Managed Print Services: MSPs Can Own the Customer Relationship

At the Managed Print Services Conference this week, I spoke to Photizo Group Senior Client Advisor David Cameron, who focuses on managed print channels and programs. He's also president and CEO of Cameron Consulting Group. I asked Cameron to fill me in on the evolving managed print market. We also discussed how VARs and MSPs can overcome barriers to entry in the managed print market, while owning customer relationships for the long haul.

Our starting point for the conversation: Only about 20 percent of MSPmentor 100 survey participants have adopted managed print services. What is it going to take for that figure to climb? Cameron described a few variables, saying some MSPs may not have the energy or the focus to develop what is needed to truly offer a managed print service. But he was optimistic: "MSPs have the potential to change the entire industry, because of the nature of their business already. [MSPs already] have the top five to six capabilities needed to provide managed print services…It's natural for MSPs. I'd be surprised if their customers weren't saying, 'Oh, what can you do for us in managed print?'"

To sell managed print services, MSPs have to think like the end-customer. The common end customer need is easily stated: "I don't want to run out of supplies [and] I want someone else dealing with [printer] headaches," said Cameron. "Leaning how to match up that technology with business is part of crafting the deal and making it work."

Also, MSPs have the opportunity to sit between vendors and customers, ultimately owning the customer relationship and providing guidance without vendor interference. In the world of managed services, OEMs and vendors are "taken out of the decision," said Cameron, explaining that they lose an end-user relationship, but can gain business when they work with the service industry.

Despite vendor presence at the MPS conference, vendors were hardly the topic of conversation. Again, it seemed the real issue was establishing the infrastructure to provide a managed services practice itself.

Lastly, I asked how the cloud fits in with managed print services, since digital file sharing and collaboration are closely related to print services -- and perhaps even the paperless office. "I don't know that cloud and paperless go together in the same sentence," said a smiling Cameron. "Cloud is a way to share resources…communicate." Cameron mused about how there  is real use for real paper, but managed print services could also be about teaching customers about when not to print. He called it "process enhancement."

Cameron said that businesses with as little as 20 devices could easily benefit from managed print services. "I'm excited about profitability in that space," said Cameron. We'll be watching to see if more MSPs plug into that enthusiasm.

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