Transform 2013: The long journey

Despite lower numbers, Transform 2013 proved to be another informative and educational few days of learning all about MPS, its opportunities and challenges.


One could be forgiven for thinking that after several years of hype, Managed Print Services (MPS) fatigue is beginning to set in. And it’s true, attendance levels at Photizo Group’s recent Transform 2013 event were well down this year, with a total of 182 visitors, compared with last year’s record-breaking 344 (partially due to one sponsor – Ricoh – last year bringing a large delegation of customers). 

But there’s no doubt that the congregation of delegates from Europe’s imaging and print industry had much to learn in a wide selection of absorbing keynote speeches, panel discussions and breakout sessions, not to mention in the pre-conference workshop that delved a little deeper into MPS tactics.

The event was kicked off by Jim Lawless, a well-known motivational speaker who has taken several leaves out of his own book The Ten Rules for Taming Tigers. He showed a hugely appreciative audience just what can be achieved if you truly put your mind (and body in his case!) to it. 

But while every single delegate appeared to stand a little taller after Lawless’ positive assault on everybody’s confidence and self belief, the subsequent panel discussion on MPS: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly showed that much remains to be done to bring all stakeholders in the overall MPS debate successfully and coherently under one umbrella. From issues with contract lengths, unrealistic savings promises to lacklustre customer buy-in, there are many challenges that still need to be addressed. 

And how can you make money in the (ever more threatening) paperless office, asked José Luis Parga, Founder/CEO of Pulsar Technologies. His answer is simple in theory, if not necessarily in practice – document storage. 

“Documents – in whatever format and medium they are stored – do have a cost and we have to recoup that cost,” he said.

Parga made the very interesting leap from MPS to Managed Document Services (MDS), which are predominantly the domain of large corporate organisations, in a well-attended session that finished with a lively debate.  

Further discussions of the day included the European MPS market and its opportunities, a look at cloud computing and printing, as well as a useful insight into delivering services to SME customers from a leasing perspective.

The first day finished with Photizo’s Solutions Showcase that allowed delegates to listen to some very specific solutions or alternatively visit one of the many exhibiting booths and tables displaying their wares at the conference.

On the second full day, Photizo’s Founder/CEO Ed Crowley took to the stage with his keynote address. He spoke about services and the part they increasingly play in the MPS arena. Can they become commoditised too? What does the future hold for all involved?

In among a hugely informative ‘Ask the Experts’ panel discussion and a host of more breakout sessions in the afternoon, visitors had plenty of time to network again, learn and be educated, not least during a very enjoyable Bourbon tasting that topped off the event with a glow.   

The transformation is far from complete; some might say has barely started yet, but it’s fair to say delegates at the very least came away with some ideas taking shape in the back of their minds.  

MPS in a declining market – the coach’s view

The OP space is rife with change right now. We all know that traditional office product sales are in decline and much of what we see right now makes for less than uplifting reading.  

Some of the giants like Staples are having to redefine their business models at break-neck speeds. And we know they are not alone. The ‘tablification’ of the office and the trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are other flashpoint conditions that will continue to change how people share documents within the office.  

Tablets and smartphones have become attractive and economical transport mechanisms for documents and the visual quality and ease of use are such that people don’t feel the need to buy as many notepads and pens as they used to.  

And this trend isn’t a fad; it’s the new reality. People aren’t taking a temporary break from the traditional office, they are transforming the very nature of what an office is. With pressure from Generation Y, corporate cost-cutting, remote workforces, the complete digitisation of traditionally paper-based workflows, as well as the wide adoption of cloud-based solutions, there is no doubt that revenue diversification is essential if we are to prosper.

So how do we evolve to recapture those lost revenues? One simple way is to add MPS to your portfolio. This offering is, after all, directly related to some of the product sets being sold in the OP space – think printers, toner, paper. The key difference with managed print versus selling the items upon request is that you get a long-term contract and better margins for your efforts.  

Maybe you’ve entertained developing an MPS programme only to be put off by all the moving parts: auto-toner fulfilment, collecting page counts for billing, hiring/dispatching service technicians, sales rep training. 

Just five years ago you would have had to develop most of these MPS elements in-house, but that’s no longer the case. Many distributors and other reseller partners have MPS programmes that make it easy for OP companies to offer MPS without having to build the infrastructure (author’s note: not to mention the cornucopia of software providers vying to enter into collaborative agreements). You would buy the ‘pages’ at a wholesale cost, and your customers get the toner, service and parts required. Simple. 

And of course organisations like FocusMPS are ready and willing to help you to train your salesforce on the art and science of MPS selling. So all in all you no longer have to worry about building out an MPS programme all by yourself, and this is good news if you’re considering adding value-based and margin-rich offerings to your bag of tricks. If you aren’t offering MPS you are in jeopardy of losing business to those that are. And once a contract is signed, you won’t have a chance to earn that business back for at least 12 months, likely longer.

So evolving the toner and printer portion of your office supplies revenue streams into an MPS model is no longer a difficult prospect.  And with workflow and BPO solutions becoming more economical and simple to deliver the opportunity is massive. The only question left to ask is ‘when do you get started’? 

West McDonald is Founder/Owner of focusMPS. He has been involved in the MPS space for over a decade and set up his own company about two years ago. To get in touch, contact West on +1 905 835 2520. Email:; or

Beyond basic MPS

In a pre-conference workshop organised as part of this year’s Transform event, West McDonald explored some of the other lucrative and recurring MPS revenue streams that exist within the managed services and IT services sectors. Nearly 30 dealers, mostly from a copier and printing background and not new to the concept of MPS, attended an engaging afternoon geared towards teaching them how to sell and integrate horizontal workflow solutions into their MPS practice. 

One of these is ‘Secure Release/Follow-me’ printing. The benefits here, says McDonald, are manyfold and successful implementation can deliver cost savings and document security benefits that are “impossible to ignore”. He adds: “Customers are driving the need for this change and this workshop was a good primer. By the end dealers were able to confidently work with their customers to deliver far more than ‘MPS 101’