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A new set of Xerox managed print services (MPS) launched today aims to expand the company's reach in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market, where the company believes channel partners will help expand its presence.
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The MPS expansion includes assessment tools, just-in-time ink and toner replenishment, an application programming interface that imports client MPS data into partner applications, and workflow technology that Xerox says will accelerate customer business processes and reduce print demand.
The services are part of a broader Xerox push to drive more of its document technology business through indirect channels. John Corley, president of Channel Partner Operations for Xerox, said he anticipates that the channel will account for close to two-thirds of the company's technology revenue by late 2016 or early 2017; currently, about half of the company's technology business is indirect.
A key element of Xerox growth strategy is building a greater presence in the SMB market, which the company views as a major source of growth for MPS offerings. According to Xerox, 8 million SMB accounts in the U.S. and Western Europe --companies in the five- to 1,000- employee range -- drive $40 billion in document technology product and service spending.
"Our mission is to grow our share in our targeted markets -- specifically, the SMB marketplace," Corley said. "We are going to do that … by having a productive portfolio of partners."
John Corleypresident, Channel Partner Operations, Xerox
Louella Fernandes, associate director for print services and solutions at Quocirca, a market research and analysis company based in the United Kingdom, also noted the importance of the SMB market and the channel's role in that sector.
"The SMB market is still an untapped opportunity for many OEMs with respect to MPS," she said. "Obviously, the channel is critical to success, but it has taken some time for the channel to evolve and have the resources or skills to offer MPS."
She said Xerox is one of the vendors that offer a low-cost, flexible model that helps partners establish themselves in MPS, enabling partners to come on board with a cloud-hosted platform.
Xerox managed print services: New offerings
Xerox latest partner initiative, which company executives refer to as "the next generation" of MPS, focuses on four new tools within its Xerox Partner Print Services line.
- Assessment tools: Xerox now offers a "more highly featured pro version" of its NewField IT print assessment tools to partners enrolled in the company's Xerox Partner Print Services program, said Elizabeth Fox, vice president of managed print services for SMB at Xerox. That product will be offered to partners at a significant discount versus the open-market version of the NewField IT tools, she added. In addition, Xerox unveiled a NewField IT e-Commerce Storefront that lets partners order and renew assessment tools and services.
- Automatic replenishment service: Xerox's Enhanced Managed Supplies Service lets partners offer automatic replenishment for unmanaged printers and multifunction printers. Fox said it wouldn't be worthwhile for partners to manually fulfill cartridge orders, one by one, for such devices. But partners using this Xerox service can see which customer printers need supplies and place an order for cartridges, which are fulfilled via distributors.
- MPS API: This software development kit (SDK) improves the integration of Xerox managed print services tools with partner systems, while enabling partners to better integrate with client systems, according to Fox. For example, the API lets partners extract data from Xerox tools and plug them into help desk, service management or billing applications, she noted.
- Workflow technology: Xerox Digital Alternatives, which the company describes as desktop and mobile assistant technology, automates paper-driven workflows. Specifically, the offering targets five use cases that may cause organizations to print documents: signing, annotation, sharing, storing and reading. Fox said the workflow tool positions partners as business process consultants who can help customers convert common paper-based processes into digital transactions. Xerox Digital Alternatives integrate with Microsoft's Active Directory for authentication and Exchange for collaboration.
The NewField IT e-Commerce Storefront, the pro version of the NewField IT tools, the MSP API and the Enhanced Managed Supplies Service are now available for U.S. and European partners. The Enhanced Managed Supplies Service will be available in Canada later this year. Xerox Digital Alternatives is currently rolling out in Europe and will be available in the U.S. later this year.
Managed print service challenge: Differentiation
Fernandes said differentiation is a key challenge in MPS, but noted that business process-oriented offerings provide a boost in that regard.
"The market is mature and there is little to differentiate around the core MPS services, so Xerox is focusing on business process services and workflow automation solutions to enhance its offerings," she said.
Fernandes said the breadth and scale of the Xerox managed print services portfolio and the maturity of its MPS offerings provide the company's key differentiators.
Xerox's differentiation, meanwhile, extends to its partners. Jim Hillmann, print practice director at Pomeroy, an IT infrastructure services provider based in Hebron, Ky., said the Enhanced Managed Supplies Service, the SDK and Xerox Digital Alternatives "are all differentiators that we can get and take to our existing customers and bring more value to those existing relationships."
Mike Feldman, president of Global Document Outsourcing and Large Enterprise Operations at Xerox, said the company's channel partners have a great market opportunity in MPS. He noted that 72 percent of SMB's lack an MPS program, citing Photizo Group figures. He also noted the SMB MPS market, by 2018, is projected to grow at four times the pace of the enterprise sector.
"It's really important for Xerox to work … closely with our channel partners to bring to the customers in this segment a full next-generation of managed print services."
Read about a CompTIA study on managed print services partners.