In the digital age, print is far from dead, largely because big enterprises have moved away from owning their own print infrastructure, and have instead moved a managed print services model.
Under this MPS model, many companies today pay a per-page cost for the printing they do, while managed print services providers look after the printers and supplies. This relieves big organisations of the responsibility and cost of managing their own printer fleet, while saving them a lot of money.
When it comes to the SMB market, however, things are a little different. While SMBs still largely adhere to the old model, where IT dealers sell them printers and cartridges, their enthusiasm for owning, managing, and servicing their printer hardware themselves is diminishing, so that model won’t be viable forever.
A change in how value-added distributors service the SMB market is thus needed, says Printacom’s managing director, Bernice Hynard.
“Servicing this market requires a new approach that turns printing into a simple, cost-effective, flexible and hassle-free service. To develop this model, we will need to look at how and why companies in the mid-market print,” Hynard says.
Even though we’re firmly into the digital age and screens are everywhere, people still love physical documents as they offer a look and feel that images and text on a screen just can’t match.
“A colour brochure or a nicely finished catalogue still have a tactile power you won’t get from a webpage, so many companies still use printed collateral for marketing, despite its costs,” Hynard adds.
The biggest obstacle for SMBs to move to a managed print service model is that they don’t print at the same volumes that big enterprises do, and their printing requirements – and volumes – fluctuate from month to month and across industries. This is why charging SMBs a per-page cost doesn’t make sense, and why a re-think of the SMB printing model is needed.
Addressing these challenges requires that the channel put together solutions that meet these fluctuating needs in the most efficient manner, says Hynard. However, this represents a new way of selling, and furthermore requires that the channel avoids “becoming siloed behind vendor offerings”.
This isn’t something that comes easily to resellers and distributors alike… yet.
Hynard thinks that we could see a return to the days of print bureaus, where SMBs make use of print shops for their printing needs. We might also see the rise of subscription models, where customers effectively rent printers and consumables on a service plan. Right now, though, the future of the SMB printing model is unclear.
“With most mid-market businesses looking to reduce costs, simplify IT and become more agile, the channel is under pressure to innovate. Printing – something that resellers and end-users alike take for granted – is an area where some fresh thinking and a new approach is arguably overdue,” Hynard concludes.
[Source: Media Release]