Thursday, August 21, 2014

Managed Print Services vs. Managed Services Providers


A Day at #CompTIA: 8/2014


It was billed as the "great debate."

On one side, "Managed Service Providers(MSP's) Should Get into Managed Print Services", on the other, "MSPs Shouldn't Bother." I didn’t get the hype - maybe because I’ve done it from front and behind - saved an MpS practice inside a VAR/MSP and created an MSP within a copier dealer.

Still I was intrigued...

From the imaging side, I believe if you can create and run a profitable MpS practice, you can handle an MSP.
I thought to myself, "Maybe there was something to this…perhaps the MSPs in the room DO want to learn more about MpS and are thinking about getting into the realm." I started to pay attention.
From the IT side, I’ve felt adding printers to a screen in your NOC is no big deal; I’ve done it, you can too. Indeed, in the beginning, I wrote about how we on this side should beware the possible invasion of our little niche by all those independent VARs.

It didn’t happen that way, did it?

Why So Crowded?

Based on the number of people in the room, it was apparent others were interested in this subject. For a managed print services meeting at a computer convention, there were more people than I had anticipated. I thought to myself, "Maybe there was something to this. Perhaps MSPs want to learn more about MpS and are thinking about getting into the realm."

WRONG. DEAD WRONG.

"...a Konica technician asked my customer how they were handling IT..." with a waive of his hand he dismissed a meager attempt to take HIS customer. 
The debate attracted a cadre of MSPs more to support their MSP leader, less to explore the possibilities. Like every VAR/IT/MSP/ITOEM I’ve ever talked with about managed print services, their mind was made up. Anything to do with printing "is below them” and getting into MPS would be “a step backward”.

Yes, those are quotes and here are some other talk tracks uttered by the MSP dude:
"Not going to add to my already full plate of vendors…"
"The market is not that big…"
"My customers are reducing print, why would I get into a diminishing market…"
"I don't like printers. Should I be selling huge systems or filling a 'toner quota' - thanks HP…"
Have you ever been to an event or party and at some point, realize you're not in the right place.  Sure, you've received an invitation, but you feel completely outside the discourse.  Not because the conversation is over your head, more due to a crystallized moment in time when you can clearly see everyone else off on their own voyage - apart from you.

Well, that's the flavor of epiphany I experienced - that and a bit of deja vu.

These IT guys just do not like printers and think copier folks can't compete with their real computer expertise.  One MSP mentioned how "...a Konica technician asked my customer how they were handling IT..." with a waive of his hand he dismissed a meager attempt to take HIS customer.

"How drole..."

They do not respect printers and the people who derive a living from this industry.  If you think about it deeply, you know what I say is true.  Seasoned MPS reps are numb to IT people talking down to us but it is there...always has been.

I am done trying evangalizing to the IT community about managed print services for three, basic reasons:

1. They are too prideful (snobs)
2. Print is declining
3. The IT/VAR/MSP niche will decline FASTER than office print
Call Great America, today or buy out one of the smaller MSPs in your neighborhood.Today. Now. Stop fooling around. This is one of those cases that supports the, "go out and sell it now, we'll figure the rest out tomorrow."
Pride goeth before...

Sure, there will be a few VARs/IT/MSP organizations who dabble in MPS if HP takes the deal and the paper, but for the most part, they are not going to deploy an ‘engineer’ into the field to clear a jam. This is a cost and emotional issue.

Going, going...

Dave Ramos, a colleague and friend, presented interesting findings about print decline, sighting one of our favorite slides from International Paper and linking the latest paper plant closing in Alabama. A4 paper is in such decline IP had to close a plant whose primary output was 8x11 - this one location supplied 8% of office sized paper.

They've Got Their Own Kettle of Fish...

Here's the big reason - the IT world is going through a much bigger transformation then we are. The 'cloud' represents a move away from hardware - Zero Client and IAAS both support the realization that organizations DO NOT NEED HARDWARE-CENTRIC VALUE ADD. Today's IT providers are blind to this and in no position to adapt. The biggest shift is going to be elimination and evacuation. For example, their talking about 'moving to a service based' business model with 'recurring revenue streams' as though they've just heard of it.

Don't expect to see copier techs badged up by your local MSP anytime soon. Their not coming to the MPS party.  Just like retail computer stores dissolved overnight, so too, will your trusty down the street VAR/MSP.

Bottom Line...

What about you, the copier dealer, the toner supplier and the printer organization? Think of it this way, managed print services manages the decline in print, managed services helps customers manage down their dependence on local servers, software, hardware and the people(local) who provide value-add.

Now is the time to get into managed services - low barrier of entry and distracted fragmented competitors. Don't over study. Forget about heavy evaluation.

Call Great America, today or buy out one of the smaller MSPs in your neighborhood.

Today. Now. Stop fooling around. This is one of those cases that supports the, "go out and sell it now, we'll figure the rest out tomorrow."

One more thing...

Forget about getting all your reps trained on "IT Services", like its different from managed print services - well, I should say, the offering is different, but the approach is similar.  There are too many managed services sales experts who have never sold, proposed or closed a complex, all inclusive engagement.

The outsiders from the IT realm coming into the copier world don't get us, they've hired the wrong 'advisors' to help them grow their share of our wallet and some are increasing their value for the next round of VC or prospective buyer.

Go out there and learn it the best way - in front of prospects.

Your reps don't need some other guy's super-secret-sauce and you shouldn't measure yourself against somebody else's benchmarks

Get out there and solve.

If you need help, reach out to me.


Revenge Of The Nerds (Bobby C Sound TV remix) from Bobby C Sound TV on Vimeo.

It's funny, no?
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