The advent of mobility, cloud computing 1 business analytics and social business has led to the dawn of enterprise wanting flexibility and scalability, greater efficiency, reduced operating expenses2 and capital costs. Managed print services (MPS) show a ray of hope for printer OEMs. It holds the potential to take printers beyond their traditional role of managing print to integrating workflows with IT infrastructure allowing management of digitized information and business processes. However, this potential can be tapped only if MPS can adapt to next generation trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and on demand solutions, create meaningful dialogue between a heterogeneous printer fleet and off-premise/hosted software, and integrate multiple vertical solutions and workflows. Next Generation Open Multi-vendor MPS Solutions Platforms can make this magic happen.
Based on open-layered, modular and SKU-based architecture, the Next Generation MPS Platforms can enable mobile printing ecosystems, interface with competitive MFPs, run vertical workflow solutions on any MFP device using web services and address emerging technology needs like cloud enablement.
Open Multi-Vendor Solutions Platform: Need of the hour for print OEMs
Traditionally, most print OEMs, also offering MPS solutions, replaced existing fleet devices with their own devices to manage print. But, the dawn of the revitalized enterprise with the consumerization of IT, increasing prevalence of BYOD and virtualization of IT resources/assets has resulted in the enterprise demanding more for less (cost). The new age enterprise demands include enhanced document management, workflow, archiving, business process and control over unstructured and structured data entering the organization. How does an OEM satisfy these demands?
Let us understand this further through a use case. Jason, a sales manager in a MFP OEM, is expected to make applications work seamlessly in a mixed fleet and connect to the existing IT infrastructure. The traditional pressures of quick solution implementation and customization across verticals remain. Achieving such a seamless, plug and play MPS experience would need the solution to integrate with multiple MFP brands without dependencies on vendor specific extensibility platform, quick customization of applications and cloud/mobile enablement. An Open Multi-Vendor MPS Platform can achieve the same. The solution would include a vendor specific UI and database mapping, separate business logic in applications, pre-built vendor specific extensibility adapters, pre-built common functionalities, and browser based UI.
Open Multi-Vendor MPS Platform
An open multi-vendor solution platform must be designed using a layered architecture approach. The approach will decouple each aspect of the platform for easy extensibility and allow integration of newer OEMs and devices onto the platform. A streamlined communication process between the layers using clearly defined interfaces and the modules using exposed web services, helps build a seamless, plug and play MPS experience.
Plug-based adapters allow the extensibility of the platform while retaining existing devices in the fleet. This can impact customer bottom-line positively. For instance, for a leading OEM, such a platform could result in a saving of USD 10-15 million annually. Features like secure printing, duplex enforcement and print polices alone can bring down OPEX by 20-30%.
Further, an open and multi-vendor MPS platform must be able to scale easily and go beyond the traditional usage of printing. For instance, it should allow inclusion of horizontal functionalities like metering, monetization, policies, and archival. This would help a retail client create a robust customer ID, presence and loyalty solution from the platform or allow a publishing client build a seamless content processing, distribution and communication hub.
However, defining such a layered open multivendor MPS architecture and stitching together the layers/components to form a scalable and holistic solution is no easy task. A Multi-Vendor solution (figure 1.0) can be one approach to create these next generation MPS platforms.