This Week in Imaging: Perfect Timing for ‘Print-as-a-Service?’
A recent Lexmark blog – As-a-Service Solutions Offer CIOs Financial Flexibility in Uncertain Times – discussed how enterprises can benefit from print-as-a-service. The blog notes that, with the possibility of an economic downturn upon us, many enterprises are increasingly opting for the financial flexibility of subscription-based models – versus large upfront capital outlays – for their tech needs.
With print-as-a-service (PaaS), one of the key benefits is that there’s a no upfront investment. Instead, the customer is billed (usually monthly) for hardware (printers and copiers), their supplies and service. Unlike with MPS, the cost of the hardware is built into the cost-per-page or subscription agreement, and the hardware remains the property of the provider. That means there are no complicated hardware lease agreements or need for request for bids. And, typically, the customer can cancel at any time.
Lexmark’s recently introduced Cloud Print Infrastructure as a Service also takes PaaS a step further. Customers don’t have to purchase or install hardware or manage printer/copier supplies and service. Plus, they also don’t have to manage the print infrastructure. Instead, print servers, queue management, user management, and data collection are moved to the cloud and secure cloud print release is enabled. (For traditionalists, there’s still an option to purchase hardware.)
The end result is the next step in the evolution of office printing: lifting the burden of all aspects of the printer/copier – not just supplies and service – off the shoulders of IT.
Last November, Epson also introduced a PaaS program, called Cornerstone, which is available in the United States via Synnex for IT value-added resellers selling to small and mid-size businesses.
Via the cloud-based Cornerstone web portal, IT VARs can generate a three-year print agreements for the latest business-class Epson WorkForce Pro inkjet printers, including a limited full-term warranty and automatic supply delivery. The customer pays one monthly invoice for the devices, supplies, and service.
At the time of Cornerstone’s introduction, Larry Trevarthen, director of business imaging at Epson America, explained: “With the market trends shifting from selling devices to selling services, resellers are looking for tools that ensure they retain the long-term relationship with their end-users while also receiving the full value of that relationship, especially IT VARs that are currently selling on a transactional basis and may not have the ability to maintain ongoing service and support.”
The Cornerstone program includes: solutions for creating quotes for one device up to a fleet of devices; contracting with the end user electronically; monitoring the device for service and ink needs; resolving all installation, service, and ink supply needs; and billing and reporting on a monthly basis.
One office-imaging dealer that offers PaaS is the Verity Group, an HP authorized dealer. Under the program, all equipment remains the property of the Verity Group. The company says the program features various advantages for customers, including: one monthly invoice; customers may cancel at any time; and no cancellation fees.
Under the company’s PaaS program, Verity:
- Delivers the equipment and initial supplies, trains end-users and key administrative staff, assists the IT staff with network setup, and then keeps the device up and running.
- Installs a “Data Collection Agent” (DCA) to: track and collect page-count information, supplies level/utilization, and for proactive repairs.
While we don’t think PaaS will ever replace MPS, it does offer significant advantages, foremost among them increased financial flexibility that many customers are likely to find very appealing.
This Week in Imaging