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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

HP, Xerox, Ricoh and Dell: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Remote Monitoring Ricoh announced it a few weeks ago... Managed Service Providers are wondering when HP will make it so... Xerox has been writing to open APIs... Dell has been running a pilot program for months... What gives and why should we care? The buzz is, well, buzzing - MPS is the new black. Everybody wants in, and those who are already there "have been there for decades" - sure. Chaos abounds. We all stumble through this hall of mirrors trying to settle on the best working business model. But as we run around gathering information, deciding on what assessment tools to use, whose labor cost to utilize, commission structures, etc. the big IT companies or should I say the big IT office systems companies, are about to blindside us. How? By taking the assessment stage and remote monitoring function out of our channel and placing them into the hands of already paying customers. Well let's back up a bit - first off, let's look at remote monitoring in our industry. Today's monitoring software easily allows meters to be read, fault notifications to be sent, toner ordered and proactive service calls to be generated. The more popular systems collect ALL your client's usage information and report this data back to a server. I remember one of the big stumbling blocks for Ricoh's @Remote was the fact that it sees not just the Ricoh systems but all the HPs, Canon, Konica's, etc., and sends all this information back to the server - in Japan. This is not such a big issue anymore. For the dealer, handling monthly meter reads is enough reason to install software on every account. Remote monitoring in the IT universe - Systems like IBMs Tivoli, monitor and control power, network traffic, software updates, network switches, servers, heat, etc. An IT director can not only monitor the power usage, but he can actively manage those devices; shutting them down, installing software, or rebooting. "...if only there was a way for me(Mr. IT Director) to monitor not only the power consumption for my server farm but also for my fleet of 500 output devices..." ------ So what's the harm? The threat is this, as the big "manufactures" HP, Ricoh, Xerox, etc. work directly with corporate IT, they will simply add the capability of the IT department to manage their existing output devices as they already manage their servers, workstations, switches and software upgrades - through the legacy monitoring software. Without the need to utilize a dealer for anything more than fulfillment - order taking. The key point here - is without...

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  1. Konica Minolta has a similar offering. Vcare, Remote monitoring marketed as meter collection.

    Some Manufactures understand the next phase, some don't.

    "Business Intelligence" - Being so integrated into a customer that you know before they know about themselves. Next thing to knock MPS off the pedestal.

  2. ah yes...Business Intelligence.

    Very good.

    I understand and concur although, if MPS providers can adopt into Business Intelligence...

  3. Guys, here's the point of MPS... outsourcing not in-sourcing... Technology will replace us all one day, but for the time being the value proposition of MPS is to outsource the burden of managing the thing an IT guy hates the most: printing devices.

    BI, for the record is bigger than "knowing before they know about it themselves," although predictive logic is certainly playing into this. However, be careful when treading here because many BI models are based around using past statistics to predict future certainty. BI's real power is in adaptive algorithms to anticipate uncertain futures given multiple facets of data...

    Let's face it - printing just isn't that important. With the cost of printers cheaper than ever before - I design failover strategies based around best effort redirection during a device outage. This allows me to have a lower cost in my service levels because I have on-site, and instant failover reducing the need for escalated on-site service.

    Sorry to burst your bubble.

  4. Maybe it's not out vs in sourcing. But something like right sourcing. Print what you need where you need it when you need it.

    The model might be 1 to 10 desktop/workgroup printer, 10 to 100 workgroup printer, 100 to 500 CRD printer, and over 500 to a commercial printer.

    I think the opportunity is for MPS to connect with up the commercial print world to help manage Print - the process that gets no respect - but has to be done everyday.

    Once the commercial print piece is added, the conversation moves away from IT and to increasing the efficiency of the overall Print budget.

  5. I don't believe that any of those companies has the right to be involved in any of their customers systems. It seems very invasive, and reminds me of the new ideas that Google has talked about. One of those ideas is for Google to be able to listen directly into your home and if a dog is heard barking, then a dog food ad would pop up on your screen. This is not right in any way. Regardless of whether they utilize a robotic-natural algorithm, many corporations are labeling these invasive activities as personalization. I see no reason for Google to make specific advertisements for me, when I don't click them anyway. I think this is just one more step closer to the total loss of privacy.


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