True or false: OEMs and Managed Print Innovation

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By West McDonald, Vice President of Business Development, Print Audit & Owner, FocusMPS

OEMs, Managed Print Services Innovation and SMBs. Print Audit, PAE Business, 3 Across The SeaPrint Audit has brought together 7 of the leading women in the office equipment and Managed Print industry to bring insight and expertise to a channel undergoing great change.  We call them “The Avengettes”.  This week’s guest blog is written by one of those 7 bright minds, Petra Diener, the CEO of 3 Across The Sea.  We asked Petra to give us her thoughts on the OEMs and what they are doing to innovate and keep up with the needs of the modern office.   Here is what Petra had to share:


What are some of the best OEM Managed Print initiatives of the  last year or so?

Are the OEMs doing enough to keep pace with the changing market landscape?  Honestly, I’m waiting to see something from the OEMs in the office equipment and imaging space that’s really innovative.

Let’s be clear about something up front: I care more about small businesses than large global enterprises. Small as in small dealers and small end users. I want them to be happy, ready for a long and prosperous future. After all, I own a small business and mainly work with small businesses.

Yes, there have been new devices, and new software tools, but are these groundbreaking? Unless I’ve completely missed something, I can’t remember anything that would revolutionize MPS.

Hardware seems to become cheaper by the day, so do consumables.  The paper lobby is stronger than ever.  With paper companies engaging in reforestation who would consider paper an environmental threat?  Too many companies still have enough money or the desire to pay the rent for physical filing storage.  Most customers don’t really understand the paper vs. digital filing calculation or the cost of searching/losing/re-creating a document.  “It doesn’t have a significant impact on my business.”  At least so they believe.

Very often, in small environments, ROI is an impossible equation as consulting, and solutions are too expensive and take too long to have significant positive impact. In some cases, OEMs offer solutions in impossibly large bundles (can I mention Digital Alternatives here?) to be considered by small businesses.

I’m still waiting both for hardware and software that allows businesses of any size to offer and to embrace MPS.

Exhibit 1

The SMB with 2000 – 5000 pages a month, printed in 3  different locations on small MFPs as all other functions, copy, scan and fax are required, too.

Using these off-the-shelf mini MFPs is, on the long run, too expensive (per page), “real” MFPs aren’t much cheaper, the only advantage possibly to be seen: service.

Plus, many small businesses don’t want to make long-term contract commitments.

Workflow solutions, which could help reducing print volumes are too expensive or not even available in such small licensing bundles.

Exhibit 2

The SMB is happy to embrace digital transformation and is looking for a suitable solution. Who is happy to talk to the 2000 – 5000 pages per month, three devices company? Who offers suitable workflow solutions, affordable enough to produce the kind of ROI that justifies the investment?

I read about Brother’s, and others’, SMB initiatives – but still, the really small ones, who need to find ways to streamline processes to save money in the back office to keep their business profitable, have to improvise, i.e. rely on the initiatives and resourcefulness of their staff.

Dear OEMs and dealers, what are you going to do about this? There’s a large and ever growing small to micro business movement out there!

For the more medium sized to larger (and, of course, up to enterprise size) companies, the latest devices, and solutions are most certainly offering plenty of playground for MPS solutions, at almost any maturity level.

But is there any initiative I’d consider the future of printing and MPS – no.

Too many processes are still paper-based as either process, or hardware or even legal requirements don’t allow an alternative approach.

Where are the paper options that could help the mobile workforce work paperless (and no, we don’t need another portable printer!)? Building plans, fitting instructions, proper handwriting, and handwriting recognition?

Mobile devices that could replace paper are too often not reliable enough: they need power and internet connection to deliver up to date documents, they are still too delicate considering, for example, a construction site. Editing/Annotation solutions are not as easily, cheaply and reliably available as pen and paper.

There are some well-published examples about how hospitals are going paperless – do we know exactly how much less they’re printing? The visible paperless solutions are in the front, not the back end of hospitals.  Even airliner cockpits are going paperless with the advent of digital flight manifests!  Oh sure, walking past staff rooms, there’s still plenty of paper flying around. There’s probably a paperless solution out there for them too; they just haven’t run into it yet.

Meet the ever resistant user

Are we all ready for to step into MPS / MDS / MCS? Most recently I’ve come across arguments such as

“I’m highly sensitive to electrosmog”, or “I’m taking data protection back in my hands by printing rather than keeping a digital copy”, or “I’m too old to go digital” to only name some of them.

Yes, it’s in their heads but do we have rock solid facts to bring changes to everyone involved in content processing? Are the change management processes in place to move on to the next level of MPS / MDS / MCS?

While writing this little article, I realize I have more questions than answers for our OEMs and dealer.

So again, no, I can’t see any solution on the horizon that would make the sun rise in the West and set in the East.

Are they doing enough – no. NO. Why else can e.g. printers still be hacked, or, with exceptions, can we buy WiFi enabled printers for the home and small office environment, or, or, or.

And NO again – why would they bring out mobile printers in 2016 if we had the next level of tools available to annotate and sign documents on ANY device? Throw software at the masses, not printers and scanners!

But I guess I’m asking for too much. There’s probably still enough profit in hardware and consumables to move on and focus more on solutions.