The Imaging Channel recently interviewed Corey Simpson, community director of the CompTIA MPS Community and Greg VanDeWalker, the chairman of the community and senior vice president, strategic relationships, at GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation.
How was the CompTIA MPS Community created?
Corey: A lot of the people in the managed print services community were already within another CompTIA community, our MSP Partners group, which focuses on general managed services and is more IT-related. However, because managed print is so distinct, members really saw a need to take that group of individuals, separate them and start their own managed print services group.
Who are the members?
Corey: The makeup of the community is vendors, OEMs, solutions providers, distributors, and then we have the channel associates — so anyone that is actively participating in managed print services. As of April, there were 81 members officially involved in the community.
How does the CompTIA Community work with the other MPS associations/communities?
Corey: CompTIA is a nonprofit association, and our goal is advancing the IT industry. Our view is that anyone else that is advancing the IT industry is helping us reach our goal. Photizo and MPSA are trying to do that; they’re trying to advance managed print services, so we’re happy to collaborate with them. There are members of the MPSA in the CompTIA community as well as analysts from Photizo. There is a close-knit connection among the three of us.
What are some of the challenges MPS providers are dealing with today?
Greg: Some of the complexities depend on what kind of business you have today. So if you are a traditional IT VAR, there’s a certain group of issues you’re going to struggle with, whereas a copier-centric organization is going to have a different set. People are asking about (standards and credentials), and when something gets created, there’s going to be significant interest in it because it’s something that companies can work toward, something good for their business, and a good differentiator.
Is the creation of certifications and credentials feasible for this market?
Corey: CompTIA has a couple certifications that relate to document imaging and print management. Our PDI+ and CDIA+ certification are associated with the field, but they are not specifically for managed print services. So one of the big things that we’re looking at in the community — and it really is a large task to tackle — is, what are we going to do from a training and credentialing perspective for MPS in the future? We want to figure out if CompTIA can offer an MPS+ certification or maybe an MPS credential that certifies the organization rather than an individual. It’s definitely something we’re looking at in the community.
Why is creating certifications for this market so difficult?
Greg: One of the things with MPS, generally speaking, is it’s very disjointed. I think CompTIA is helping to bring some clarity to what MPS is and how to be successful in it. CompTIA is trying to create some type of credential for an organization and certification for the individuals to establish some bars for people to shoot for.
Will these credentials help end users?
Greg: Ideally, if an end user has three vendors he’s looking at, and one of them has credentials from CompTIA, that should tell the end user that there are certain things about that business — the way it’s run, the way they do MPS — and that they should take great confidence in that fact. There’s never been anything like this before. That’s one of the big voids in the industry. There’s nothing specific for MPS, and that’s something that we’re working very diligently on.
Will standards and credentials bring the market closer together or separate it?
Greg: Ultimately, it will help bring the market closer together and raise the bar. So from our perspective, there’s a very bright future because the need is there; it’s just a matter of getting some of this work done.
What’s next for the community?
Corey: Every year, at the start of the year, we have a strategy discussion for each community, and we talk about the obstacles that we need to face right now and how to address those. This year, it was educating, training and credentialing. The beauty of this, from my perspective, is that the chair and the community members make the decision to drive in whatever direction it is that we go. And with MPSA and Phoitzo involved in the group, I think it will be really interesting to see what happens next year.