Resellers have the opportunity to add significant value to the sale of printers with new remote management and diagnostic capabilities now being built into these products.
Already a number of manufacturers like Tektronics and Hewlett-Packard have delivered Web-based management utilities that enable things like printer status and the amount of toner remaining to be monitored. Some of these utilities also incorporate auditing features so that users can track who is printing what and how much they are printing.
Epson officials said they intend to take this concept further and incorporate sensors throughout printers that will enable the usage and health of various printer components like the drum to be tracked or monitored. The printer will then be capable of warning when a component is in danger of failure.
Epson will be able to monitor its printers from an Epson service centre, officials said, meaning it can be proactive about printer maintenance. However, it also hopes to use channel partners to deliver these remote management capabilities.
Certainly, the opportunity will be there, and probably is already there, for resellers to not only sell printers but also to remotely manage them. Resellers can courier over toner cartridges when they are needed, deliver usage reports back to managers for departmental charge back purposes, and be more reactive and even proactive about printer maintenance.
Epson officials also believe these management capabilities will give printer manufacturers the edge in winning the all-in-one printer/copier/fax war against the office supply vendors. These vendors traditionally have a "feet on the street" service culture meaning printer vendors will be significantly cheaper in the total cost of ownership stakes, Epson officials claim.