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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

MpS: The Unifying Theory & Convergence

Originally posted, 7/11/11

Oh, what could have been.  Reading these words today is more than nostalgic.  How can an article written in 2011 have relevance, if not foretell the future, today?


Just over three years ago (four now), when I started writing about copiers, MpS, technology, selling, and pole dancing, I was one of three. Back then, if one were to Google “managed print services,” the dozen or so returns would’ve consisted of wedding invitation printers and “full-serve” print advertising providers.

There were a few fleet monitoring alternatives and fewer proactive supply management solutions. Hardly anyone mentioned cost reduction, business process, fleet optimization, or phases. And nobody championed reducing costs by reducing prints, copies, or printers and copiers.

This isn’t to say nobody serviced printers or supplied toner. Yes, some were “optimizing” fleets, shifting volume, addressing document workflow and business processes, or managing hundreds of devices, but we inhabited our own little silo.

Xerox, IKON, Canon, OcĂ©, and Pitney Bowes all had their FM division – each conducting site surveys and usage analysis as well as working with colored dots and floor plans.

Silo 1.
The bane of OEMs, third-party cartridge manufacturers, lived their existence in the dark on the periphery of the ecosystem, struggling from legality to legitimacy.

Silo 2.
Liberty, Kofax, and other software companies were conducting user interviews, charting document flows, developing Statements of Work, and evangelizing paper to digital.

Silo 3.
Copier reps walking the streets were suggesting ROI, lower lease costs, TCO, and the benefits of color to purchasing agents and church deacons alike. They were churning, flexing, and otherwise landing gear, giving “more for less” and pitching scan-once-print-many (keyword being “many”).

Silo 4.
The OEMs were flush – seemingly changing models every 90 days. Corporate marketing departments were shoving quotas down the channel, and the channel responded obediently, floor-planning and filling show floors.

Silo 5.
Back then, VARs were executing thousands of transactions a day – servers, desktops, laptops, networks, data centers – and yes, tens of thousands of printers flew off the dock into waiting cubicles.

Silo 6.
I am simplifying by stating only six silos. We may have discovered as many as 11 silos or dimensions over the past two decades inside what can be called the imaging/technology industry.

The number doesn’t matter. Mere acknowledgment is important. Always there, unobserved until now. You see, even though these functions and organizations existed and thrived, there was never a recognized commonality. There was no unifying factor.

Until now.

If you envision these silos standing individually, what could be the common ground? More aptly, what would be the white spaces between the columns?

Managed print Services, the M-theory – that’s what.

Think about it. As we move through the stages of MpS into MS, the “P” fades and other factors, the other columns, illuminate – from third-party toner to scan-to-file, storage, mobility, and EDM – once unique and isolated, now pulled together as one overarching system.

The players haven’t changed, but the game is all different. Those of us who can now ”see” the ecosystem will thrive.
There’s more.

This point in history is unique. This is a time of technological convergence, time compression, and shifting control from a central authority to the individual. MpS is a vehicle for change at this moment. Again, not everyone will see the opportunities or the pitfalls; it takes a wider perspective and pure intent, but those who stay could be champions.

Posted by Greg Walters on 07/11/2011

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