CIOs have long been focusing on making IT a driver for growth, using strategies such as IT consolidation and simplification to create business value with limited spend. Frequently, printing is an afterthought when it comes to controlling and managing IT costs. Despite the abundance of printed communications across businesses of all sizes, few CIOs are aware of the cost, complexity or risk of operating an unmanaged print environment—all of which can be mitigated through using a managed print service (MPS).
The reality that faces many businesses is a print environment that is out of control. A patchwork of devices from different manufacturers requiring different supplies, service contracts and software means that it is almost impossible to have a single view of what is being printed, by whom and where. Whilst today’s multifunction peripherals (MFPs) are sophisticated document processing hubs which can capture, print, copy and store with speed and convenience, their network connectivity and ability to store data on hard drives brings inherent security risks. Failure to protect and manage these devices can leave an organisation exposed to both spiralling costs as well as security risks.
Some enterprises are now turning to MPS to reduce the cost, complexity and risk associated with an unmanaged print infrastructure. It is estimated that up to 30% can be saved on printing costs through the use of MPS—but the value can extend well beyond the basic cost. MPS can create business value by using existing resources more productively, allowing a business to focus on core competencies while outsourcing non-core printing functions such as service and support. As well as providing flexibility, skills and technology, MPS can also improve the predictability of expenditure on an Opex basis—while removing the hardware costs from the Capex budget.
MPS provides an assessment of the existing device fleet, analysing print usage and then determining a consolidation and on-going management strategy that aims to maximise productivity while reducing costs. Sharing fewer devices amongst more users, replacing out-dated single function printers with MFPs and implementing workflow solutions can all help reduce both financial and environmental costs, tighten document security and boost utilisation rates. Centralised management tools offer reporting and auditing capabilities which provide enterprises with the visibility they need to understand print costs.
Quocirca estimates that around 20% of enterprises have adopted some level of MPS, with more businesses beginning to evaluate it. Today the market is highly competitive and dominated by Xerox and HP. Both companies continue to expand their offerings in a bid to capture enterprise mindshare. But despite the clear benefits of MPS, it has yet to reach the radar of priorities for the majority of CIOs, for whom printing is often the poor relation, sitting on the periphery of the IT infrastructure.
This could be about to change as CIOs are increasingly focused on technologies and modular services which can be deployed cheaply, scaled quickly and easily adapted. Quocirca believes the following three CIO priorities can be achieved through MPS:
- Reducing costs: Technologies such as virtualisation, cloud computing and managed services all allow businesses to adjust costs and resources quickly, as required. As a core part of a managed services strategy, MPS can deliver high performance whilst helping to control costs and allow companies to benefit from an optimised print infrastructure with minimal (or often no) capital investment. MPS can be scalable and benefits companies of all sizes.
- Reducing risk: Information security is high on the agenda for every CIO, yet few appreciate the risks that today’s advanced MFPs bring. Without taking the correct control of the print environment, businesses are leaving themselves wide open to confidential or sensitive data being lost or hijacked. These risks can be easily mitigated by implementing solutions such as ‘pull printing’ which ensures documents are only released on authentication, encrypting hard drives of MFPs and auditing usage of features such as scan to email, print or copy.
- Enterprise mobility: Mobility solutions should become a key component of MPS, as an estimated 60 to 80% of employees are mobile workers—whether on the road or working from home. Solutions such as pull printing and universal print drivers enable employees to access documents from any location within a managed print environment. Meanwhile, solutions such as ePrint from HP provide direct mobile printing capabilities. These types of solutions can be wrapped up within MPS, and enable enterprises to provide their employees with the highest level of print productivity.
Businesses now have a growing choice of MPS offerings from vendors such as Canon, HP, Lexmark, Ricoh and Xerox. When evaluating providers businesses need to be aware that cost is only one issue, with risk mitigation and value creation being just as important. Therefore, enterprises should pay close consideration to the skills, performance, SLA flexibility and customisation capabilities of any potential provider.
Read Quocirca’s latest report on the MPS market: MPS Comes of Age.
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11th February 2011: 'Andy Jones, Xerox Europe' said:
Really interesting article, and I'd agree that CIOs are becoming much more aware of MPS as a way to maximise efficiencies and increase cost savings. We're finding that businesses are becoming increasingly informed about the benefits of a more controlled print environment, and the potential savings certainly can be substantial. One customer, defence electronics supplier Selex Galileo, recently extended its enterprise print services contract with Xerox, after saving 15% on its printing costs over an initial two year period.
And this is, in my opinion, the key thing about managed print services. It isn't a quick fix. It's a fundamental shift in your business processes. Something that I'm pleased to see the writer enforces in this article.
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