By Melissa Donovan
Managed print services (MPS) continues to evolve. Today, so much more than hardware is managed. Instead of selling boxes, dealers—both direct and through channels—have transitioned to a new sales model that deals with streamlining the various paths documents take throughout an organization. A new acronym—managed document services (MDS)—is now on the scene.
While MPS has always had a primary goal of increasing efficiency, more businesses are requesting a provider to come in and completely revamp operations to cut costs throughout the entire document lifecycle. Demand has brought about a change in MPS providers, affecting what they offer customers and how they do it, making them MDS providers. Here, we detail how one dealer successfully transitioned from a toner supplier to MPS and then to an MDS provider.
Founded in 1974, Cannon IV Inc. is a privately held company, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. A family-oriented business, today it is run by four brothers. Based in Indianapolis, IN, it also has locations in OH and TX.
Cannon IV began as a printer supply company, offering toner and other printer supply products to small and large enterprise accounts nationwide. However, by 2003 it looked to move into MPS, as Jerry Jones, president/CEO, Cannon IV, recognized his customers’ need for more than just a consumables supplier, and instead a business that could help them improve their organizations.
“The evolution was really driven by customers looking for more than an a la carte supplier of components. They wanted a business partner that could create a custom solution that spanned everything,” explains Jim Fall, VP, strategic planning and business development, Cannon IV.
Fall was brought on to help with the company’s transformation, which entailed building out a new business structure by educating its staff, becoming up-to-date on technology, and reaching out to vendor partners. Cannon IV was fortunate enough to leverage a strong and highly motivated staff, which then went through extensive and on-going MPS training. According to Fall, the belief was that its staff was good enough to get Cannon IV through the first 30 years of business, so they were clearly up to the task of getting Cannon IV through the next 30.
When Cannon IV began creating its MPS offering in 2003, the MPS industry was in its infancy. The company had to create or invent tools and training programs to support its MPS initiative. Learning about MPS and all that it entailed meant reaching out to technology partners and sharing best practices. Cannon IV looked to partners like Lexmark, who has been a long time partner since the days of when IBM owned the company, to go beyond the world of printer supplies.
“Customers look to us as an organization that challenges them to think differently. Having a partner like Lexmark helps us do that, as they have a similar vision,” shares Fall.
As Lexmark has made strategic moves in the market, for example acquiring Perceptive Software in 2010, Cannon IV has been on board the entire way. The vendor’s expansion into software and solutions helped the MPS provider move into more than just managing boxes and supplies, but services too.
Additionally, Cannon IV has continued to change and evolve its business model. According to Fall, MPS will need to evolve to include management of the printed and digital document. This will enable the dealer to help its customers improve business processes to accelerate decision making and the customer relationship process.
Today, Cannon IV is a Lexmark and Perceptive Software value-added reseller focused on delivering MPS to enterprise-class organizations, as well as small businesses. “Enterprises are looking for us to help them more efficiently manage their print and document infrastructure to manage costs and increase the velocity of their decision making. These enterprises are looking for a strategic partner who will continually challenge them to improve operations with new ideas and technologies,” says Fall.
Products and services that Cannon IV offers range from fleet management to enterprise content management (ECM). Its MPS program provides multi-vendor hardware and service programs and open system software product offerings that are enterprise-class applications. The program is based on three core software product lines—FMAudit printer/multifunction printer fleet management software; PaperCut print management software; and Perceptive Software, featuring capture, content management, workflow, and search capabilities. In addition, Cannon IV provides complementary vertical market applications such as Lexmark’s Hosted Testing and Grading and card readers for user authentication.
Cannon IV understands the benefits of educating its customers to look at MPS as managing everything—from hardware to document to business process optimization. Those customers fall into several industry verticals, including legal, healthcare, banking, manufacturing, government, and education. In each scenario, while the goal is the same—focus on streamlining organizational dynamics to provide efficiency and reduce costs—how it is achieved varies.
For example, for education, whether K-12 or a higher education level, the needs are more distributed. A K-12 district may span 17 buildings with 17 different office and budget structures, versus a corporation who may have various locations but still operates similar office and budget structures. Or security concerns, dealing with the privacy of student data in education differs from corporate or government data.
The challenge for a reseller is to avoid being awarded a contract and then learning the industry as you go—no customer wants you educating yourself on the job. The Cannon IV team makes the commitment to understand the unique needs of the customer, which takes continuous learning on their part, referring back to older jobs or working with partners like Lexmark.
With this success, Cannon IV is able to properly assess which sectors are indeed more susceptible to MPS. The company has noticed that education has adapted much more quickly, mostly due to how easy it is to measure the payback or return on investment. For example in K-12, if MPS is implemented, a school or district may save $100,000 annually—that is enough to pay for a teacher’s salary, explains Fall.
“For universities, many times it is relative to the cost of student tuition. The metrics are a bit different here, as being a public organization, the funding may be squeezed. There is a high sense of urgency to improve processes and/or reduce costs,” says Fall.
Conversely, Fall admits that in his experience, governments—whether local or federal—are most challenged to adapt to MPS/MDS primarily due to staff size.
In the future, he foresees heightened adoption in both the manufacturing and banking sectors. “From a macroeconomic view, those sectors of the economy were hit hard during the recession. Now, as they rebuild, there is a lot of activity and they look at ways to create a streamlined organization with a higher level of efficiency,” adds Fall.
How Vendors Can Help
Cannon IV is one example of a dealer working outside of the direct network to successfully sell MPS/MDS. Admittedly, its relationship with Lexmark has been influential to its success. The following highlights how other vendors work with and train dealers as well as their direct sales channels on MPS/MDS.
Canon Solutions America is a direct channel for Canon U.S.A., Inc. Its Business Services division focuses on helping customers manage output—and not just a device. On-site staff meet strict national standards in various service areas to deliver what a customer requires. The staff is cultivated through training, extensive benefits packaging, and recognition for outstanding performance.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) offers training support for the HP MPS resell program, a multi-level, modular system designed to maximize convenience for channel partners as well as provide hands-on training. Resellers first complete training in a Web-based, on demand format. Then, they move on to more detailed specialist training in the same online format. After, HP provides live, one-on-one training to partner team members who plan to use the HP Express Decision Portal tool to manage print systems. Lastly, advanced training is offered to successful partners in the form of on-site visits by HP subject matter experts.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions, U.S.A., Inc. provides dedicated resources to support dealer and direct channels via its Business Intelligence Services organization. The team is comprised of systems engineers, consultants, and systems architects. Training material is available through the company’s Learning Center, including online testing and certification. Konica Minolta also provides on-site and hands-on training for both sales representatives and systems engineers that support its software portfolio inclusive of MPS software, MIT services, workflow software, ECM solutions, cost accounting, and other applicable technology.
Lexmark holds an extensive training program for its direct sales team regarding MPS. Within the dealer community, it segments where it is appropriate to sell MPS and then works with those dealers on Lexmark MPS training.
OKI Data Americas, Inc. has a dedicated MPS operations support team that works directly with field sales personnel, end users, and channel partners. Channel partners are set up with complete Web access to the company’ s Managed Print Portal, which provides all of the systems, tools, resources, and services needed to offer and execute managed print initiatives.
Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc. offers MPS academy training programs that feature virtual and live training for dealers, subsidiaries, and partners. Live training is undertaken by professional service and business development teams that work directly with dealers. An annual Toshiba LEAD conference is held in various locations to provide dealers and end users with hands-on training, as well as to look into future products and services. Toshiba’s Encompass suite of programs enable dealers and users to assess MPS needs while also utilizing fleet management and asset management tools.
Xerox Corporation sells MPS solutions to large enterprises through a direct sales force and to small- and medium-sized businesses through channel partners. It places an emphasis on helping current and future channel partners make the transition from selling technology to selling and delivering print- and information-related services.
Vendors and dealers alike are committed to the changing landscape of MPS. Managing more than hardware, this service has evolved to understanding and implementing a more efficient and cost-effective end-to-end system for an organization. Those who become MPS providers must educate their staff on a variety of scenarios to effectively help customers. To this end, vendors ensuring the correct tools—whether on the Web or in person—are in place to help both direct and dealer channels succeed.
Learn more about MPS/MDS. In a two-part, Web exclusive series, vendors highlight the current trends and point to key drivers influencing the adoption of MPS in the enterprise. We also review MPS/MDS options available today. dps
Nov2014, DPS Magazine