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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Is Managed Print Services Making a Comeback?

April 2016

Back in the day, about four years ago, every OEM, large dealership, consultant, and training house had a managed print services program. Indeed, the big concerns tossed millions of marketing dollars at prospective MPS practices — remember the great Oki motorcycle giveaways and those Ricoh MPS roadshows? How about the Photizo conferences?

Times changed. More importantly, misaligned expectations, shortsighted hiring practices, and lack of ownership commitment killed many practices. The final blow came as OEM after OEM applied shell-game tactics, pitching themselves as services-led, but hamstringing dealers in the form of equipment quotas. How can ANY manufacturer promote a philosophy which endeavors to reduce the number of machines in the field?

So they didn’t. Instead, MPS corporate programs grew like weeds, defining optimized fleets as “machines carrying the same logo” and promising 30 percent savings

Relegated to “supplies and service” management, MPS slid to the background. Especially when the new “shiny object,” Managed Services, took center stage. But a funny thing happened on the way to the NOC — turns out, managing PCs and end-users and selling to IT folks isn’t as easy as it was expected to be. Indeed, quoting, presenting, and closing IT deals is downright difficult — more so than MPS. The selling is different, prospects act differently, and the infrastructure to support service agreements can be daunting. Once again, a great idea gets bogged down in the real world.

So we tried managed services, didn’t like the results, and now are looking at MPS from a different perspective.

“Maybe MPS isn’t so difficult, after all.”

Read the rest, here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Is Managed print Services experiencing "the third day..."

Yes, MpS is coming back.  I know dozens of successful MpS practices engaging clients, supporting MpS, and making a profit today; it isn't that we've completely abandoned the idea.

But, I'm observing that we've left MpS to pursue the latest shiny object, managed services.  I'm not deriding that effort - worthy is the quest away of print.

And no, clients haven't fallen prey to our hypnotic social media or cold call campaigns - they've heard the "30% savings" mantra and see through the "optimized fleet" scheme.

What I see is that we've come full circle.  MpS programs, benchmarks, best practices, and philosophies have been rooted and everyone has logged their "10,000 hours. 

Today, we've got programs and associations:

CompTia's Managed Print Services community, Xerox PagePack, Canon MDS, Ricoh MDS, HP MPS, Toshiba Encompass, Lexmark MPS, Sharp MPS, Muratec MPS, Kyocera MDS, Okidata MPS and the grand daddy of them all, your Managed Print Services Association.

Today's software, unavailable in 2008, reads devices and spits out proposals in the blink of an eye. 

Like cities in the dark, MpS programs dot the landscape: Supplies Network, Digitec, LMI, Clover, Synnex and more provide sales training, assessment/TCO tools, and automatic toner fulfillment. 

These managed print services pillars are proven, standardized and in place.  In other words, managed print services is the status quo.

The establishment is MpS.

Consider the following:

MpS is part of a stale and complacent offering.
Is there anything staler than copiers, printers, and paper? No.  There is nothing more old-fashioned than marks on paper.  Don't believe me?  Ask your customers.

The providers are not in touch with customers.
While we've been promoting OEM-specific solutions and telling prospects about our 14 new models,  businesses have been shifting from copying to scanning, relieving themselves of those big, nasty A3 copiers, and going paperless - without our help.  

Think I'm wrong?  Check Xerox's earnings for the past 3 years; review HP's numbers for the same period and feel for those Lexmark CxOs, crash-coursing Mandarin.  They all lost touch years ago.

These shinny offerings are wedged into old business models.
I've had paying clients tell me, "...if it(managed services) doesn't fit into the 'blah, blah, blah', copier dealer business model,  it will never work..."  Indeed, even successful managed print services practices utilize yesteryear's example; contractual services tied to equipment placements.  What once was our strength, is now our greatest weakness.

"Complacent, out of touch, old business models"-
I challenge you to google, "How to Recognize an Industry Ready for Disruption" - you'll find that we are sitting on the bubble.  

The niche is primed for major turbulence; bigger than experienced at the beginning of MpS, and separate from current consolidations(OEM/Dealer).

I suggest that you and I are on the cusp of a Revelation and Revolution. The MpS 'third day'. Resurrection.

This time, the MpS revolution will be carried forward by in-the-field, MpS practitioners, free of stifling processes and discombobulated compensation plans...

This time, executives who've forgotten how to sell, aren't fashioning a strategy designed to secure more self space, create equipment quotas then calling it 'managed print services'...

This time, we help our clients move away from ink, away from printers, away from copiers, without the promise of 30% savings...

Who's coming with me?  

This moment will be the moment of "....something real and fun and inspiring in this God-forsaken business and we will do it, together..."

Click to email me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Universal Constant: Are you the "Historic-Denier"

"Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it."
- Winston Churchill

The Earth rotates, our Moon orbits, both circle the Sun, the solar system flows within the Galaxy and the Milky Way drifts through the Universe.

Nothing stands still.

Some observe "change" in patterns - our lifecycle, ocean tides, seasons, sunrises and sunsets - there is a basic rhythm and circular order. Though seasons repeat and the Sun always rises, each Summer is unique, every Sunset, one of a kind. Flow patterns have similar signs, yet every journey is singular.

Even though we live within the turbulence, recognizing the past in our future is challenging.  The establishment doesn't like change.

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
- George Santayana

Business systems abide the same laws yet it's difficult to recognize the signs of change, turn of seasons.  Arguments are historically similar, the signs as prominent, examples clear, but buried in the status quo:

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." - Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation

"It’s time we wake up from the pipe-dream of the paperless office..." - Wired

"Tsk. Death of the Copier? Come on, the OEMs will be around forever and people need to make copies.  Who let this guy in?" - Some print/copier dude, Lyra, 2009.

We've all been here before - as a society and as the human race - today it's the internet, a century ago it was the telegraph. Today it's iPADs, yesterday it was chalk.


There have always been visionaries, there will always be Ludittes.  As further illustration, consider the following list discovered years ago via Fred Kemp, a professor in Texas, by way of Collins and Halverson and originally presented by Dave Thornburg and David Dwyer.  

They're describing resistance to change. I know you'll see parallels.


  • From a principal's publication in 1815: "Students today depend on paper too much. They don't know how to write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can't clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?"
  • From the journal of the National Association of Teachers, 1907: "Students today depend too much upon ink. They don't know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil. Pen and ink will never replace the pencil."
  • From Rural American Teacher, 1928: "Students today depend upon store bought ink. They don't know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education."
  • From FTA Gazette, 1941: "Students today depend on these expensive fountain pens. They can no longer write with a straight pen and nib. We parents must not allow them to wallow in such luxury to the detriment of learning how to cope in the real business world which is not so extravagant."
  • From Federal Teachers, 1950: "Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away. The American values of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Businesses and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries."
  • From a fourth-grade teacher in Apple Classroom of Tomorrow chronicles, 1987: "If students turn in papers they did on the computer, I require them to write them over in long hand because I don't believe they do the computer work on their own."
  • From a science fair judge in Apple Classroom of Tomorrow chronicles, 1988: "Computers give students an unfair advantage. Therefore, students who used computers to analyze data or create displays will be eliminated from the science fair."

Breathtaking, isn't it? "Deniers" from 1815 to 1988.

I remember business owners back in the 90's exclaiming, “Why would I ever need a computerized accounting system?” Three years later, most of those suppliers were gone.

Do you hear similar comments? Yes, everyday.

OEM sponsored ‘studies’ reporting how office print is rising or a blog projecting paper as the preferred knowledge transfer medium appear almost daily; more signs lamenting "pen-knives" and "store bought ink".

I hope you're not telling your employees or prospects, they don't know how to "write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves" or "Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country..."

Robots are replacing jobs like never before, and that's okay.

The business world is evolving away from paper - processes are quicker and more efficient when utilizing digital conveyance of information, and that's okay.

Technology will be the great equalizer, women will be paid the same as men, minimum wage may end up at $40.00/hr, but cashiers and order takers will be replaced with the aforementioned robots.  And that's okay.

Study history, recognize the signs, see the future, flow through the now.

Don't be the historic-denier.

Curious about your future?  Interested in technology as a catalyst?  Join us for a thrill-packed, riveting, web-event, "The Future of Everything", May 19, 2016.

Monday, April 11, 2016

In the Beginning: One Shade of the DOTC Story

Interview, 7/7/2011, The Imaging Channel.

I dug this up from the underground vault - archives of days gone by, reflections of the future.

Most of us know Greg Walters … or at least we know a little bit about him. We’re familiar with his blog, The Death of the Copier (DOTC), and the scantily clad ladies of said blog. We recognize his bandana and Harley Davidson. We know he’s opinionated and passionate about MPS. 

But we here at TIC Talk wanted to know more …

TIC: Do you have a “real” job? If so, what is it?

Greg: Yes, I have a “real” job as the MPS Practice Manager at SIGMAnet, a 25-year-old, West Coast VAR.

TIC: Do you wear a suit to this “real job,” or ever?

Greg: OK, that’s funny. Yes, 9-5, I can be found usually sporting a suit, with a tie even. Odd thing is, many days I am the only person in the office in such garb. It’s Cali, and I am originally from the Midwest.

TIC: What’s your background?

Greg: I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii – Pearl Harbor, in that great big “coral pink” hospital in 1962.
I grew up in a suburb just outside Detroit, graduating high school in 1980 – the same year of the Miracle on Ice, Mt. St. Helens’ eruption, the Olympics and Ronald Reagan accepting the Republican nomination in Detroit, at Joe Louis Arena.

After college, I worked at INACOMP, making my way through a few other dealerships and VARs over a decade or so, always proposing computerized accounting systems. Those were wild times – PS/2s, COMPAQ, Novell networks and DOS 4.0. Taking a break from technology, I worked uniform sales – ahem, I mean, “Corporate Identity Programs” – for a great company, CINTAS. They transferred me out to Ontario, California, in 1999 to help open a new plant.

I decided to get back to technology and jumped into a sales position with Océ. From there, I worked with a very nice Panasonic dealership in Anaheim, pushed on to IKON out of Redlands, and ultimately stumbled into a new thing with SIGMAnet, Managed Print Services.

We started from scratch – oh, the stories I can tell.

TIC: When did you get into MPS?

Greg: Well, I started with the MPS practice in September of 2007. But while at IKON, I exposed myself to all the EDM I could and even worked intimately on a rather large FM project – MPS before there was such a thing.

TIC: When did you create DOTC, and why?

Greg: My first post was on February 20, 2008, and was about HP Edgeline. I created the blog thinking it would be a good way to put some information up regarding the benefits of Edgeline. We (SIGMAnet) were, and still are, an HP OPS Elite dealer. Edgeline was going to kill all other copiers, hence, “The Death of the Copier” – pretty simple. My second post, made on February 24, 2008, was titled “Managed Print Services, That Hot, New Thing …”

TIC: Did you ever imagine that it would grow into what DOTC has become today?

Greg: Nope. I can still see the looks on all the faces of those copier dudes at Lyra 2009. “Death of the Copier? Just who do you think you are?” LOL!I often comment how happy I was getting just 12 views a day, and most of those from my mom. I built the blog originally as a receptacle for things I was interested in. It evolved into a spot for me to put thoughts down one day and go back to read later. I honestly do write for an audience of one: me — and I crack me up. I must say, I am honored, humbled and thankful for all the great people DOTC has introduced in my life. No plan – just making it up as I go.

TIC: What do you do in your free time?

Greg: Huh – sleep.

And hit the trails, get off the grid in my 2001 LandRover, Disco II – yes, it is a green vehicle. Metallic Forest Green, that is. Ha! By the way, new idea for a bumper sticker on a Prius: “My other car is a … car.” Get it? Sorry, that’s my Detroit showing. Anywho, I also like to get out to the paintball arenas and light up some newbs. I used to golf – had all the stuff. One day I figured I really didn’t need another reason to chase a beer cart around all day.

TIC: Greg Walters is certainly an interesting and busy person, both personally and professionally. In addition to blogging on DOTC, working at SIGMAnet, and sitting on the board of the Managed Print Services Association (he currently serves as secretary), Greg will be joining the TIC Web team as a resident blogger, contributing bi-monthly blogs to The Imaging of Greg.

Be sure to check back on Monday, July 11, for his first post.

Posted by Katherine Fernelius on 07/07/2011
Click to email me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Managed print Services Practice Managers: Whats the new, sexy, Managed print Services?

  • Is MpS the new document management tool?
  • Is it business intelligence and analytics?
  • Is managed print services the future of managed services or the other way around?
Your MpS practice incorporates many tools to satisfy your MpS contractual obligations.

For example, you may be utilizing PrintAudit for data collection, an assessment tool and supplies reporting mechanism. Some of your customers might be reporting through WebJet Admin. Once meter reads are completed through the same or additional tool, your billing system takes over, generating invoices, and collecting revenue.

Maybe you see the advantages of outsourcing the toner supply side of your practice with Great American, LMI, Supplies Network, Axess - you may engage multiple solutions.

When your MpS customer calls for service, technicians are dispatched, service parts installed or ordered and tickets closed. The same for help desk tickets and somewhere, warranties are verified to insure proper credit is received for parts exchange. Lease expiration dates, typically the responsibility of sales, are managed in a separate tool, perhaps E*Automate or SalesForce.

On top of all this, you might be able to run a separate P/L.

Consider how many functions and tools mentioned above: The DCA, help desk, service dispatch, accounting, billing, remote management, toner/supplies reporting and fulfillment - at least six separate data bases which do not talk to each other.

We complain each time we're tasked with presenting a review of the practice to the executive board.

ASCII dumps, Crystal Reports, and pivot tables digesting data from silo's of data then cut and pasted into a nice tidy report. This is both a proven process and staggering hindrance.

What’s the new, sexy Managed print Services? Full-line integration and one-touch information from Atlas.

We integrate disparate databases, present relevant data on single sheet of glass and utilize your existing tool set; no ‘rip and replace’, no expensive and time consuming monolith of programing.

With Atlas, it is possible to manage your business with existing tools and without the pain of creating spreadsheets and pivot tables.

One More Thing -

Your practice is full of silos, but imagine your customers'. Do you think they would like to see IT assets, maybe even printers, with relevant data from databases like WebJet Admin, SCCM, LanDesk, or MobileIron, on one screen?

I know they do, go ahead and ask them.

Once you’ve implemented and seen the positive impact in your business, help your customers by offering to manage their assets. Embed asset management into you managed print services agreements.

Curious? We’re hosting a web session reviewing Atlas in the managed print services niche.

Click to register and join us!

Eventbrite - Atlas - Integrate Your MPS Tools

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Is Paperless-ness a Sexy Result or a Mundane Goal?

Have you noticed an increase in "paperless" talk?

Scuttlebutt generated by folks who make a living selling print/copy devices.  Their argument goes something like, "... I've been hearing about the paperless office since 1978.  It hasn't happened yet.  It's never going to happen..."

On the other side, parties are pushing the paperless office as worthy goal. Headlines like, "...Five Reasons You Should Go Paperless..." and "Go Green, Go Paperless..." haunt news feeds and timelines across the internet.

Who will find themselves on the wrong side of history?  Will businesses start printing like it's 1999 or does digital transformation impact everything BUT print and copy?

I'm going with the folks letting go of the past, challenging the present and riding technology into the future.

The paper less office is here, now.  I've seen it in businesses across the country and in varied industries.  My view is supported by the current standing of our Big 3; Xerox, HP, Lexmark.  If the business world is so enamored  with marks on paper, why are the jewels of our industry experiencing years of decline?

  • Is it because the world suddenly realized trees are not a renewable resource?
    • No, trees have always been renewable.
  • Is it because print and copy services are expensive?
    • No, cheaper than ever.
  • Is it because managed print services illuminated decades of overselling?
    • No. Customers do not care.
Business is moving away from printers and copiers because they are utilizing technology to enhance internal business processes.  Businesses aren't going paperless to go paperless, their continuously improving processes resulting in reduced costs and less paper.

One of my axioms:
"The more paper flowing through your organization, the less efficient your processes."
The past illuminates the future - Green columnar paper.

Not that long ago, company financials were calculated on green paper.  Sales, profits, operations plans were reviewed quarterly - 90 day old data was acceptable.

Then VisaCalc, MultiPlan and Lotus changed everything as hand calculations and mechanical pencils gave way to the QWERTY and mouse.

In an instant, general ledger reports could be generated in days instead of weeks.

In less than a decade, sales of green columnar binder paper dropped off a cliff.

Ask your CFO.

We weren't worried about saving trees or the Chewbacca's; new tools streamlined existing, paper based processes.

As a matter of fact,  output skyrocketed as paper-based workers printed everything from invoices to recipes, financial reports, emails and resumes sat abandoned in output trays around the globe - the salad days of office print.

The Internet of Printers? No.  The internet of Processes

Strange and wonderful things occurred over the last decade - 'clouds' support more efficient distribution of technology.  The internet generation occupy cubicles and boardrooms; continuous improvement collides with digital technology every day. Focus has shifted from faster mechanical devices to streamlined processes.

Information flows from one department to another; from human process to human process. Today, the slowest component of business processes is the conveyance of information via paper.

As technology permeates business operations, organic efficiencies eliminate paper as a mode of information transfer.   This is to say, implementing a paperless movement is not as effective as optimizing business processes when it comes to reducing paper use.  It is an 'inside-out' versus 'outside-in' approach.

The theme is simple:  instead of 'reducing paper usage' or saving trees, focus on increasing efficiency.

Have no doubt, as you eliminate redundancies, your paper, printer, copier, and supplies spend will decrease.

Contact Me

Greg Walters, Incorporated