Managed Print Trend Watch: Xerox eConcierge™ Has Arrived

We’ve got some great news here at the Business Transformation site, but it comes with a caveat.

After a recent call with Jim Salzer, a friend to the BT site and president of managed print consultancy DocuAudit International, we realized we should escalate the urgency level around managed print services. Why? Well, two reasons: First, customer adoption of traditional network managed services has set the table for a more rapid adoption of managed print services. And second, the arrival of a new cloud-based supplies sales platform call Xerox eConcierge™ means you can cater to the print supplies needs of customers not quite ready to add full-fleet managed print services.

When we spoke with Jim Salzer last year about the outlook for managed print, he noted how critical it was for solution providers to strike while the iron was hot.

Today, that sense of urgency has definitely increased, Jim told us. And fueling that sense of urgency is Xerox eConcierge, which we believe is going to change the way customers think about managed print services and drive them to more quickly adopt it.

Announced in April, Xerox eConcierge is a cloud-based platform that enables business customers to monitor their printer supplies consumption across their networked printer fleet (including HP and Lexmark machines) and reorder supplies through you, their solution provider partner. It’s a great way to show customers what they are really spending on print, which helps move them into a more comprehensive managed print service like Xerox’s PagePack solution. And Jim says don’t delay checking it out.

“It is getting somewhat late, so you’d better have a well-thought-out program that is well-planned, well-executed,” he says. “Earlier on, we told people you can afford to make mistakes. But at this stage you’ve got to be beyond making mistakes.”

Managed print services are on the uptick, according to solution provider surveys conducted by the Institute for Partner Education & Development (IPED). And right now, many potential customers are being attracted to, or considering signing, managed print contracts. But there is still plenty of room for new players to succeed if they act in the next 18 months, according to Jim, who reminds us that there are “a lot more business customers that are not under contract than are.”

According to the latest figures Jim has seen, about 10 percent of companies are under some sort of managed print contract. “That means nine out of every 10 are still not under contract,” he says. “So we’re not going to worry about the ones under contract. There are too many people without any kind of print management.”

Indeed, the market is ripe for opportunity, but it has also grown very competitive over the past year or so, Jim notes. If you lack a focused sales and operations program, and don’t stand out from competitors, you’ve got an uphill climb ahead to win over customers.

Jim Salzer, DocuAudit International

“The time is now to get moving on delivering managed print. There is too much technology arriving to make it easy for competitors to add managed print, so the time to act is now.”
— Jim Salzer, DocuAudit International

Jim continues to recommend that newcomers to the market initially focus on small and midsize accounts and avoid going after larger enterprises. “They’re really not ready to accommodate that kind of deal on their first go-round,” he says. “There are lots of resources required to serve those kinds of customers.”

While some resellers have success going after the big accounts right away, they usually have to devote a huge amount of their resources to those accounts, and as a result have to drop whatever else they’re doing—which ultimately hurts the business.

“The question becomes is that the best way to make money, or are you better off going after smaller accounts and doing five or six at once,” Jim says. “It’s a learning process.”

Which industries are particularly ripe for managed print services? There’s really no limit in terms of sectors that can benefit from managed print. But Jim says DocuAudit has had a lot of success recently going after customers in the health-care and education markets. That includes clients such as small, private universities, and hospitals and medical clinics.

Overall, Jim sees a bright year ahead for managed print services. On the technology side, he expects to see a continued push toward the development of devices that are able to communicate and provide more information over the network.

For example, software improvements will communicate more information about the need for supplies or support, which should simplify the management of those machines, he says. “There have been improvements every year, and I expect that to continue.”

Jim says that the arrival of Xerox eConcierge is a big step for solution providers wanting to more quickly show customers about the value of managed print services. “It’s for the customer who doesn’t yet want to take the whole step of moving to managed print,” he says of Xerox eConcierge. “It’s a positive step in the sense that people who have nothing else now can benefit from more efficient printing operations.”

But as far as managing device workflow and enabling customers to be more productive and get the most out of their devices, that can only be provided by a full managed print service such as Xerox PagePack, he says.

“What the new development does do for customers is provide them with more options about how to acquire materials and support for their devices. We’re not saying that managed print has got to be one- size-fits-all. This gives them control over supplies deliveries.”

More key developments in managed print are sure to come over the next year, and if you’re considering entering this business, the time is now.

“You can’t be sitting on the sidelines much longer,” Jim says.

Find out more about Xerox eConcierge here at the Business Transformation Center.

Full-fleet management of third-party printers, single cost-per-page printing in color or B&W, faster and more accurate quotes, and a proven managed print formula that makes you money.

Get the PagePack basics right here.

Join the Managed Print Services Community and get email updates when new field reports arrive!