The definition of managed print services, in simplest terms, is: Services offered by an external provider to optimise or manage a company’s document output. This seems straightforward enough. However, how an external provider performs this service can have a big impact on your results.
Many providers rely heavily on a large staff of field service techs to deliver managed print services (MPS). Meaning if something breaks, you call them. They fix it. With a tech on every corner, they can have someone onsite in no time. While a labour-based approach works, it creates burdensome delays and disruptions for you, your staff and your users. In general, you have to experience a failure before corrective action is taken. You need to wait for a tech to arrive, and hope the problem can be fixed right the first time. With this approach, the process starts after the device has an issue.
On the other hand, with a technology-based approach, the process starts before the device has an issue. The system detects potential issues and automatically initiates service requests, so users don’t need to enter a trouble ticket or call the help desk. That’s one advantage of a system that relies more on technology than on labour.
“This approach has proved to be very successful—Lexmark actively manages our hardware, predicting failures before they occur and quickly resolving issues,” said a technology manager for a large global retailer. “This increases store availability, which is the key measure for us. Lexmark is able to schedule engineers, rather than be reactive, so they can more quickly get to the issues that do hit the store.”
In addition, with a labour-based approach, reporting can be problematic. If you’re dependent on manual processes to update device status and record interactions, the risks of errors and inaccurate reporting and billing are significant. These problems are magnified if your enterprise spans more than a single country, as many providers use disparate systems and processes around the world. Basically, a labour-based approach to MPS leaves many gaps that only a technology-based approach can resolve.
Perhaps most importantly, you lose the ability to benefit from rich data mining that can occur when fleet data is collected in a single technology-based system. Your fleet contains volumes of data that can be extremely valuable in improving workflow and document driven processes. So, you could be missing out on important information, depending on the approach your managed print services provider uses.
The key is the ability to capture AND interpret millions of data points about managed print devices. At Lexmark, thanks to our single global system and technology-based approach, that’s exactly what we do.
According to analyst firm IDC: “Data analytics will also become a key differentiator for vendors looking to extend managed print and document services (MPDS) into areas that address greater strategic business value. Leveraging data analytics will offer near-term benefits in areas such as predictive and preemptive service capabilities, creating more efficient and cost-effective service delivery models. Long term, however, data analytics will become crucial as IoT becomes more ubiquitous, and MPDS solutions could be leveraged to improve business intelligence and drive better business outcomes.”
With today’s sophisticated connected devices, it’s reasonable to expect your MPS provider to deliver an accurate, holistic view of your fleet and seamlessly take action to reduce or eliminate disruption for you. Think about all the devices in the modern world that have sensors, software and are on a network as part of the increasingly large Internet of Things (IoT). The insights gained through smart sensors are enabling enterprises to provide services that set them apart from the competition.
“Hardcopy vendors are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that IoT presents in the document ecosystem to proactively and predictively manage not only peripherals—such as print, capture, and display—but also other endpoints within a broader IoT ecosystem,” said Arianna Valentini, senior research analyst, IDC’s Hardcopy Industry Transformation programme. “In addition, they can enable smarter business workflows by taking advantage of the broader IoT ecosystem.”
To take advantage of the technology-based approach to managed print services, make sure to ask your MPS provider questions like these:
1. How are you incorporating the IoT into your service?
2. How can you help me spend less time on print-related activities?
3. What is the first-time fix rate for my fleet?
4. How often are you able to resolve issues before my devices fail?
5. How often are you able to resolve issues without dispatching a service tech?
6. Can I have visibility to real-time performance metrics?
7. Can I see details of my global fleet on a single dashboard?
8. How do you reduce the number of interventions with print devices?
9. What types of data are you collecting from my fleet?
10. How will this data benefit my enterprise?
 Worldwide and U.S. Managed Print and Document Services and Basic Print Services Forecast, 2016–2020, by Robert Palmer, Holly Muscolino, May 2016, Doc # US40183716
 Internet of Things Opportunities for Transforming the Document Solutions Ecosystem, by Arianna Valentini and Angèle Boyd, August 2015, Doc # 258161
Director of Global MPS Marketing,
Tyler is responsible for sales enablement and communications for managed print services, delivering the Lexmark value proposition across the portfolio of hardware, software and services. He joined Lexmark in 2005 and has held several roles, including global industry manager for banking, director of content management practises, enterprise solution specialist and consultant in the retail industry.