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Is the Channel in Europe Taking MPS Seriously Enough? 1/4

By Steven Swift

Some resellers in Europe have wholeheartedly embraced the shift to a service-based business model, and are doing well with it. Leading edge providers in several countries have formed an international alliance, IMPSGA, to develop and promote best practice – more information at However, they are still the minority, and in some countries it is difficult to find almost any serious MPS providers in the channel.

Resellers who do not adapt their business model will lose out to those who do

Does this mean that MPS is not right for Europe, or that the market is not yet ready for it, or is it that dealers are just being slow to shift to a new business model? As always, there is no one simple answer, but the big picture is that changes in technology, customer requirements and user behaviour are inexorably driving printing and imaging towards a service-based model. Resellers who do not adapt their business model will lose out to those who do, and to new forms of competition. They will eventually go out of business – and maybe more quickly than many of them imagine.


Firstly, let us consider what are the drivers for the move to a service based model.

MPS started with the convergence of printer and copier technology, and the associated change in the way documents were distributed, with the advent of networks and email. Those of us who can cast our minds back far enough will remember the days when documents were printed (or even typed!), as an “original”, then copied multiple times on a photocopier, and physically distributed to recipients. Today, of course, documents are distributed electronically, either as email attachments, or increasingly via an ever-widening range of document sharing systems, many of which are cloud based. They may never be printed at all, and if they are, it will be on the local device of each recipient.

And yet the office infrastructure and culture have been relatively slow to keep up with the changes in work patterns.  In many organisations, there is still a distinction between “printers”, which are seen as network peripherals, managed by IT, and “photocopiers”, which are seen as large free-standing devices, managed by Facilities. The difference in how they are perceived, used, purchased and managed persists, even though both sets of devices share much of the same functionality, except that single function printers cannot scan or copy.

Indeed, the vast majority of document output on most “photocopiers”, which of course are all MFDs, is now print, rather than copying. The main justification for the built-in scanner is as the on-ramp for digitizing paper documents, thus allowing them to be stored, manipulated and managed in Electronic Content Management (ECM) systems. Simple “photocopying’ is now quite rare. After all, the only documents which users need to photocopy these days are those which they have received as hard copies (what proportion of anyone’s mail do those represent?), printed media such as press articles, brochures etc., or documents retrieved from a physical archiving system.

Over the last few years the perceived distinction between printers and MFDs has finally started to break down, starting with larger, mainly corporate organisations, but now spreading into SMEs and the public sector.  The drivers are the increasing awareness that the old way of working leads to duplication of resources and assets, complexity, and device under-utilisation, and that very significant savings and productivity gains may be had from rationalizing all output devices into one managed fleet.


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This article was written on 12 Sep 2013, and is filled under Business Forecast, Managed Print Systems.


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