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Published on December 8th, 2015 | by Louella Fernandes

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Can MPS providers become strategic partners beyond print?


By • on December 8th, 2015 • in Articles • 1,815 views • No Comments

Managed Print Services (MPS) has for some time been a misnomer – meaning far more than just printers – entering the realms of information and document management, along with business process improvement. As the MPS market gains maturity, organisations moving beyond first generation engagements have often reached the end of their cost-cutting phase and are now looking for innovation to drive more business value.

MPS providers recognise that they need to move beyond print and are responding by extending their services beyond office printing to encompass the print room, business processes and the IT infrastructure. This is not only an opportunity for the traditional print manufacturers but also the independent managed service partners who are increasingly augmenting their core print expertise with broader, best of breed, IT service offerings.

Rising operational costs continues to place pressure on organisations to identify effective strategies for lowering spending.  One strategic approach is vendor management – reducing the number of suppliers to extract more cost-savings and gain increased service level performance. Supplier consolidation can be a positive step in reducing cost and time dealing with multiple suppliers. Today, many MPS providers have a compelling value proposition not only for managing and optimising the print environment, but also the desktop environment and visual communications (think interactive displays, video conferencing, digital signage) and business process outsourcing.

Quocirca’s research reveals there is certainly an appetite for using an MPS provider for other areas of the IT infrastructure. Often the first, and most straightforward step in supplier consolidation is to select a single supplier to manage both office and production printing.  Although these areas may often be managed in silos, due to different stakeholders (IT and facilities management), there are significant benefits to be gained by using a single MPS provider for both the office and the print room. Quocirca’s research reveals that 31% of organisations use a single MPS provider for both environments, with an additional 46% indicating that they would be very interested.

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This presents an opportunity for MPS providers with an established presence in both office and production printing to promote the benefits of an integrated MPS to existing customers. Indeed, there are a number of benefits from this approach. Certainly, for large organisations with high volume production printing needs, Quocirca recommends considering a single provider to drive better utilisation of production devices and take advantage of cloud-enabled production print services as appropriate. Production print devices are often poorly utilised in the print room, and integrated production workflow tools can enable complex print jobs to be re-routed from office printers to the print room, ensuring better overall optimised use of devices.

Production print services also offer capabilities such as cross-channel personalised communications which can optimise the effectiveness of customer communications. MPS providers are traditionally well positioned to offer the expertise and skills in this area, given a strong heritage in variable data printing (VDP) which can be leveraged across both print and digital channels.

Meanwhile, the growing need to accelerate digitisation initiatives is creating a growing opportunity for digital workflow services. Leading MPS providers are more commonly offering business process services (BPS) as part of wider MPS engagements, helping enterprises automate paper-dependent processes such as payroll, claims, mortgage processing and accounts payable, which are full of time-consuming, transaction-based tasks that can stifle productivity.

Quocirca’s research shows that while just 20% use a single provider for MPS and business process automation, almost half are very interested in using a single provider. This opportunity has certainly increased over the past few years, and those leading providers with a broad document solutions portfolio are best positioned to exploit the opportunity.

Several MPS providers are promoting their IT services (ITS) capabilities as an extension to their MPS offerings. Often, this relates to print server management and help desk integration. Overall, 26% currently use a single provider use a single provider for MPS and ITS and an encouraging 45% indicated strong interest.

Although expanding into the IT environment has been on the radar for many MPS providers for some time, it has met with varying success.  Often those providers that are most successful in this space are the independent managed service providers that can leverage a best of breed approach and have an established platform – whether it is cloud or on-premise – to manage a diverse IT estate.

So how well placed are MPS providers to address the changing competitive landscape and a more demanding customer base?  Certainly, in the traditional managed print space, the manufacturers are hugely dominant with some unrivalled strengths which they can harness. This particularly applies to their unique expertise of the document infrastructure and hardware and software integration. For the established MPS providers, their mature service delivery network is a key strength and the governance and SLA framework that is developed for MPS engagements can be applies to the broader IT services ecosystem.

However, straying out from those buyers that MPS providers and the channel are used to can stretch their capabilities.  The existing IT department will be reluctant to give up any business processes to a provider they do not see as a ‘core’ IT provider.  This may well be where the new MPS battle will be fought – across the field of the office and IT.

Using a single provider for print and IT services can lead to several advantages if there is clear governance and control. A stronger emphasis on cost reductions across other areas of the organisation beyond print will also be enhanced by the cost reduction that results from dealing with fewer suppliers. Billing processes will be clearer, the control and visibility over purchasing will be increased and will be easier to manage and track; resulting in less time and administration.

While there may be a view that consolidating to fewer suppliers may have a detrimental effect on service quality, often consolidating services with a single supplier can result in better relationships and improved service levels, as the supplier looks to build a deeper strategic relationship. Ultimately a single supplier must be a strategic partner, offering cross-domain expertise and end-to-end accountability through long-term commitment.

Certainly enterprises are willing to consider extended services from their MPS provider. The opportunity for MPS vendors to evolve beyond print has never been stronger.

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About the Author

With 25 years’ experience in the print industry, Louella Fernandes is a respected and globally recognised analyst focusing on the evolution of print in the digital age. Louella is currently Associate Director for Print Services and Solutions at Quocirca.



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