Friday, January 1, 2010

Managed Print Services, Defined - DeathOfTheCopier Style

Two Decades in the making.

Managed Print Services, defined, has been an elusive seductress.

Trivial? No.

The crossing of swords, the arguments between Old Guard and Young Turk represent nothing less then a War for the Soul of an industry, our niche.

Consider this, manufacturing titans Xerox, HP, Canon, Ricoh, etc., need to, no, require, that THEY define MPS.

This definition, of course, to be in their likeness. It's called shaping the battlefield. It's survival.

There are literally billions of revenue and profit riding on this little rift. And the Big Boys are dumping millions of dollars, pounds, rupees and euro's into marketing, "research", and enterprise channel development.

Blogs disguised as industry forums.

Corporate sponsorship cloaked in dubious research studies and quadrant placements.

Press releases created in the marketing department, cut and pasted and presented as journalism, news.

"How To" classes and con-calls hosted by puppets, regurgitating the corporate playbook to a willing horde of minions.

There are two camps - one looking to the future, the other living in the past.

And here we are, you and I, stuck in the middle again.


Looking back at all the "defining moments" in MPS; the "Three Stages", the "Hybrid" approach, presented first by Photizo, then hijacked by old skool - all the manufacturer MPS programs, all the toner re-mans, service companies, computer VARs and BTA guys, they/we all have our own idea of what MPS is, our spin, our reality.

Failure appears to follow those who search outward for advice, before looking deeply into themselves - Know Thy Self.

So, here we go, the definition of Managed Print Services -

Let's start with GARTNER -

“the ability for the service provider to take primary responsibility for meeting the customer’s office printing needs, including the printing equipment, the supplies, the service and the overall management of the printer fleet."

Three mentions and variations of the word "print". Yuk, but at least the writer takes a stand.

And how about a word from Xerox:

"...MPS is an I.T.-based services offering that is enabled by technology; both Xerox and non-Xerox technology. Clients make decisions on services offerings based on credibility of the team they are working with, and the trust they can put in one firm over the other to deliver the desired results. Our people continue to shine in this competition because of their dedication, commitment and constant desire to learn and grow..."

Interesting, notice how Xerox, the traditional, mother of all document companies, refers to MPS as "an I.T. -based services..." everything else that follows is fluff and marketing.

And the Wall Street Journal

"..."managed print services," a variety of outsourcing in which the vendor takes control of the customer's production of office documents, typically owning the machines, advising on how to use them, and taking a per-page charge..."

Nice attempt; "outsourcing", "vendor", "documents", "owning the machines" - good lord, how many pigeon holes can one fit into?

Evolution Towards Defining: The DOTC MPS Ecosystem

Taped on a wall, right here next to my desk, is an 11x17 sheet of paper covered from end to end to end, with hand written ellipses, squares and arrows - my diagram of the Managed Print Services Ecosystem. (ok, how much of a MPS geek am I? ...sad really, isn't it...)

This sketch illustrates everything MPS involves and touches - and is still incomplete.

I know a more accurate and inclusive illustration requires that we don our "help me Obi Wan, you're my only hope...", 3D glasses, elevating this 2 dimensional model into the spatial, X-Y-Z Axis world.

We could then visualize The Ecosystem, The MPS Ecosystem from all angles.

Two more things - this 3D model is not static, all the parts in there are moving. And the MPS Ecosystem is always expanding, creating new worlds, destroying others.

Are you still with me or have you been amazed and stupefied? Hang on, take another sip of Jack - let's continue...

As I look at this sketch and imagine it's 3-dimensional cousin, two things dawn on me:

1 - this "MPS thing" is difficult
2 - there is no way to define it

uh-oh, what?

Indefinable. Shapeless. Amorphous.

Everything that ever was in office automation and everything that ever will be - That's MPS and it's only a DESCRIPTION.

It is my contention that all attempts at defining MPS amounts to nothing more than narrative and descriptive around how MPS works and what it does.

MPS can only be described, MPS CAN NOT BE defined.

Like the face of God, an attempt to define, to comprehend, leads to grey hair and madness. God cannot be defined. Only the results of His will can be described, remotely understood.

Managed Print Services, simply, Is.
-----------------------------------------

Anti climatic? Yes.

Liberating? Should be.

Happy New Year.

More on description vs. definition, here.




Reactions:

3 comments:

  1. Familiar with semiotics at all?

    I recall an argument by Ferdinand de Saussure about the difficulty of identifying the composite elements of a dog - as opposed to other four-legged mammals. When does a dog end and a cat begin?

    Yet you can be certain what isn't a dog. And beyond the act of conscious definition, your own instincts for what makes valid MPS (and attempts at definition) are trustworthy.

    So it goes!

    But just because I can't tell you exactly what makes a dog, I don't call it God.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Know Thyself? - Ancient Greek philosophy...

    "We could then visualize The Ecosystem, The MPS Ecosystem from all angles.

    Two more things - this 3D model is not static, all the parts in there are moving. And the MPS Ecosystem is always expanding, creating new worlds, destroying others.

    Are you still with me or have you been amazed and stupefied? Hang on, take another sip of Jack - let's continue...

    As I look at this sketch and imagine it's 3-dimensional cousin, two things dawn on me:

    1 - this "MPS thing" is difficult
    2 - there is no way to define it

    uh-oh, what?

    Indefinable. Shapeless. Amorphous."

    In the vein of chaos theory. What you are essentially saying is that MPS is in fact a living fractal pattern?

    LOL!

    If two guys were to talk about MPS in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead concert this is what it would have sounded like.

    Great Read Greg!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Am I the only one that believes that MPS can be defined? And that anyone who has been in the industry actually knows the definition, but they refuse to accept it since it doesn't match the "force fit hardware sales" that is occurring in most "print services" deals.

    Note: You don't see the word "Managed" in the above "print services" since that is still outside the grasp of most of the MPS Vendors.

    ReplyDelete