Managed Print Services at an Inflection Point

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Managed print services continues to build momentum as more enterprises to small businesses choose to remotely moitor their printers and document management systems. IDC says this services segment is at an inflection point in which vendors and their solution-provider partners must differentiate their value propositions to attract customers.

IDC ranks Xerox Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Lexmark and Ricoh Corp. as the leaders in managed print services, saying they have developed mature offerings that appeal and continue to attract interested by enterprises and SMBs alike. Additionally, IDC sees potential for managed print services development at Brother, Dell Inc., Epson, Okidata Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Sharp Corp.

Managed print services has been on the table for nearly a decade. Printer vendors recognized the inevitable decline in printing volume as more mobile devices came to market and people drifted away from hard-copy documents. Like other managed services, managed print held the benefits of recurring revenue, scalable service delivery and deeper customer entanglement.

On paper, managed print services seem like a surefire hit. Customers would no longer need to worry about consumables and printer jams. Vendors would have consistent, predictable revenue. And solution providers mediating the service would have revenue and a new touch on their customers. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, though. Solution providers and customers were initially reluctant to sign up, instead opting for the traditional printer purchase and third-party consumable replenishment model.

IDC says managed print services is not only gaining acceptance, but has reached an inflection point. The problem facing even the leading managed print vendors is not getting partners or customers to understand the model, but demonstrating why a particular service is different or better than a competitive offering.

“The MPDS market is at an inflection point, particularly in the developed, enterprise markets,” wrote Holly Muscolino, research director of document solutions at IDC. “In those markets, penetration is relatively high, and it’s increasingly difficult for vendors to differentiate their services and supporting technologies. Hardcopy vendors must strive to develop unique services portfolios that entice enterprise customers, drive adoption, and will ultimately result in increased revenues.”

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