Document Management? Really?

You know the managed print market is getting more competitive when companies start doing contortions to differentiate themselves from everyone else. Case in point: Managed Document Services.

The idea here, of course, is that by aligning your services with “documents” you’ll somehow appear more sophisticated than a manager of “print.” And by extension, end users shouldn’t commit to working with someone who stops at right-sizing your print environment, controlling consumables spending and performing maintenance/break-fix duties. You should align yourself with someone who thinks bigger thoughts, namely a provider who can engineer new workflow processes for electronic documents and ultimately construct a document management system that oversees content through the whole creation to elimination lifecycle.

In short, someone pushing MDS must be better than an MPS specialist.

But I don’t buy it. We all know it takes a commitment of resources and a willingness to evolve business models to succeed with MPS. VARs and MSPs that do that successfully say the effort is well worth it in terms of revenues and profits. If that’s you, I say congratulations.

But does that mean you’re now positioned to simply “upsell” a little workflow here and a little document management? I doubt it. Maybe in time you’ll start hiring some experienced sales and technical talent to do that and take a new look at your business model. But in the meantime, don’t lose your focus on the core service—those right-sizing analyses and service contracts that are generating profits in a market that’s finally ready to take off.

Maybe I’m totally off base to think workflow and document management are separate disciplines and should be respected as such. Maybe I’m unimaginative and thinking too much in the box. I don’t think so—what do you think?