Moving beyond data collection to actionable insights
As more enterprises are using (or thinking about using) managed print services (MPS) to follow the tried and true path of printing less and managing the print infrastructure, an extended path is leading to greater process improvements for current and future MPS customers. This road is paved with sophisticated analytics that help move MPS in new directions. Navigating through ever-increasing amounts of data requires a partner that can turn this data into a vehicle for business success.
Just because a lot of data exists doesn’t mean it’s valuable. The key is having actionable data for your specific organization. A good MPS provider will do more than guide you through the data (such as copy, print, scan and fax) collected from your print fleet. They’ll help you identify the behaviours that cause specific data points to be out of whack, what those behaviours mean to your business and how you can most effectively act on the information.
According to the 2015 Quocirca Managed Print Services Landscape: “As MPS moves up the value chain and becomes more focused on delivering strategic business impact, analytics promises to be the next key differentiator amongst leading MPS providers.”
“Our MPS customers are looking for greater visibility into what’s going on in their businesses, especially across multiple locations” said Kyle Farmer, vice president of Lexmark MPS sales and marketing. “They’re already using MPS to reduce print volumes and manage their fleets, and now they’re ready to go beyond hardware to improve business processes and workflows.”
These improvements start by collecting data through the customer’s multifunction products (MFPs) and importing that data to a central system. Then the MPS provider can analyze the data to look for anything outside the norms. Then further research, such as interviews with key employees at the customer’s site(s), can be conducted and reported to the customer. Before reviewing the analytics, a large enterprise with hundreds of locations may expect they’ll all look the same. If that’s the case, they’re going to be surprised.
“They aren’t all the same,” said Erin Childress, Senior Manager, Premium Analytics in MPS at Lexmark. “Through next generation MPS analytics, we’re able to give customers a level of visibility down into their operations that they couldn’t get before. Often at headquarters they have a view of how they think things are working but they don’t have a way to validate that. Being able to show them data and allowing them to make data-driven decisions gives them a different way to approach the problem. They’ll see how different locations or functions within their business are behaving.”
Even with the same processes rolled out across all locations, the execution may vary. As an example, Lexmark worked with a major retailer to uncover process inconsistencies across store locations. Data indicated this retailer’s combined copy output from headquarters and stores was twice the level of its peers. What’s more, output from the stores was actually three times the industry norm. Why was this happening?
Lexmark dug deeper and found this retailer hires 80,000 seasonal workers a year and onboards them at the stores. Lots of new hire information had to be transferred from the stores to a central scanning location. By focusing on one of the stores and conducting in-person interviews with managers and key employees, Lexmark discovered the store manager was making back-up copies of the new hire paperwork because she said central scan always lost documents; central scan denied this was happening. Lacking visibility to any of this, headquarters assumed everything was working properly.
“We were able to provide a solution that actually takes all those copies out by using the MFP in the store as the point of capture.” said Childress. Now documents are scanned directly to the network repository—kicking off the employee onboarding workflow from the store MFP instead of each store making copies and sending them in boxes to central scan. Benefits include less paper and toner waste, fewer delays in processing, and reduction in courier and storage costs.
As stated in the 2015 Quocirca Managed Print Services Landscape: “Quocirca believes that leveraging analytics supported by strong industry expertise will be key to driving new levels of insight and innovation across MPS engagements in the long term.”
Some of these insights come from analyzing MFP data, which could include more than 150 metrics. Since high volumes of fax, copy, and print are usually indicators of manual processes, the MPS provider needs to ask why these things are happening in order to identify process optimization opportunities.
“We’re giving customers actionable information, not just a spreadsheet about 2,000 stores and how they behaved. We help them understand what behaviours are going on in those stores,” said Childress. “We’re going to narrow it down, find that needle in a haystack and attack the problem.”
With so much data collected every day, wise customers will work with a managed print services partner that offers more than a bunch of statistics. MPS providers must be willing to provide customers with the analytical insights that optimize processes to benefit the bottom line.
Marketing Business Writer, Lexmark, Intl.
Sharon is a marketing business writer focusing primarily on managed print services. Her professional background includes working as a copywriter for an automotive marketing agency, a software company and a major retailer. She also has experience as a writer and instructor in higher education.