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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