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Organizations are scrutinizing virtually every area of business operations in an effort to reduce costs, increase operational efficiencies and drive worker productivity. In recent years, businesses have honed in on the document infrastructure as an area ripe for the picking. Printing, in particular, has moved to the forefront for many organizations as one of the first places to look when identifying opportunities for optimization.

The reason is simple. While printing has always been viewed as an important and necessary business function, it has gone largely unmonitored and unmeasured. Intense focus on the costs of printing has fueled rapid adoption of managed print and document services (MPDS) in the large enterprise sector. IDC research finds that in the United States, penetration of MPDS has reached as high as 60% in large enterprises in document-intensive environments.

Mobile, cloud, data analytics and social business are key enablers driving digital transformation and impacting how businesses work with information.

However, the landscape for outsourced print and document services is changing. As the market has matured, organizations are seeking greater value from their MPDS engagements in an effort to expand beyond basic print services (BPS). The shift to "3rd Platform" technologies is causing significant disruption and innovation in the business sector. Mobile, cloud, data analytics and social business are key enablers driving digital transformation and impacting how businesses work with information. These same technologies are also fueling transformation of document workflows. Enterprise customers are turning to MPDS providers to address these issues by extending into high-value document solutions and services.

Research from IDC’s "Worldwide and U.S. Managed Print and Document Services and Basic Print Services Forecast" projects BPS/MPDS to grow at a CAGR of 9.5% over the next five years. While the overall market for outsourced print and document services is growing, IDC projects that the worldwide market for MPDS will grow faster than BPS, which is indicative of a maturing market as organizations seek greater savings and efficiencies through an advanced document services model.

When it comes to controlling and managing print, the enterprise is looking to accomplish specific objectives with MPDS: consolidate output devices, eliminate or significantly reduce printing, control and restrict color usage and reduce paper consumption. These are considered prime targets when it comes to print optimization, but organizations are learning that greater efficiencies can be realized through a broader document and content strategy that is more closely aligned with corporate governance, information management, content security and sustainability goals.

This is occurring both with new MPDS initiatives as well as for those programs that are well underway. The digital workplace is causing many organizations to completely rethink existing document strategies, leading many that have not yet made the leap to managed print or document services to more closely evaluate these offerings. Meanwhile, as the MPDS market matures and existing contracts undergo multiple renewal phases, businesses are looking to drive additional process transformation through new service-level agreements (SLAs) addressing issues such as mobile and cloud integration, process optimization and workflow automation.

Interestingly, while MPDS has achieved significant penetration among large enterprises, most organizations are not leveraging these programs to drive transformative business processes. IDC research shows only a small number of enterprises have reached an optimized level with their print and document management programs. At the advanced level, MPDS could be leveraged to reengineer line of business (LOB) and/or vertical document-intensive workflows, including both paper and electronic documents. Organizations seeking help in these areas are beginning to realize that their MPDS provider, which was instrumental in optimizing a fleet of imaging devices, likely also has the document domain expertise to enable business process improvements.

Managed and implemented properly, MPDS streamlines the overall document strategy—not only driving printing costs down but also creating a more effective and efficient business environment. Enterprises should look to partner with MPDS providers to develop a program based on a cohesive document strategy that is driven by organizational goals and business objectives. This approach extends the value of an MPDS strategy beyond print rationalization to achieve dramatic improvements in key areas of the organization’s business operations.

For more information on how organizations can move to higher levels of maturity in their document transformation strategies, don't miss IDC's session, "Digital Transformation of Document Workflows LIVE Benchmarking," on May 11, 2016 at the DOCUMENT Strategy Forum in Chicago.

Robert Palmer is research director with IDC's Imaging, Printing and Document Solutions team, covering managed print services, document solutions, business workflow automation and optimization and hard copy transformation. Follow him on Twitter @palmerrg.