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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Managed Print Services, the Copier and the Traditional Copier Dealer : End of Days


I've been saying it for years now.

For my observations, I have been chastised, rebuffed, chortled at, poo-pooed, and mocked.

Heck, the first time I took, TheDeathOfTheCopier "out in public" (Lyra, 2009), some guy looked at my name badge, cocked his head, and practically yelled, "...Death of the copier? Do you know who we are? We're all dealers!" Like I knew his sister, biblically or something. Yikes.

Well, it doesn't make me all that happy to report the name of this blog is starting to look more prophetic than humorous. The Fourth Horseman is soon upon us.

For starters, there's too much "P" in MPS.

Couple this with 15 years of overselling, overbuying, and overcapacity; The first 3 Horsemen.

And who are the Angels of Darkness?

The IT guys. No, really, I mean it.

The "Complex" Sale -

For copier-schleps, the characteristics of the complex sale are usually rolling multiple buyouts into one lease and building configurations that price out less per month than the current monthly.

This entails calls to different lease companies, digging up some "like-new" devices, begging your service manager to lower his CPC cost, etc.

It may even mean bringing in a "content specialist" of some sort to extend the selling cycle, lowering the buyout amount every 30 days. (what a strategy)

But there is a group out here who know the complex sell to mean a bit more - like multiple decision-makers, staged processes, with milestones and critical paths.

And hang on to your hat for this one - these folks know Assessments.

What we call assessments - starting with the basic copier review to FM asset tracking and all the way to the current MPS data collection and walk-throughs, have nothing, and I mean zilch, nada, zip, in common with these guys' assessments. (Think of the Wright Brothers vs. the Shuttle.)

The bill for these assessments - is in the 10's of thousands. And people pay them.

I ain't kidding! I've seen it with my own eyes.

Their initial(hardware) rollout may take 30 to 60 days to complete, but the total project could take 3 to 5 years.

There are team meetings, with clients, as often as every week. MPS QBRs are fluff and marketecture in comparison.

For them, "PM" refers to the Project Manager, not Preventative Maintenance. And they "PM"(as a verb) EVERYTHING. They invented Visio.

Today, I had a conversation with a traditional, IT Managed Service Provider. He has software that monitors ALL assets on the network. He mentions HP's OpenView, CA-Unicenter, Tivoli, and EDS. Google them.

We get to talking about the standard MPS stuff. Of course, I'm thinking this is just another homegrown, MPS infrastructure in a box offering.

To be fair, it certainly can be.

But what surprised me the most, what set this option apart was not the dashboard, the "single pane of glass" view of the fleet. It was something he said:

"...Managed Print Services should be an I.T. based system and process. A process that moves beyond the monitoring and into action oriented..."

You see, IT Directors and CIOs understand "action-oriented"; this fits into the way they manage all the other assets on the network.

I know, some of us out here have started conversing with IT folks and there are a few copier dealers who have made the jump from transaction to managed services.

A few. Very few.

For the rest, predictions aren't coming, they are already here.

The Lure of Managed Print Services -

MPS, she's a sexxy beast.

Red hair flying, sassy, saucy, intense, never blinking.

And she is very cool - seductive.

She drew us in and even drove us to the party.

An underground party revealing strange, new, and yet vaguely familiar things. 

The temptress, Managed Print Services, leads deeper with a promise of "more".

The dance, at first, looks like jumping; cracking, and fun.

Before you know it she's gone. You're alone and befuddled and feeling out of place.

Not to worry - ManĂ¡ will rain down from above.

- BloodRave -

By the time you realize you're in over your head, it is way too late. The fortunes promised a taste of iron - those around you are not your friends. They are going to eat you alive.

To put the MPS beast down it will take the best of both worlds.

Their Strength in process and our Creativity in Sales.

Resulting in their DayWalker, our Hybrid.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated