As Hewlett-Packard, Oki Data and other IT vendors push deeper into the managed print services (MPS) market, some managed service providers are making plans for a managed print conference in Europe. Here are some quick details and bigger-picture perspectives.
To me, the managed print market seems ready for lift-off because (A) many customers already lease their printers (B) all customers need paper and ink refreshes (C) solutions providers can tie together A and B into a complete hardware as a service (HaaS) offering.
Still, the managed print market has been hit-and-miss because (A) many printer vendors are still sorting out their offerings and (B) many vendors are still working to integrate their printers into open APIs (application programming interfaces) offered by MSP software providers.
Vendors Making Progress?After several false starts, printer makers finally seem serious about their managed print efforts.
One reason: Seven out of 10 MSPs are interested in managed print, according to a March 2009 reader poll by MSPmentor.
In recent days, Oki Data Americas launched a Total Managed Print initiative for its dealers and solutions providers. And Hewlett-Packard has formed an internal group to help drive managed print services forward, according to PC World.
I checked in with HP for more details. Initially, HP's managed print effort involves direct sales to top enterprise customers, with a channel strategy still emerging.
"HP does sell MPS directly to its top enterprise customers," according to an HP spokesman. "The current offering is not scaleable for smaller implementations. However, we recognize the tremendous opportunities around MPS for mid sized and small enterprise customers and are currently assessing our MPS offering to scale solutions specifically for our channel partners."
Translation: Stay tuned for HP's managed print channel strategy.
Also of note, Xerox continues to push its PagePack effort -- a recurring revenue opportunity for VARs and MSPs -- across the US and Europe.
Finally, Dell, Ingram Micro and the Utility Company each have started some managed print initiatives.
Events and EducationThe managed print buzz is now spilling over into the events and conference business. It's safe to expect managed print services to be a key topic of discussion at both CompTIA Breakaway (Aug. 3-6, Las Vegas) and the CompTIA Managed IT Services Summit (Oct. 7-9, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.). Disclosure: MSPmentor will be moderating sessions at Breakaway and we're attending the Managed IT Services Summit.
Meanwhile, Photizo Group plans to host a Managed Print Services Conference, Oct. 21-23 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Previously, Photizo Group held an April 2009 conference in San Antonio, Texas, which was attended by IT managers, facilities managers, purchasing departments, solutions providers and hardware manufacturers.
Generally speaking, conferences don't grow and thrive without healthy interest from vendors trying to reach customers, and confused customers trying to find clear answers from vendors.
In other words, I think the managed print services market has reached its tipping point.
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