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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Terminus MPS"

Originally posted on The Imaging Channel, here.

Managed print services as they once were have been replaced by dead programs. More than that — walking dead programs.


Barely detectable, cannibalistic programs crept into organizations of all sizes promising impossible cost reductions and spreading the commoditization of services. The establishment, in unfamiliar territory, created a false sanctuary and moved toward small-footprint, multifunction laser printers. Some returned to liquid toner, hoping to shake those pesky cartridge re-animators while others implemented subscription-based schemes.

Some stayed the course selling copiers.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The signs were there for all to see:
The OEMs cared more about shelf space and equipment quotas
And we let them.
The pundits didn't need anything more than “butts in seats”
And we let them.
The sales managers and owners, quick to lament their failures in MPS blame everybody but themselves.
And we let them.
Today, walking dead MPS programs outnumber us and, like the make-believe TV zombies, these offerings are melting away with every storm, shrinking in form and numbers like virgin cores.  It is messy.

In spite of this, there will be no mourning, no heartfelt regret. Things are as they should be. The world moves — terminus MPS is no surprise. We’re presented with the opportunity to find a new pivot point and, unlike the monochrome to color or analog to digital shift, I look forward to the idea of a bigger move.

Consider three mindshifts:

Everything as a service — THINK

This is difficult; changing your mindset always is. Step out of your current business and look at your service model. Look through a different lens away from the product and more on the service. Moving away from expecting monthly unit deliveries is a perspective that must change more than ever before. Think about the possibilities when all things connected can be monitored — how much for services when charging a fee for every act, or provision?

Redefine your OEM relationship, find new partners - NO HARDWARE

For decades you’ve driven business to fulfill your equipment quotas, supporting your OEM of choice — they’ve demanded you continue down this path, leading you along with volume discounts and rebates. Once upon a time, this was supportive. Today, quotas are chains

Forget adjacent industries, go for the contrarian - LUXURY SUBMERSIBLES

Water and coffee services, managed services, managed print services and making copiers isn’t even enough. The bold move is one away from the industry, and parts of the model. Why not monitor a client’s entire power grid or manufacturing floor? How about aiming your expensive NOC at every device with an IP? What is the difference between connected copiers and connected lightbulbs, HVAC, coffee makers, security systems, oil rigs, beer taps, automobiles, or 3D printers?

A challenging idea, wouldn’t you agree? Take heart, dear reader, the greater the challenge, the greater the rewards and no other industry is up to the task more than we. Here is a quick SWOT analysis of our position and why we can do this:


Over the years we’ve moved from down-the-street cold calling to boardroom presentations; from cash transactions to service embedded into leases. Looking back, we’ve always gone through a transformation of sorts. The transformation most of the world is currently working, we’ve already been through — from the box to the C-suite. We adopt


We have fast-moving sales cycles (30 day), heavy overhead, reliance on OEM technology and market drivers.


New markets, new services. The panacea of repeatable, predictable revenue is visible and the best way to build a sustainable service model is not on machines delivered.


OEMs acting even more isolationist, ignoring the indirect channel. Lower-priced devices carrying less margin and technology, attracting business culture away from print.

When we first connected with our MIF (machines in the field) we didn’t know it, but we were the part of the Internet of everything vanguard. We’ve been selling and talking remote monitoring, proactive delivery and business solutions for decades — selling business solutions isn’t in our wheelhouse, it IS our wheelhouse.

The world is pressuring us into becoming part of the horde. Choose to be big, bold, brash and shocking or dissolve away with the walking cadavers. MPS may be a zombie, but you’re not.


A prolific writer, frequent speaker, and hyper-charged freelancer, Greg Walters shares his passionate, unique and provocative view on technology, addressing the digital impact on 21st century business and the new way of work and society. His book, Death of the Copier, published in 2014, offers a controversial summary of the early days managed print services and the not-so-distant future of the hard-copy industry. For four years, he was part of and then rebuilt a managed print services practice inside a West Coast VAR/MSP. Over the last three years he has been assisting companies with optimizing their IT portfolio of services, analyzing information workflow and processes, building self-supporting MpS programs inside IT departments and creating and implementing print policies for medium to large businesses. His company, Greg Walters Inc., is a bold consulting and content creation firm helping companies optimize processes and communicate their stories. Contact him at

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