Monday, October 24, 2011

Intec Inspires Hope Through Consumables

Our new product line of graphic arts printers from Intec Printing Solutions offers the ability to give to those in need, simply by purchasing toner and other consumables for your printer.

From the Intec website:

"Every consumable purchased for your Intec printer will generate a donation to charity.

At Intec Printing Solutions we believe that we make a better world for everyone when we offer the gift of hope to those far less fortunate than ourselves. That is why we are proud to have supported an orphanage in southern Asia for several years. Every Intec consumable purchased generates a donation towards this excellent charity, which Intec supports by visiting in the field and ensuring that all proceeds actually go to those who really need the help.

Other projects supported in southern Asia over the last couple of years include building a church and community centre. These cater for up to 500 people and provide support and education to the rural poor in the tea growing highlands. Also a school has been built providing education to more than 50 children that would not otherwise receive an education.

Additionally, Intec supports a number of charitable organisations around the world.

Thank you for your partnership with us in this matter."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Amanda Rogerson Speaks On MPS

This is a guest post from PrintFleet MPS Advisor, Amanda Rogerson. I met Amanda within the past month or so through twitter. While she has been commenting about some of my blog posts via twitter and sharing my content, I wanted to give her the chance to speak out on MPS here. As you will find in this post, Amanda clearly understands what elements are necessary for greatness in this industry. For those of you just starting in MPS or finding yourselves struggling, this post will be a most useful guide for your consideration.

We have developed user groups, research firms, have done studies, best practice boards have been pulled together, and committees organized to define and shape this intangible idea; ‘the Holy Grail’ of the Imaging industry – Managed Print Services (aka MPS). In my opinion within a very short time we have matured this concept very quickly. More and more businesses are going to market with MPS programs; this is excellent and a sure sign that MPS is the wave of the future. I have had the pleasure in my short years in this industry to speak to over 500 different dealerships across the USA and CANADA about Managed Print Services. These dealers have been from all verticals, different buying groups, and different tenures within the market: all with ideals and ideas about what MPS is. Though I still find myself in a relative shock due to the number of people that I hear say, “of course we’re in MPS we bill on a CPP”.

It has been frustrating... Why? Well for starters MPS is so much more than just billing on CPP. An MPS program that is defined as being a CPP contract stripes the MPS concept of all it's value. This narrow definition is one of the main reasons why I see dealers flounder with their MPS program. In general they have not developed a complete program, they have just bundled everything together into a CPP contract program and taken it to market. They don’t do assessments, their sales force isn’t compensated on MPS deals, and they lack a compelling story for their program.

In discussions with both dealers that are doing well and that are struggling, I’ve picked up a thing or two about what helps drive the MPS engine forward. There seems to be some core fundamentals of business, that all these companies are ‘doing MPS’ and failing, seem to have forgotten.

As I see it, there are some of the basic questions to ask as you dive into the deep end of the MPS pool, or drink the Kool-Aid as some people view it:

1. Where does MPS fit in to your current business?

Determine where you want this new product offering to sit in your line-up. Is it your leading value proposition to your clients? Is it a way to generate more revenue in existing accounts? Is it a defensive tactic to lock out competition? Or is it a new sales approach to target larger prospects? If the top level of your company cannot define what you want to do in the MPS space, it’s difficult for your sales team to deliver the program to the market. If you’re just getting into MPS because “that’s what the cool kids are doing” and don’t have the structure or support for it internally you are setting yourself up for failure.

2. What is your MPS program?

Once you’ve figured out where MPS sits in your current business model, you have to decide what exactly you are going to offer as an MPS program. By definition MPS is a broad over-reaching offering that could contain many elements. From what I’ve seen, what you set out for as your goal with MPS will be moulded and shaped by your customers’ expectations. But having a clear framework for what you want to offer as your MPS value proposition will help you avoid deals that you aren’t structured internally to support. That’s not to say that as your program matures and you expand your knowledge on how to actually manage a fleet you won’t add more facets to your program as you grow. As you get more sophisticated your offering can. Consider carefully what it means to truly offer a Managed Print Program, and what your definition is of your MPS program.

3. What is my differentiator?

On the heels of the last point, what makes you any different than any of the other thousand MPS providers in North America? Why are you so special? If you lead with just a CPP contract program you might find that you still play the price game, where you are haggled to the tiniest fraction of a penny. But if you lead with a cost analysis assessment of their current fleet, you’re still likely proposing a CPP pricing model at the end of the assessment – but rather than just tossing a number out and hoping it sticks will get exposure and visibility to their environment. You'll be able to act more like a trusted consultant rather than just another product vendor. Do a SWOT analysis of your immediate competitors, and while you’re at it don’t forget the big boys, because whether you like it or not, they are moving into your space.

4. What are my Goals?

And if you simply answer – make more money, you’re not thinking big enough. If you’re a copier dealer think about how many MIF’s you have, do you realize that studies show for every 1 copier there are 4-10 printers (depending on the study you read). If you think about that then your goal should be to take complete ownership of every device in every account you have equipment placed in. How many net new accounts do you want to see by the end of the year? Net new pages? Net new revenue can be in there but set a goal for it specific to your MPS program. Declare “we want 100k in new MPS contract business” and then figure out how you’re going to get it and go for it. Once again, be sure your back end processes are in place and you can handle it.

5. How am I going to drive my program?

Multiple additional questions sprout from this one. Do you hire a SME otherwise known as the MPS specialist? Do you enlist your whole sales force to jump on the MPS band wagon? There really is no cookie cutter answer. You will have to evaluate your current business model –see point 1, determine what your program is going to be –see point 2, decide how you’re going to deliver it – see point 3 and determine where you want your program to go – see point 4. Based on what you’ve already explored you’ll be able to determine the best course of action. A key factor in driving the rep activity is going to relate to my next question…

6. How am I going to incent my program?

This is really not as complicated as people seem to make it. There is no magic formula for compensating on an MPS program. The key is that the commission structure that is driving the reps behavior is going to be huge in delivering a successful program. Your traditional equipment rep will not be in love with the idea of 30-60 day assessments unless they see something that will validate the time they will need to spend on the deal. Once they start to see the potential revenues they will jump on board, it’s just getting them to that point. Look at your existing commission structure and consider how you can tweak it, without over complicating things to add drivers for your MPS program.

7. How am I going to implement this program?

There will be changes that you need to make internally as you wrap your arms around your offering. Internal resources will be re-allocated or in some cases have additional tasks added to their daily routine. Once you start to propose something that isn’t a SKU to your customer you’ll need to figure out how to change their way of interacting with you. An MPS deal changes the type and level of interaction and may also require some re-training of how the customer handles their printer needs. These changes will need to be implemented properly to successful both internally, and at your customer sites.

8. Can I do this alone, or do I need a partner?

Once you have wrapped your head around what you want to deliver, and what the demand is for an MPS program you may need to bring partnering companies in to help you support your program. Possible partnerships would fill in any gaps that you have, and provide you with the tools and methodologies that would strengthen your program.

I could keep going but these are the core questions that should be asked at the start of ANY new product offering that your company is going to engage in. If you are a business who is new to this ‘MPS thing’ don’t necessarily try to re-invent the wheel there is a wealth of knowledge and everyone, to a certain extent, is willing to share. Turn to your peers, read everything you can get your hands on and attend the MPS conferences. It amazes me that for such a competitive space everyone is willing to collaborate when it involves the MPS offering.

If you’ve been offering MPS for a while and struggling, go back and look at how you’ve executed it. Did you consider everything fully, or did you miss components, determine why you’re struggling and make changes. You could possibly even enlist the aid of one of the many business consulting firms that specialize in managed services.

If you’re in MPS and doing well and just like reading these blogs to keep up on what everyone else is doing there probably isn’t anything new in here. I don’t claim to be a guru or an expert; I haven’t earned a leopard bandana, yet. I’m just someone who’s been watching this MPS thing as it’s grown from the early adopter stage into where it is at now.

I am excited about the opportunities that MPS providers can bring to businesses and I think that over the next couple of years we will see that MPS, MDS, MES whatever pseudonym we give it will substantially change the way that users operate and interact with the printing environment.

Why I do declare… I think this MPS thing might even be bigger than colour print – and yes I’m Canadian…colour is spelt with a U.


Friday, October 7, 2011

On Improvisation

Here is an excerpt from my new book

Music, Mischief And Marketing: A Guerrillas Guide For The Creative Protagonist

(currently being written)

From chapter 8:
The Risks And Rewards Of Improvisation

The key to my own success has been rooted in improvisation. As a “jamband” when performing with Jabooda, it is customary to move through the composed portions of our songs and eventually trail off into a “jam” or improvisational section of the piece. At this point the song has endless possibilities.

We may choose to simply groove on the main theme and experiment with different melodies and rhythmic devices or we may move into a theme completely different from the current song, segueing into a different composition or letting the improvisation carry us into a climax or resolution of which is determined by multiple factors including but not limited to; the direction sometimes being steered by and individual or the collective conscious of the band as a whole.

Really anything is possible…

I try to approach many aspects of my life in this way and marketing and sales are probably the two most prevalent arts and sciences in which I do this (other than music).

I would say that improvisation (like avaunt-garde jazz or heavy metal) is not for everyone. There is a certain level of risk, rule bending (or breaking) necessary to be successful in improvisation. Taking said risks also will inevitably lead to some (if not multiple) failures.

So why take the risk?

Because improvisation is one of the best ways to “chase the magic”. Improvisation leads you into situations and territories that only improvisation can manifest. In my own improvisational work, I find that improvisation breeds synchronicity when practiced regularly. I find this to be true in art, music, business and literally all other facets of my life.

This is important because what this really translates to is the manifestations of opportunities.

By improvising within the traditional framework of the expectations associated with a common task or responsibility, in a way that achieves a goal by taking alternate or unexpected routes, one may find a level of success surpassing that of the statuesque approach.

One reason that innovation and success is not an omnipresent experience for all organizations and businesses is largely due in part to the fact that many organizations choose to stay grounded upon a single set of ideas or philosophies that while working to some extent, do not achieve the full potential possible within said organization. Reaching this potential would occur more often if those within said organization had more freedom to infuse more of their passions and perspectives into their work.

The improvisational approach as mentioned above is an excellent way to infuse more of yourself into all of your responsibilities, both within your job and virtually every other element of your life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Believe It Or Not, MPS Is Hip...

As I have watched the MPS industry over the past five years I have noticed a peculiar (and much to my enjoyment) interesting fact.

The MPS industry is ripe with subtle hipsters...

While I am not suggesting that you will find a group of us hanging out in an incense-smoke filled room, drinking absinthe and endlessly discussing the Grateful Dead as a metaphor for MPS, I would note the following...

1. The Death Of The Copier Blog, clearly the most well know and infamous blog in the industry is a veritable pantheon of liberal and even counter-culturally bent perspectives on what many would consider a drab, boring and very much so "un-sexy" corporate industry.

2. Just this week Adventures In Office Imaging fan and guest post author, Amanda Rogerson writes to me in an e-mail "As I see it, here are some of the basic questions to ask as you dive into the deep end of the MPS pool, or drink the Kool-Aid."

3. In a true showing of synchronicity, both myself and Rob Sethre unknowingly wrote articles expounding upon fractals as metaphorical devices to explain various dynamics of the managed print services ecosystem (within a few days of each other none the less).

4. The managed print services association actually has a Karma rating for its users and even Ken Stewart has commented on the actual presence of Karma within managed print services itself.

In the end all I can say is that the managed print services industry has some very creative and "colorful" minds within it's ranks and I am proud to consider myself one of the "in-crowd" in this respect.