We live in the era of information. From kids to aged people, from SOHO to corporations, everyone is saving data in an electronic format under the belief that it is critical for him/her, and that he/she will need to use it somewhere in the future. MPS is not an exception. Indeed the business is based on our capacity to identify needs from the data collected from the printer and copiers. But using the data is different to having access to the information. Can we do well with just the prebuilt interfaces delivered by the system vendor? How would we then differentiate in the market?
Data vs. Information:
The first aspect we should clearly understand is that data is useful only to build information, and it is “information” what we really want. In real life the information is what we need in order to solve problems, or to take the appropriate decisions. Therefore the information should be useful.
Usefulness of something depends on the individual and the moment. A dealer supplying cartridges finds the toner alerts very useful, as long as they are generated time in advance to ship the cartridge. Instead, a service company with a maintenance contract does not care about toner alerts, but about technical alerts. Each individual around MPS should be receiving the information relevant to him/her at the right moment of time. If this is so then the individual is receiving information. If not he/she is receiving data, meaning something irrelevant that distracts him/her from performing better.
The group of users and their interest:
There are many different groups around MPS, each one with a different need (see article “What makes a managed print solution the best? (part 5)” at www.nubeprint.com for more details):
The MPS service provider: this group includes the system user, order processing, billing, the service department (if not subcontracted), the account manager, business management. Each one has different specific needs.
The end-customer: the group includes the printer user, the service contact person and the management. Again each individual has different specific needs.
Partners in the business: the distributor, the company doing refurbishing, renting. And once again each one has a different need.
Therefore the first conclusion is that a unique template can’t satisfy the needs of all individuals and all groups.
Hélas, the management of information in MPS is even more complex than this. If we have got a system that provides to each individual of each group its specific information, and we develop our business as MPS service provider just with this, then we will soon find out that we do not differentiate in the market, that we are delivering exactly the same way than our competitors. And soon we will end-up by making the difference by reducing the price.
The needs change:
The needs of the players change over time. And the experience the MPS service provider gains is to be used to differentiate over time, to maintain competitiveness without eroding margins. Its way of delivering the service should change based on its experience. As a consequence the second conclusion is that the information the MPS service provider uses and delivers should evolve over time.
Every single day the MPS system is feeding each printer’s file with no less than 100 data units. Only around 20 are useful data collected from the printer, the rest being information generated by a professional MPS system itself. This means 3,000 in one month. 36,000 each year. If you manage 1,000 printers or copiers then you do have 36 million units of data or information in just one year. The MPS technology vendor is responsible to provide accurate and the most complete set of information to facilitate the MPS service provider delivering. The vendor should even provide the most common market practice. But remember: the most common practice in the market will not make the MPS service provider different, and if it wants to beat its competitors, it has to be different and better. Finding different ways of using the valuable information that the MPS system vendor puts on its hands will certainly be of great help to differentiate from competitors.
Keep in mind:
From all this we deduct three things that an MPS service provider should keep in mind:
1st: MPS requires a professional system capable to build valuable and accurate information out of a few pieces of data;
2nd: the information system should deliver information specific to each user;
3rd: no matter what information the system delivers now, it will not be valid as you evolve and gain experience. Therefore the information is something that should be managed by the MPS service provider so that it adapts to its specific needs over time;
4th: from point 3 above we easily deduct that the MPS service provider must have the access to the information. Relying just on pre-built access to the existing information will medium and long term slow down its growth. Unlimited access to all information is a must to remain competitive.