Print run: What’s next for MPS?
With third-platform technologies such as cloud and mobility entering the fray, managed print services is in for something of a shake-up.
In today’s economic environment it’s important for organisations to keep costs down. For most businesses, the ongoing expenses related to office printing — cost-per-print, routine maintenance and servicing — is high, and provides a great opportunity for significant, cumulative savings.
Over recent years, managed print services (MPS) has emerged as a key solution to take control of those expenses, and its benefits are, by this point, well documented. Many vendors offer solutions in the Middle East region, but there is still much room for growth, plus customer demands are evolving.
When it comes to the MPS solutions on offer in the Middle East, the majority of global MPS providers, such as HP, Brother, Xerox and Lexmark are working closely with local distributors to support customers. In addition there are also local providers who are offering their own MPS programmes.
“In the most comprehensive MPS programmes the provider takes responsibility for assessing the customer’s needs, helping the customer map out an optimal target state, and then managing the transition from the current state to the target state over a period of months or years. This includes providing equipment, supplies, maintenance services, parts, software and services for tracking and managing the printers and MFPs over time. That is the most complete version, but in the Middle East, as in other regions, customers may end up with a narrower subset of services,” notes Ken Weilerstein, research vice president, Imaging and Print Services Team, at Gartner.
As for the current state of the MPS market in the Middle East, growth differs depending on where you look. For example, IDC has found significant growth in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE over recent years, however, Roberto Alunni, research manager, IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa notes that overall the Gulf market is still significantly underpenetrated.
“MPS has gone from barely being on the map five years ago to something that many distributors of office printers and MFPs now offer,” agrees Weilerstein. “Having said that, it is not nearly as widely accepted in this region as it is in Western Europe, the UK, North America or the mature economies in Eastern Asia.”
When it comes to sector demand, Alunni also notes that interest is highest in the finance vertical, but activity continues to be stable across industry segments including education, healthcare, hospitality and logistics.
In addition the MPS customer is changing, with vendors noting a rise in interest from SMEs.
“2015 has seen the emergence of more needs for the SME segment on top of [the] existing market in bigger enterprises and [the] government sector because of more interest in efficient office automation,” says Salem Nishi, deputy general manager, Brother.
But as SMEs are getting in on the action, the more established customers are now examining possible new benefits when it comes to MPS.
“Many organisations have already looked at the basic MPS to reduce cost and optimise legacy environments. Now the leading organisations are exploring mobility, security and automation benefits within their current infrastructure,” highlights Simon Howells, manager, Managed Print Services, Xerox Middle East & Africa.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) has seen many of its customers in the Middle East move from buying printers to buying print services, and now its early adopters are pushing the envelope further, as Kostas Psarras, HP’s regional Managed Services business manager.
“We have seen a shift from transactional to contractual printing and print solutions, such as security, workflow and mobile printing,” he says.
The benefits of MPS are well known, with improved control, workforce productivity and reduced costs being at the top of the list, but for many customers an important consideration is security. The majority find that implementing an MPS solution actually makes the print environment more secure, as it involves an analysis of the existing print environment, including who has access to sensitive documents and creates a new formalised system and list of procedures.
“Organisations are proactively outsourcing their printing services to benefit from increased document security as part of more stringent security policies,” notes Shadi Bakhour, Canon Emirates general manager.
“A managed service can be set up where only authorised documents can be printed, reducing the chance of any sensitive or confidential information being left at printers or forgotten. Also, Canon can enable a company to identify and optimise all possible processes for ensuring the security of data,” he adds.