The idea of managed print services (MPS) has been around for years, but it’s really only been an option for larger organisations, or at least those that do a lot of printing.
The idea is that the provider looks at the volume and pattern of printing, installs an appropriate fleet of printers (and possibly MFDs), and then provides the necessary consumables and maintenance. In return, the customer pays an agreed price per page. A similar model has been used for photocopying for even longer.
The benefits are that it eliminates the upfront investment in hardware - the old ‘opex rather than capex’ argument - and that it delivers a lower cost per page than the organisation would be able to achieve on its own, because the provider has the expertise to select an optimal collection of printers, the flexibility to move devices between clients to maintain that optimum in the face of changing printing behaviour, and the ability to achieve economies of scale when procuring the equipment and consumables.
HP executive vice-president, LaserJet and enterprise solutions, Ron Coughlin, expects most of the growth in printing will come contractual relationship such as managed printing services, and says that while HP is already the number one supplier in the enterprise market, its acquisition of Printelligent earlier this year will allow the company to expand into the SME sector. (Based in Salt Lake City, MSP provider Printelligent supplies, manages and services several well-known printer brands in addition to HP.)
A key aspect of this strategy is that while HP is keen to move its SME customers onto MPS, it isn’t looking to squeeze out its traditional channel partners that currently sell HP printers and all-in-ones into the SME market. Quite the contrary: Leong Han Kong, the company’s Asia-Pacific vice-president for LaserJet and enterprise solutions stresses that Printelligent’s MPS will be sold through HP’s current channels, just as it is in the US.
That’s good news for those partners, of course, but I’d argue it’s also good for customers. How many SMEs know that MPS is an option available to them? We often hear that resellers are - or seek to be - the “trusted advisor” to their SME customers (especially those at the small end of the range).
Imagine being able to tell a client that thinks they need to buy a new printer that there’s an alternative that avoids the upfront expense and also delivers lower overall printing costs.
Stephen Withers attended an HP event in Shanghai as the guest of the company.