The Ideal MPS Imaging Device
- By Mike Huster
- Jun 01, 2012
The transformation to managed print services (MPS) has been a pain point for many manufacturers, resellers and even end users. It is likely the most significant event the printing and imaging industry has ever experienced. The business model change from hardware (and transaction-based) sales to service-based sales is an area in which OEMs and resellers continue to struggle. Training MPS sales reps, technical personnel and, in effect, the entire dealer/reseller community has moved beyond the basics to a real transformation of the attitude and thinking of that company. MPS has become as much a part of “putting marks on paper” as texting has
Despite this movement to MPS, most printers and MFPs have been designed for transactional sales, not for services. Manufacturers by nature have a device focus. OEMs want to provide the best device for end users as well as for their distribution partners that will enable the factory to manufacture and sell more of their portfolio. There is nothing inherently wrong with this picture; however, the best device in the past does not necessarily make it the best device for MPS going forward.
So far, printing and imaging devices have been designed to minimize shipping costs, minimize break/fix service and encourage early supplies replenishment — for example, with low ship-with-equipment (SWE) or starter cartridges. From a consultant’s viewpoint, an MPS-ready device should be designed to be services-centric and incorporate some, if not all, of the elements shown on Page 58. These have been organized into three major component groups: physical, networking and application components. This loosely follows part of the seven-layer Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model and is descriptive in name only, not with respect to true function. In the description shown below, only three of the seven layers are used.
- GPS to support assessment and moves/adds/changes/deletes (MACD): This would be handy for capturing locations of devices for assessments and for the typical MACD as MPS providers optimize the fleet over the length of the contract.
- Very high-yield ship-with-equipment supplies: Instead of the current low SWE cartridges, having very high-yield SWE cartridges would be advantageous from a reduction of supplies replenishment perspective.
- Multiple high-cap media drawers: Some departments need to have various media types (such as recycled paper) and thicknesses. Media drawers should be designed and installed with the customer in mind.
- Control panel remote support: The idea behind this is to provide help desk staff with the ability to view what a user sees on the control panel and also to be able to control the device from anywhere in the world, as long as it is on the network. In addition, help desk staff can show the user how to complete a function or diagnose and fix problems without deploying a technician to the device. Sharp has started to include a similar function on some of its MFPs.
- Cloud-based monitoring: To increase simplicity for end-user IT departments, have this “out-of-the-box” configured for remote monitoring — a key to customer satisfaction.
- Intelligent remote install based on company print policies: This assumes the company has already completed a behavioral print assessment and defined mono/color policies, finishing options, etc.
- Remotely downloadable configurations and upgrades: Somewhat similar to the universal print driver (UPD) mentioned below, this capability will increase end-user satisfaction.
- Mobile print support: This, tied to the smart controller platform (see below), enables cloud-printing technology to be implemented seamlessly.
- Prevention diagnostics: Having the ability to diagnose with sensors and then correct or fix problems before they occur is beneficial.
- Secure de-install: This includes a nonrecoverable erase of the hard drive and NVRAM. It should be possible via remote command.
- Support for broad-area business analytics: One of the later steps in MPS is the move to business analytics through workflow and business process optimization. It’s time to entertain this component now.
- Universal print driver: Newer UPDs can print user ID and information directly on the document to eliminate banner pages and waste. Dynamic reconfiguration allows driver settings to be deployed remotely across the entire customer base.
- Biometric security: Along with pull (or PIN) printing, this component is necessary in highly confidential areas.
- Smart controller platform: An example of this is the HP FutureSmart Controller architecture that provides a mechanism for MPS vendors to update device capabilities (while it is in the field) and to extend deployment life.
- Open MIB to support third-party platforms: Wouldn’t it be encouraging to have a MIB that follows open-source methodology?
- AI-based supplies replenishment: Having a device with the ability to learn user patterns could be ported to supplies replenishment without much trouble.
In MPS deployments, three basic strategies for ensuring profitable engagements for the vendor are:
- Extend the life of the existing fleet.
- Avoid vendor staff (service or technician) interactions with the print devices.
- Avoid any “logistical” cost with supporting the fleet. For example, avoid the cost of shipping a supply item, not just the cost of a tech to change it.
The components mentioned above have the advantage of accomplishing all of these tasks. One of Photizo’s mantras with the vendor community has been emphasizing the need to design MPS-ready or MPS-specific products. The above list illustrates our thoughts on what a true MPS-ready device would accomplish from both a vendor and end-user point of view.
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Recharger.
Mike Huster is director of Client Services with the Photizo Group. He has been in the hard copy and technology industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for IBM and Lexmark in a variety of management positions in engineering, sales, finance, e-commerce and worldwide marketing. Recognizing the MPS trend, Huster seized the opportunity to join Photizo as a senior partner in 2006. Huster has held a variety of analyst roles at Photizo prior to his current role. For more information, visit www.photizogroup.com.