Quocirca’s recent research reveals that SMBs are becoming more confident in their adoption of managed pint services (MPS). However, the approach taken leads to varying levels of success.
SMBs are the backbone to any economy—according to the European Commission they represent more than 99% of businesses. Like their enterprise counterparts, SMBs rely on technology as an enabler to drive business productivity.
However, most SMBs are constrained by limited budgets and a lack of IT resources. Consequently, they need to do more with less, ensure their technology is up to date and safeguard their capital expenditure budgets. This has led many SMBs towards the cloud as a utility model of IT consumption.
This growing use of the cloud is driving broader adoption of the managed services model amongst SMBs. Consequently, managed print services (MPS) are growing in popularity as a way to tackle the huge cost and productivity drain created by unmanaged printing.
Quocirca’s latest survey shows that 75% of SMBs rely on printing to support their business activities. Yet overall, half of SMBs are struggling to control costs. Left uncontrolled, printing can be a significant administrative burden—think ordering and stocking of ink, toner, managing service contracts and dealing with daily print issues. Printer downtime can have a significant impact on productivity and business continuity—indeed, over 40% cite device reliability as their second print management challenge, after cost control.
All this can be mitigated with a managed print service. MPS contracts are typically billed on a monthly or quarterly basis, encompassing hardware (purchased or leased) along with service and supplies (ink, toner), based on a cost-per-page model. Monthly or quarterly billing enables reduced capital expenditure and predictable expenses.
Automation is key to the success of any effective managed service. Through proactive service and supplies management, the typical ad hoc manual purchasing of consumables is eliminated, leaving SMB staff free to focus on core business activities. Meanwhile, uptime and availability of devices can be maximised through remote monitoring, which can also help track usage and help SMBs tackle escalating costs.
Quocirca’s research shows that SMB confidence in MPS is growing with 50% of existing customers expanding their current MPS footprint (MPS expanders) and 43% of non-users (MPS converters) expecting to invest in their first basic print service during 2014. MPS can certainly have a positive impact on business performance—reducing costs, improving productivity and lowering the IT burden. Those organisations using MPS are more satisfied with the management, control and performance of their print infrastructure than those not using MPS.
In fact, it is those further along their journey with a full MPS who are most satisfied. The use of solutions such as document workflow is seen as particularly critical to success. Those SMBs with MPS that have also invested in such workflow tools display the highest satisfaction levels.
The diverse nature of the SMB market demands a range of MPS approaches to suit individual business needs. For smaller SMBs, with a small device fleet based on one brand, a basic print service is a good first step. However, to exploit the true benefits of MPS, SMBs should investigate a broader MPS model that encompasses document workflow.
Here the multifunction peripheral (MFP) can play a key role in supporting business processes by integrating paper and digital workflow. This will drive not only further savings—financial and environmental—but also improve business productivity.
As the market develops, SMBs will be looking to channel partners to guide their decisions around MPS. Fortunately many printer vendors are expanding their channel-led programmes to help their partners capture the software and services opportunity. In the long term, partners that can offer a range of scalable and flexible software and service offerings that adapt to varying business needs, will be most likely to succeed.
Quocirca’s study examines the print management challenges that SMBs, the factors driving MPS adoption and the future outlook for the market.
Read the MPS Opportunity for SMBs report.