Managed Print Services: Threat or Opportunity for MSPs?
One of the underlying conversations at the 2011 N-able Partner Summit involves managed print services. Indeed, two of the event’s sponsors are Oki and Xerox, which both have been putting on their managed print services game faces of late. In some ways, MSPs must now compete with printer and copier dealers. But Oki and Xerox also want to partner with MSPs.
To hear Mike Cullen, N-able’s VP of Sales, tell it, managed print services represent a huge opportunity for MSPs – if they can prepare now.
“Increased competition is coming,” he said, as the copier and printer dealers look to back into the managed services space through a managed print offering. “In the past the manufacturers have taken the approach where they either buy or build their way into managed services, and that will continue. Now there’s the copier dealer network and they are migrating toward this space.”
But why these guys, and why now? Cullen pointed to a period of dormancy after years of incredible growth in the printer and copier space, when such companies had more money than they knew what to do with.
“Copier guys with too much money are like drunken sailors – they were, at one time, buying companies left and right,” he said. But they were buying specialty companies such as those that only offered Lotus Notes, for example, rather than general IT companies. “And that strategy failed miserably. So they’re being much more cautious now,” he said, with many using a multitiered strategy that involves both acquisitions and organic learning.
But what the copier companies have that makes them a threat to MSPs is coverage, Cullen said.
“You can take [a copier company’s] direct sales force and have coverage across the board,” he said.
Which means MSPs offering or contemplating managed print services need to strike now while the opportunity is there, especially with their existing customer base.
“Keep those [copier and printer] guys out of your accounts,” he said. “Having a managed print service gives you the ability to plug that hole that exists in your customer accounts.
“We’re seeing MSPs adding managed print services as a revenue opportunity as much as a defense mechanism,” he added. “So partnering with vendors such as Oki or Xerox that have those complete fulfillment processes in place, you’re making margin but you’re also keeping these guys out of your customers.”