Thursday, July 23, 2009

Managed Print Services definitional dust-up: tempest in a teapot?

A number of industry insiders, including at least three of my fellow printer industry bloggers, have been following and commenting on the seemingly strange and confused reaction from the Printing Industries of America (PIA) at the time of HP's MPS announcement last Monday, July 13th (see "HP (NYSE HPQ) Guarantees Print Savings").

Patrick Henry ("PIA Says It’s Wary of New Managed Print Services Offerings by HP"), Rob Sethre ("An Odd Case of Mistaken MPS Identity"), Greg Walters ("Strange Twist - Managed Print Services is Redefined Again: Printing Industry of America"), and finally Clint Bolte, guesting on Pat's blog ("Managed Print Services Emerges as Market Niche") have all shed light on the topic. It mostly seems like a simple mix-up over what most see as HP's (and by proxy, the entire printer/copier industry's) pursuit of more of a hands-on role in the management of enterprise customers' printing and copying functions. Dubbed "Managed Print Services", once advertising and other press activities reached a critical mass, the

While the most part I agree with the bloggers about mass confusion and unclear semantics overriding common sense in many of the arguments, some of the growing number of comments to the WhatTheyThink post have me thinking and reflecting, too.

During my career working at HP, I was around for the emergence of the "printing pie" chart that has come to be famous as the "one-slide strategy presentation" still commonly used by many in the industry. The idea of the chart, in its many variations, is to show today's digital printing volumes, based on pages or other metrics, as a relatively small slice of the overall (digital plus analog) print universe. Make no mistake, at the very highest level, that "pie" is a tool to describe the vast opportunity that exists, 15 years ago or today, in converting analog to digital pages.

While we see many tactical implementations, whether by Company A or Company B, or division X or division Y of Company H, the underlying goal is generally the same. In the biggest of all pictures, all printing is connected, from commercial print on the high end to simple pen-and-paper and typewriters on the lowest end. Ask the latter -- did digital printing change your business? Did Royal and Smith Corona need to be concerned?

And of course in marketing and economics we also try to look beyond direct competition to substitute goods and services. What about "not printing"?

Just something more to think about!

1 comment:

Greg Walters said...

Jim -

At first I was in a state of shock - I have now become more reflective to the P4P guys' view...albeit, a somewhat paranoid view.

But how does that saying go?

"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't after you.." or something.

I do not consider my style of MPS a threat to the invitation printing industry - but others can certainly see otherwise.