by Greg Walters | 12/26/14

Looking back across the months, the managed print services landscape is littered with familiar stories of success and defeat: OEMs still pitch hardware, albeit in the format they sold against just 12 short months ago. Software is the software that’s always been. Heck, Preo might even make a comeback.

Independent dealers are either still looking for that magic bullet, happy with their slice of a shrinking pie or dropping copier logos left and right. Most still blame the “direct location” for their woes.

Hello 2011. 

As I considered this tone of reserved angst, sour outlook and frustration it struck me how the entertainment world seems to mirror my current mindset. Stories as old as time, themes and archetypes that are ingrained in our DNA repeat over and over in the movies we watch. Many, eternally reproduced; think Spiderman, Total Recall, Mad Max, etc. Star Wars, to some was an original – but it wasn't. Indiana Jones was a duplication of the 1930 radio serials.

To me there were four distinctive bright lights on the horizon in 2014:

IntelliCloud

I’m not getting paid by any of the folks over there (yet) but I’ve got to tell you, this little “hockey puck” from Intellinetics and Intel is very interesting. First, it’s new to us, yet the idea of a computer in a small box is a proven concept. Here’s what I like — the device is under $3,000, sits on the network, connecting to any existing, scan ready device and allows one-touch capture into a simple EDM/workflow solution in the cloud or on premise. The unit is delivered pre-configured with either H/R or A/P templates.

That’s not all. In addition to workflow in the cloud, ANY software can be loaded; think network, power, and print monitoring. all those heavy, OEM-sponsored EDM solutions become moot — there is no need for a specialist. No two-week training. No dedicated resource or new hire. Additionally, the solution can be sold under a recurring revenue instead of project-based model. Check them out.

HP MPS

HP doesn’t need my help getting their word out. They are worth mentioning simply because their MpS go-to-market strategy is thick with oxymorons – four years ago, they were out in force signing up any reseller with a pulse, even presenting inside some of the largest third-party toner providers as a “partner” in MpS. I was there, I saw it, I know? at the time, everyone heralded this new era of cooperation. That was all before ink became the new toner. Today, that channel is oblivion – some estimate two-thirds of the folks who once sold HP toner have been de-authorized. Two out of three, gone.

Today, the agent model is HP’s answer with a program supported by the re-spun foundation of the Printelligent MPS program. There seem to be pockets of effectiveness — it may be working. If HP agents are content to sell their client relationships for a meager fee, so be it. As everything seems to be at HP, the model is transitional. Good luck.

MWAi Executive Summit

The brightest light of the 2014 skies was the Executive Summit hosted by MWAi in Scottsdale, AZ this past fall. So much has been written and said about the event, I won’t bore you with even more details.

In terms of cutting-edge vision colliding with old school copier mentality this was the mother of all events. Was the content so far out of the box that some won’t be able to comprehend? Sure. The value is in the few innovators who understand and take advantage of a more flexible CRM, embedded technology, power monitoring and all the good stuff presented. They are the tip of the spear, leading the way forward. Good form!

Printerlogic

You probably don’t know the first thing about this company and again, they aren’t paying me (yet) to trumpet a message. My version of managed print services includes optimizing the processes that occur before and after the device. One of the foundational concepts of network printing is a print server. We’ve all heard of them, seen them and understand their functionality. For the denizens of the IT world, print servers can be the bane of their existence; a necessary evil that can grow exponentially offering difficult support and single points of failure within a dynamic network of connected end users. If one server fails, many end users can’t print and the support lines ignite.

Because the copier industry is primarily responsible for connecting a device and letting the client worry about everything else, our visibility into this challenge is shortsighted.

Printerlogic offers way to reduce IT costs by decreasing, if not eliminating, print servers. You are not going anywhere discussing print server reduction with the purchasing agent or facilities manager but the IT person will at least hear you out.

For 2014, that’s about it.

 

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 greg@grwalters.com