Dell Bolstering Managed Printer Service Strategy

A solid source says Dell is taking a very close look at the managed print market. At first glance, managed print services are a natural "hardware as a service" (HaaS) opportunity for managed service providers. But as one distribution executive recently told me, most major printer companies have struggled to gain traction with their HaaS initiatives.

Here's what to expect from Dell.

First, some information about the managed print services market.

HaaS offerings like Xerox PagePack provide customers with predictable monthly costs for printing and document management. Those managed print offerings also generate recurring revenue for VARs.

But from what I've seen, most printer companies have been working in a vacuum -- building their own proprietary back-end systems for VARs and MSPs to leverage. Instead, printer manufacturers should aggressively partner with MSP software providers. Xerox PagePack and other managed print services should leverage APIs (application programming interfaces) to plug into all of the major MSP platforms. If that work is already in place, printer companies have done a terrible job promoting those efforts.

Ironically, Dell may be in the best position to jump-start the managed printer services market. Dell pieced together its initial managed print strategy in 2006. But this time around, the company has all of the key technology components under its roof: Dell printers, ink services, as well as Dell managed services platforms (Silverback and Everdream, both of which Dell acquired last year).

I expect Dell to very aggressively articulate and promote its managed print strategy over the next few months.

It begs the question: Where is Hewlett-Packard? HP has largely ignored the managed services market. That's shocking, considering HP printers maintain dominant market share, and HP servers, desktops and laptops rank at or near the top of their respective markets.

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