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Friday, August 28, 2009

A Year Ago Was The Right Time For Managed Print Services

Where is the Managed Print Services niche, today, August 2009? ------ I just read an interesting comment on LinkedIn regarding the lack of "buzz" around the MPS Summit from the recent ReCharger show. Bob Chernisky was asking aloud, "Did anyone attend? Did no one say anything worthwhile? Was the juxtaposition of MPS with toner remanufacturing a mistake? Are most of the prime-movers of the industry turned off by that association (too low-tech for us)?" I know people attended, but I did not. I do not think the juxtaposition is a mistake. And if the "prime-movers or any movers, think the toner guys are too low-tech, so what? 

To speak directly about the Re-Chargers, I think they should worry as business paradigms shift to MPS. I also think that this shift could be a great opportunity for the bold. For the forward-thinking companies who are willing to remake their current business model. The reman's can be a component of a good MPS practice; one of the team. Right now, there aren't as many devices hitting the streets. These older machines, the ones finding a spot on new, MPS engagements, will need toner and parts. And entering this niche may give them a better talk track than the current "we're cheaper and we're Green..." But back to Bob's questions, where is all the buzz? 

Come to think of it, the last few weeks have been a bit quiet. Especially considering all of the announcements - the big HP guarantee, PagePack 3.0, Okidata Managed Print, the MPSA national elections. ;-) The recent Gartner data showing combined copier and MFP sales fell 30% over the past year should be center stage and all the buzz - but if I read one more post, article, or Tweet about the Magic Quadrant, I am going to upchuck. 

 Maybe it's just that people don't want to talk about bad news. Well, boo-frickin-who - where there is turmoil, chaos, and fear, there is opportunity. The Bad News: Lai-Ling Lam, senior research analyst at Gartner said this,

"The market witnessed a weak demand as both businesses and consumers reduced spending and the drop in shipments was also impacted by tighter inventory controls in order to minimize inventory levels in the channels.."
Dire news to be sure, and nothing terribly new for any of us selling in the office B2B. Unfortunately, it's worse than we think; it usually is... Our bread and butter, office printing devices, showed a 24.5 percent decrease in the first half of 2009.

"...businesses are delaying or eliminating purchases of new equipment altogether. The global downturn has also forced them to review their printing needs which could change their print consumption in the long term. At the same time, it also makes print vendors increasingly look at alternative hardware strategies such as managed print service (MPS) and smart MFP adoption as ways to increase revenue..." added Lam.

We in the MPS world, recognize this 30% avalanche as a huge opportunity - a huge MPS opportunity. I understand where Ms. Lam is coming from and I take exception to her above statement, "print vendors increasingly look at alternative hardware strategies such as ways to increase revenue...". Successful Managed Print Services strategies should not be hardware driven - an assessment looks for areas of cost reduction, not hardware placement. 

Why So Quiet - Maybe there isn't as much 'buzz' from the MPS niche because we in it are actually doing it, day in and day out. And by we, I mean we selling, infrastructure, marketing, branding, research, and MPS training types. Perhaps we are all on the same spot in the MPS Adoption Cycle - execution(or re-execution) and it is now more important to operate the practice versus talk about the practice. That 30% deficit is a hole waiting to be filled with MPS services, not equipment. 

A boon for us, a boardroom challenge for the big manufacturers. The Silence of Activity - humming along.


  1. "Successful Managed Print Services strategies should not be hardware driven - an assessment looks for areas of cost reduction, not hardware placement."

    Is'nt this exactly what some of the "big boys" like Xerox want do with MPS though? Some big names using MPS as a way to push boxes into new places?

  2. Nathan - Yup.

    They have no choice, MPS must be a marketing scheme to pull more equipment through.

    It's very old skool, and polarizing - they need to force their specific hardware in the field, attempting to take over the entire account.

    Xerox wants to establish all Xerox houses as does HP(and most of the others)- the one stop shop.

    It's nothing new, just a new tactic.

    But MPS purists know the gig...that the name on the box really doesn't matter.

    The lines are drawn and the battles shall begin in earnest now.

  3. Greg,

    Right on as always!

    And welcome back as I awaiting with abated breath to
    your next blog, as it hadn't changed in a couple of days,

    Thoughts running through my mind:
    - Are the fires in Calif. getting close to his house?
    - Has the expected big Earthquake hit?

    Overall, I was getting a little worried.

    And while I don;t speak for everyone, I wasn't sure I could
    start my day in the MPS World without your review of the
    industry, and what doesn't make sense!

    Welcome back ...

    Regarding, the recharger show, I did hear that each
    MPS session was well attended, but due to the inconstant
    messages from the speakers, I also heard that the message
    might have been confusing to the members.

    Humm... Seems like we need some industry standards
    and help in this area?

    Your thoughts?


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