the Corvelles, and an exclusive presentation from Joe Esposito, long time friend and road manager to Elvis Presley. “Memories of Elvis” will feature rare footage from Elvis’ personal and professional life.

After the presentation, attendees are invited to pose with Joe Esposito in front of the 1950’s Automotive Classic, 1959 Pink Cadillac Series 62 Convertible, which is part of a fleet of vintage vehicles provided by the Color Me OKI philanthropic program, and receive a complimentary photo printed on OKI Printing Solutions’ HD color printers. For every photo taken at ITEX, OKI Data Americas will make a five dollar donation to the American Cancer Society. The vintage vehicle, owned by Stewart and Bonnie Krentzman, represents the rebuilding process women must go through when restoring their mind, body and souls after battling breast cancer.

All OKI Printing Solutions products are built on parent company OKI Data Corporation’s history of leadership and innovation in color printing. It is based on printing technologies advanced by OKI Data Corporation, such as digital LED technology and Single Pass Color™. This technology allows OKI Data Americas to manufacture products that require fewer moving parts for increased reliability.

OKI Printing Solutions products are backed by comprehensive support from authorized OKI Printing Solutions dealers. In addition, the company provides live, toll-free1 technical support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with agents based in North America.

OKI Data Americas is dedicated to being environmentally-conscious and supporting our customers' increasing focus on the environment. In support of those efforts, we offer customized printing solutions and multifunctional products that help our customers reduce their impact on the environment and increase operational efficiency.

Editor’s Note: For more information, please visit OKI Data Americas’ pressroom.

About Joe Esposito

Joe Esposito is universally recognized as the most credible source on Elvis Presley’s life and career. Esposito met Presley while serving in the Army in 1959. The two became fast friends and soon after Esposito became Presley’s road manager. As the publisher of the bestselling book, “Remember Elvis,” along with five other published works that chronicle Presley’s career, Esposito is an inextricable link to the memory of Elvis.

Whether recognized as an incredible public speaker, author, road manager or loyal friend, Joe Esposito is still in high demand for his talents and one-of-a-kind accounts of a man the nation has always referred to as “The King.” Esposito also managed shows for legendary greats such as Michael Jackson, The Bee Gees, The Carpenters and John Denver. Currently he resides in Las Vegas with his wife Martha and son Anthony.

OKI, Reg. OKI Electric Industry Co., Ltd. ENERGY STAR Reg. T.M. U.S. EPA, Single Pass Color T.M. and design Reg. T.M. OKI Data Corp., Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Channels to Managed Print Services Success


3/2009

For the past few months, I like a few of you, have been reading MPS articles over at the IT-director.com site authored by Louella Fernandes, Principal Analyst, Quocirca.

She has a great article written today that pretty much summarizes the current state and challenges of MPS.

It is a great read and I have, with permission, re-printed it here.

Enjoy -



Louella Fernandes By: Louella Fernandes, Principal Analyst, Quocirca
Published: 16th March 2009
Copyright Quocirca © 2009

Current economic pressures have put renewed focus on technology consolidation within businesses. Although often overlooked, the print environment can be a source of huge cost which can be easily be brought under control through using a managed print service (MPS).
The printer and multifunction (MFP) market is characterised by falling prices and shrinking margins. In this increasingly commoditised market, selling services is the key to capturing new revenue for both manufacturers and resellers. For customers, an MPS is a way of reducing capital investment and lowering the ongoing costs associated with inefficient printing practices, such as the cost of purchasing and storing consumables, costs related to high paper usage, as well as reduced productivity as a result of printer downtime.

Managed print services range in depth and scale and may be offered either through the reseller channel or direct by the manufacturer. An entry level MPS offers a way to purchase printers combined with supplies, maintenance and support through an all-inclusive contract. This type of service is typically offered through the channel and, dependent on their capabilities, resellers may also offer print environment assessments and device consolidation consultancy.

At the other end of the scale direct programmes from vendors like Xerox and HP offer a range of services to assess, optimise and manage the print environment. Whilst large enterprises are the focus of manufacturers' direct MPS programmes, it is the lucrative mid-market served predominantly by the channel where resellers have most to gain.

The channel opportunityDownward pressure on printer hardware prices means that resellers need to differentiate their offerings by selling more software and services. This allows resellers to add value through initiatives like offering print assessments or document workflow solutions. Entry level MPS contracts are often cost-per-page contracts where customers sign up to a contract that includes consumables, service and support. So, rather than the traditional purchasing model where a customer may purchase consumables from different suppliers, an MPS approach allows the reseller to benefit from an ongoing supplies revenue stream.

The printer market is served by a mix of traditional copier and IT-driven printer resellers. The transition to selling MPS is different for each of these. Copier resellers typically have the infrastructure in place due to the traditional financing models for copiers, often sold on "click" contracts. Whilst copier resellers have often sold via the facilities or procurement departments within organisations, an MPS offers them the opportunity to connect with the IT department. IT departments may be more familiar with certain brands such as HP, Lexmark or Samsung and also expect strong networking integration expertise.

Meanwhile printer resellers are characterised by extensive product ranges and IT expertise, but may not have the service capability or infrastructure to sell cost-per-page contracts. It is attracting these resellers to the MPS fold which is probably the most challenging for manufacturers.

Vendor channel programmesThe channel convergence taking place is a market driver for printer manufacturers, and many are actively developing their channel programmes to help their resellers navigate these often unchartered MPS waters. Unsurprisingly, vendor programmes are usually focused on managing their own devices, with inherent limitations for multi-brand resellers, but it can provide resellers with a simple and straightforward packaged service which enables them to make the switch to MPS reasonably quickly.

Many printer manufacturers are packaging their managed print service tools for the small and medium (SMB) market. Some programmes require remote monitoring for automated meter reading, which has traditionally been a manual task carried out by the customer. As well as enabling regular billing, automatic meter reading also enables supplies replenishment to be proactively managed meaning that customers can receive consumables before they notice the have run low, and before productivity is impacted. Remote monitoring also enables proactive maintenance. Ultimately MPS should make sense for any reseller that wants to enhance its customer relationships, whilst building annuity revenue streams and bringing in higher margin business.

Two of the most advanced vendor programmes are those from HP and Xerox. HP Smart Printing Services (SPS) uses the resources and skills of its HP partners to supplement its own. The SPS offering consists of two different blocks of services: break/fix support and supplies are delivered by HP under a proprietary agreement. Hardware, financing and other service elements required are delivered by the partner under a linked, but separate, contractual agreement. In the EMEA region HP is aiming for 60% growth, illustrating the importance of MPS to its channel efforts.

PagePack is Xerox's principal channel service offering in Europe, based on cost-per-page model. The contract covers hardware support, maintenance and supplies (excluding paper), 24/7 access to consumable ordering tools, Smart eSolutions (automatic meter reading) and hardware support and maintenance. It also offers Office Productivity Advisor tools which calculate document costs and it's SAVE (Self-Assessment Value Estimator) which enables resellers to promote the benefits of PagePack contracts over traditional non-contract purchasing.

Other vendors are also increasing their emphasis on managed print services for their channel partners. The Lexmark Value Print programme provides certified resellers with a range of tools, support and training to help them sell an MPS. Meanwhile Kyocera UK has launched KYOprint Pack which is an all-inclusive service that enables customers to purchase a device with all hardware, consumables, and service included. KYOprint Packs are valid for a specific number of pages, and expire when that number of pages has been printed. This is unlike some other MPS contracts where the customer is charged for a certain number of pages per month regardless of whether they are printed.
Ricoh UK launched its @Remote partner programme in Autumn 2008, and since then over 30 dealers have signed up for the programme which offers automated meter reading along with supplies management capabilities.

Multivendor managementWith many companies operating a heterogeneous printer fleet, those resellers hoping to truly exploit the opportunity of managing a customer's complete print environment must use generic print management tools which offer consistent functionality across printer brands. PrintFleet, for instance, offers a hosted and reseller-hosted remote print monitoring solution. The benefit of using this type of tool is that resellers do not need to invest time in learning and installing a range of different vendor proprietary tools.

Meanwhile, the need for resellers to be able to connect with IT decision makers as well as offer service capability has led to the emergence of the "hybrid reseller" which combines the service skills of copier resellers with the technology expertise of IT resellers.

XMA Solutions is a good example. XMA is a specialist supplier of IT hardware, supplies and services, and has been focusing on managed print services for five years with customers predominantly in the public sector and education markets. XMA offers print management consultancy such as document assessments and hardware and software deployment for a range of printer brands. XMA is also an HP Smart Printing Services partner and is actively embracing the managed print services opportunity.

When it comes to the IT infrastructure, managed services have already been accepted as the way to reduce the cost and time of managing IT in-house. Printing is as much an integral part of the IT infrastructure as other networked devices, and using a third party to manage any element of the printing environment is a start to making efficiency gains and reducing costs.

Nevertheless, there is still a significant learning curve for resellers who are yet to make the shift to a service-based approach. The MPS transition requires new skills and resources, and printer manufacturers need to nurture existing channel partnerships as well as develop new ones to compete effectively in a market where MPS is the key to reviving their fortunes.

Whilst vendor proprietary tools are certainly a good way for resellers to get started with managed print services, generic tools should also be considered by those resellers who have the resources to manage multivendor environments.


Click to email me.

A Guide to US Papers

I Culled this out of some twits from Twitter earlier today...

Guide to US newspapers


1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The New York Times is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The Washington Post is read by people who think they should run the country.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand the Washington Post. They do, however like the smog statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn’t have to leave L.A. to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t too sure who’s running the country, and don’t really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who’s running the country either, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure there is a country, or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority, feministic atheist dwarfs, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they are democrats.

10. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country, but need the baseball scores.

by Anamitra Chakladar at Sun Mar 01 05:56:43 UTC 2009 New Delhi, India

HP Smartcard Solution for US Government Recognized

Government Computer News has recognized HP and 13 other technology companies with GCN Best of FOSE Awards for 2009.

HP took home the FOSE’ Award for the Security Hardware Category.

From HP’s Enterprise Printing Blog, Mike Feldman reports,

"The HP Control Smartcard Solution for U.S. Government helps alleviate this problem and tighten security by allowing imaging and printing network authentication for government employees --- enabling them to connect, communicate and collaborate within a protected imaging and printing infrastructure."

The HP Control Smartcard Solution utilizes employee identification cards and sophisticated encryption software to authenticate and control access to print/imaging systems.

Mike goes on, "...
As government agencies continue to adopt more rigorous standards, we feel this award winning solution is indicative of HP’s mission to continuously provide our government customers with innovative technologies to help manage agency document and information workflows more effectively and securely. As one of the most prestigious awards in the public sector space, we were thrilled to represent HP and be the recipient of a very competitive category within the contest.."


GCN honors public-sector IT innovations with Best of FOSE awards
HP Wins GCN Best of FOSE Award for Security Hardware

Friday, March 13, 2009

New contract for copiers saves Lackawanna County $83,000

BY CHARLES SCHILLINGER
STAFF WRITER
Published: Thursday, March 12, 2009
Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2009 6:48 AM EDT

Lackawanna County will save $83,000 a year on copier machines, eliminating 15 of 78 copiers in county offices with a new contract approved by commissioners Wednesday.

Among the 64 departments of county government that takes up 27 buildings, there are 438 copiers, printers and fax machines, said county deputy director of purchasing Jim McLaine. But through efficiency checks and competitive bidding, he said the county is finding some savings.

The county asked for bids to replace 78 of the approximately 100 copiers the county owns or leases. Scranton-based Topp Business Solutions won the contract, which will eliminate all county-owned copiers and give county offices new, leased copiers.

Mr. McLaine said when the county bids out the remainder of the copiers, printers and fax machines, he expects there to be even more savings for the county.

“I think we’re on sound track here for the future,” he said.

The county also bid out printing of the 2009 county newsletter — but only two companies bid, and one was disqualified. Printing 70,000 copies for each edition of the quarterly county newsletter will cost the county $37,100 this year. The newsletter is funded by the hotel tax.

The bid was won by Dunmore-based Universal Printing Co.

Contact the writer: cschillinger@timesshamrock.com