HP and ImageNet: Partnering For an Advanced Tomorrow

Matthew Schotten, vice president of managed print solutions at ImageNet, likens HP’s newest A3 technology and Smart Device Services to a luxury electric car.

“It’s inherently more reliable,” he says. In high-end, technically advanced engines of today there’s no need to get the routine maintenance associated with a traditional engine, since there are fewer items that require service. With all the technology, he says, “it’s more like servicing a computer than a car.”

ImageNet

The current HP PageWide model is doing a lot of those same things. “With the PageWide A3 products,” he says, “we are seeing that our parts and labor burden is extremely low — significantly less than what it is for a traditional laser device, and that’s just because of the inherent print engine design and the fact that we don’t have to install parts and drums and fusers and transfer belts.”

This inevitably leads to better business outcomes, something Schotten says is the company’s ultimate goal. ImageNet customers are most interested in obtaining stronger security, easier scalability and higher employee productivity, he says. Through its collaboration with HP, ImageNet gives the customers those desired outcomes.

ImageNet, based in Oklahoma City, was founded in 1956 as Southwest Typewriter Company.  Bobby Roberson started the company in his garage with a $50 loan from his mother. He had to compete with major typewriter manufacturers for business and was able to do so by focusing on service and trust — the same focus of the company to this day. ImageNet was honored as an HP Managed Print Services Best-in-Class Partner for 2017, and today is finding success with HP A3 multifunction printers and Smart Device Services (SDS) remote management.

While technology changes at breakneck speeds, business processes driven by the movement of paper have not. Though many studies have pointed out the inefficiencies of paper-based processes, and business professionals generally agree with these findings, they do not have the time or expertise to evaluate and improve the situation.

This is where ImageNet Consulting comes in. While it is a multivendor printer and copier hardware provider, Schotten finds HP’s products and attitudes most in line with ImageNet’s vision. He notes that HP is focused on trying to improve the customer’s business and business outcomes, and “how we can make your business easier to manage, easier to scale, enter into new markets, provide new solutions, improve your profitability, and lower your costs,” Schotten says. “These are the things HP is thinking about and that is refreshing.”

One example, he says, is the HP SDS, which gives the company the ability to scale and sell more devices, but not have that direct linear relationship to increasing costs. Schotten says this is because a lot of the troubleshooting can be done proactively, or remotely from a call center. HP, he says, is focusing on what they can build into a device from a machine learning perspective and from a predictive standpoint, where devices can start to take care of themselves or help the trained technicians make decisions about how to proceed.  “Instead of just throwing out parts and saying ‘let’s try this, let’s try that,’ the predictive tools and service tools that HP is building will really improve our business,” Schotten comments.

The HP A3 is designed with fewer parts and relies heavily on firmware, which is critical to its performance. Updating that firmware and introducing new security patches can all be done remotely using HP SDS.

The current HP Pagewide technology is the latest HP product powered by scalable print technology (SPT). “We knew that when we brought on HP A3 that there was a high expectation that it was going to be a high-quality product because that’s what HP is legendary for, with the LaserJet brand,” Schotten says. “We’ve also been experiencing that same thing with the PageWide product on the A4 that we’ve been doing for a couple of years now.”

Because every customer or MPS provider probably has a different definition of MPS, Schotten says ImageNet’s definition “is truly defined by our customers’ objectives and what they’re trying to accomplish.”

Schotten says that for some organizations, that might be to improve security. For another, it might be to lower cost, and for another, it might be to consolidate vendors.  A fourth might want to do all four of those things.

“But really,” Schotten says, “I think the primary definition of MPS is, ‘I need to have a single provider that supports all of my devices that print paper, and I don’t care if that’s A4 paper or A3, or if it’s A3 devices that print A4 paper.’”

In fact, Schotten adds that he’s starting to take A3 out of his lingo, because “that’s really an industry term. A customer doesn’t know what A3 is.”

To that end, he describes them as department-class MFPs that have robust duty cycles, the lowest TCO at high volume, and extended finishing capabilities — “and by the way, they print up to 11 by 17 paper.”

Business inkjet also offers environmental benefits. HP PageWide devices have the lowest carbon footprint of any device in their class, as well as the most energy-efficient performance.

“Everything from our HP partner business manager to executive support, MPS support, product and hardware support, and then new business and development with the end user teams, all of those working together are really what I would attribute our success to.”

The most important thing, he says, is putting the right products in the right place. Scanning is a good example of that, he says. And while he notes that most MFPs are putting very fast scanners on top of copiers and printers these days, sometimes there are issues with multi-pick, where the device pulls two pieces of paper together. HP EveryPage Technology ensures that if that happens, the device will notice that a misfeed has occurred. “So, rather than pulling two pages through and only scanning one of those, it’s going to notify you that a misfeed happened.” According to Schotten, customers have indicated that is a feature of critical importance, “especially if you’re scanning a signature page of a contract, and that’s the page that didn’t scan,” explains Schotten. Missing a page could be disruptive to security or compliance, and even disrupt the whole business process if a page is lost and you don’t know it’s lost.

Customers working with ImageNet to deploy HP A3 MFPs come from many verticals, including healthcare, financial services, and local government. “It’s about net new customers and growth,” Schotten says.

One healthcare organization replaced all of its print devices with more than 250 HP A3 and A4 devices. In the past, ImageNet would have most likely sold the same customer 50 new copiers and assumed the service on the existing printers.  Schotten points out that it is in the customer’s best interest to refresh to the new HP devices that are more reliable, cost less and have strong security.

A regional bank customer, already an HP customer, had some of the same printers in use for 14 years. ImageNet phased in more than 600 new HP A3 and A4 devices. In the case of a local government customer, ImageNet converted competitive copier products to HP A3 devices at lease end, increasing customer satisfaction.

Schotten sees strong growth opportunities as an HP partner going beyond traditional print because managed IT and Device-as-a-Service are still in their infancy. “We worked with countless HP people at all levels and all of them are fantastic people.  And we saw the vision, we listened to the vision and we see where it’s headed.” Schotten adds that he sees the collision of some “interesting trends, whether that be security, the consolidation of the industry, the convergence of managed IT services and managed print services.”

In talking about the future, Schotten returns to his electric car analogy.  “I’m not fortunate enough to own one of those,” he laments. “But I’ve heard this: That you come out in the morning and you go in and there’s a nice update that says, ‘while you were sleeping, you got this cool new update that does these cool new things.’” HP devices will allow ImageNet to do the same — “update the firmware remotely or introduce new security patches or functionality or improve the reliability remotely. Or if a truck does have to be rolled to insert a part based on a proactive or predictive maintenance … we can do those things without a customer having to notify us. Truly I think that’s got to be the future of this industry and I think HP’s ahead of it.”