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Published on October 7th, 2015 | by Louella Fernandes

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Can Sharp catch-up in the MPS market?


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Sharp has stepped up its managed print services (MPS) initiatives as it looks to capture more mindshare in a highly competitive market. At its UK launch of its new Optimised Managed Services (OMS) on 1st October 2015, Sharp demonstrated a hardware and software portfolio that aims to addresses the information management needs of the whole enterprise.

OMS takes a four stage approach covering assessment, solution design, transition and project management and ongoing contract management. This is fairly standard in the industry and these core services are now increasingly commoditised as the MPS market continues to mature.

Consequently MPS providers are finding new ways to differentiate, and much of this centres around managing workflow.  With more information entering the enterprise in different formats – be it paper or digital – there is an opportunity for MPS vendors to support an organisation’s journey to digital transformation. As such, MPS providers offering more ECM and workflow automation tools to support the input, processing and output of a variety of document formats.

Sharp is no exception, and it is addressing the growing need to access information from a variety of mobile devices. Sharp’s Cloud Portal Office is a secure, cloud-based file sharing/document management service which is accessible from any Sharp Multifunctional Printer (MFP), Sharp BIG PAD Interactive Whiteboard, smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC.

Sharp Cloud Portal Office

Sharp like other manufacturers offers a tablet-like user interface to the portal which can be customised with one-touch access to the functions, files or applications that are most important to the end-user. This capability is key to offering support for broader business process integration – for example scanning and routing invoices or expense receipts to the appropriate financial application.

Although these capabilities are available across most manufacturers, there are some areas where Quocirca believes Sharp’s MPS offering offers strong integration beyond the core MPS approach.

 

  • Visual capabilities: Sharp can support collaborative working via visual tools (such as Video conferencing and its Big Pad interactive touch screens) which can be used in conjunction with Sharps’ Cloud Portal Office for document storage. Through interactive virtual meetings employees can collaborate on documents – and reduce the costs associated with face-to-face meetings.  Sharp is offering all this as part of its OMS portfolio to position OMS as an information management offering rather than a pure print service.
  • Personalised customer communications: While many copier companies are offering some form of customised communications, it does not necessarily form part of their standard MPS portfolio. Sharp’s OMS suite includes its cross media capabilities that enable personalised communications to be delivered across a variety of channels –print, email, web, mobile or digital signage – such as video walls. This service potentially requires a strong consulting element to truly understand the communications needs of a business. When combined with Sharp’s broad high-end production portfolio it offers enterprises the opportunity to better use their production print devices and also optimise their communications for a multichannel environment.

Quocirca Opinion

Sharp so far has been a quiet contender in the MPS space.  This announcement is specific to the UK and reflects its leading strategy in Sharp’s European strategy. This regional focus means that it does not have a centralised MPS platform that many of its competitors offer to support multi-country deals.  Also, its hardware portfolio is largely A3 based, and lacks the A4 mono product which is often vital to any MPS engagement. Consequently in many cases Sharp will be managing a mixed fleet and as such its OMS offers full multivendor support.  Quocirca expects that Sharp will look to work more closely with a printer manufacturer to close the gap in its portfolio.

A strong point for Sharp is its service delivery capabilities. According to Sharp it has more engineers per device than the industry average and engineers are fully trained on third party brands. It utilises a bespoke management suite, to deliver proactive service and maintenance. With Quocirca research showing service quality to be one of the top drivers for MPS choice, Sharp should raise awareness of its service delivery as this could be a critical differentiator.

The OMS launch demonstrates that Sharp is finally raising its profile in the MPS market.  However, the market is extremely competitive with many established players continuing to extend their portfolios. While Sharp can look to expand its presence by offering services that link together its MFPs and visual solutions, in traditional MPS engagements it will need to sharpen its workflow capability to compete with the likes of Xerox, Ricoh and Lexmark.

Meanwhile, with 50% of its business going through the channel, this also represents a strong opportunity for Sharp in the low end markets. While the enterprise market is relatively mature – the SMB and mid-market is still under penetrated and with the right approach and execution Sharp could potentially capture a greater market share.

Find out more about Sharp’s OMS offering


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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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