Friday, November 28, 2014

2014: The Year in Review - BORING.

Tis the season to be jolly and reflect on the past 12 months.  It is safe to say, technology in general expanded into more and more at an accelerating pace - Moore's Law on nano-bio-bot-steroids.

But the managed print services, copiers, printers and even managed services niche was, in a word, a mundane, tedious, dull, monotonous, repetitive, unrelieved, unvaried, unimaginative, uneventful period.


Unlike, the calm before the storm of 2011 and certainly not in the same vein as the deep, cleansing breath we took in 2013(you remember the summer/fall of 2012, don't you?) this year didn't have the spunk, vim or vigor of previous trips around the sun.  In the world of living color, it could be considered taupe.

 Let's review, shall we? We shall:

2014 -

1.  Ink vs Toner - "Where is all the toner, anyway?"
HP revamped it's authorization process shedding up to two thirds of the business previously allowed to sell their toner through distribution.  At the same time, they are converting, in theory, their MIF from toner to ink devices.  Yet, supplies revenue drops.

As stated over and over, the move to ink has little to do with customer demand and more to do with supply revenue headwinds presented by the re-man/clone/filler folks. Prospects do not care if its toner or ink they're still aren't going to print.

2.  Color is NOT growing - "Seriously, black and white are colors, right?"
Our good friends from MWA and The Imaging Channel recently hosted a webinar, "Digital Transformation of the Office Technology Landscape" - Robert Palmer presented on a plethora of impactful subjects, including Office color.
Robert Palmer, The Imaging Channel

Robert Palmer, The Imaging Channel
He linked ink and color highlighting the 'lower hardware costs'.  The assumption is, and always has been, if we make the device really cheap, users will print more, increasing supplies margin.

This is no secret and is often referred to as the "razor and blade" model. All fine and good, unless nobody prints - consider blade sales in the month of Movember. What if men decided not to shave, ever again, or simply once a week?

One day, the OEMs will hand out printers for free.

3.  The Magical Mystical Quadrant - "Oh joy. We're on the same deck, same ship. Titanic or Lollipop?"

MPS as been packaged into a small, little box.  Managed Print Services, when truly customer focused, is the ignorer of Segment 1-4, destroyer of A3/A4/Color/Ink/Toner and the antithesis of OEMs.

They've known this from the beginning and to stay alive, they must:

  1. Invent reasons to print - office print is becoming less relevant, every day
  2. Make it easy and cheap to print from anywhere - mobile print is available, tablets strapped to devices and copiers connect to the Google-verse and A4's are going out like lukewarm pancakes, yet output continues to fall
  3. REDEFINE MANAGED PRINT SERVICES IN THEIR OWN LIKENESS - hence the magical-mystical-quadrant.  Once MPS is defined and accepted as a hardware-centric play, they all look the same, again, and all end up in the upper right

4.  HP is better together - "We're better together..."
We've been expecting this for years, maybe even decades. - One Yawn

5.  HP is better apart - "We're forming two, Fortune 50 companies..." - 
We've been expecting this for years, maybe even decades. - Two Yawns

6.  ONE shinning light - one beacon in this tepid land of despair; the 2014 Executive Summit, by MWAi.

Perhaps the summit escapes the fate of others by not being billed as an MPS event - or maybe the conference enjoyed a novel and fresh perception relative to the fatiguing occurrences in the realm. The content had little to do with managed print services, toner cartridges, auto-fulfillment, assessments, proposal generation, sales training, first copy out speeds or decorator checkbook covers.

That's why this get together worked, why as the end of 2014 visits us we can take solace in the fact that one entity, one event, balanced an industry.

Other than that - we yawn.

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