For well over a decade, organizations have been looking to print and document management initiatives as a way to reduce costs, increase employee productivity and better meet regulatory/compliance and environmental/sustainability goals. These organizations frequently partner with a managed print and document services provider. Outsourcing the print and document management function provides access to current and ongoing technology and print and document domain expertise that may not be resident within an organization. In addition, outsourcing reduces the administrative costs associated with managing a program internally, including management of multiple vendors, contracts and leases.
MORE: Top Business Processes for Document Automation & Optimization
As the managed print and document services (MPDS) market matures, providers are facing increasing commoditization and margin pressures. These providers are seeking ways to deepen relationships, grow customer share, increase switching costs and develop new annuity streams. At the same time, as contracts undergo multiple renewal cycles, buyers are looking for sustained value and additional benefits. In addition, cloud-based applications and mobile devices as well as the increasing socialization of business applications and other forces are creating both opportunities and new pain points related to document and information management.
In response, a number of MPDS providers have been developing and/or acquiring vertical and/or line-of-business expertise and solutions as they strive to maximize value for customers. They are also developing, acquiring or partnering to offer technologies that transform, automate and/or optimize document-intensive processes. This includes, but is not limited to, paper-to-digital conversion of documents. Combined with existing document technologies, processes and knowledge, this expertise is empowering a new level of services and solutions that can drive new business models, business transformation and better business outcomes in buyer organizations.
"We saw higher incidence [of pain levels associated with document processes] among these companies [with MPDS engagements], particularly in areas related to document workflows within cloud environments, printing and scanning with mobile devices (i.e., smartphones and tablets), document security and sharing and collaboration with colleagues, customers and partners."
In late 2013, IDC conducted a survey focusing on US organizations’ efforts to automate and optimize document-intensive business processes. We analyzed responses from individuals that are involved in the company's decision to implement technology and/or services that enabled document workflow automation and optimization. We examined how the incidence of high pain levels associated with document processes varies among organizations with and without MPDS engagements. What we found was surprising (and suggests opportunities for MPDS providers to address particular pain points.) We expected the percent of companies with high pain levels to be lower for companies' MPDS, but in fact, we saw higher incidence among these companies, particularly in areas related to document workflows within cloud environments, printing and scanning with mobile devices (i.e., smartphones and tablets), document security and sharing and collaboration with colleagues, customers and partners.
This suggests that companies with high pain associated with document processes tend to buy MPDS. However, the survey also indicated that respondents that have an MPDS contract are far more likely to be planning to automate and/or optimize business processes than those that do not.
Here are some specific areas that can be addressed by MPDS buyers and their providers to mitigate some of the aforementioned pain points:
Cloud: Address both cloud-based applications and cloud file services for printing and scanning.
Sharing/collaborating on documents with colleagues, customers, partners:
Reduce the time to re-format documents sourced in other formats
Address collaborative system limitations (e.g., firewall)
Address sharing/collaborating within a cloud environment
- Improve exception handling
- Enable printing/scanning from smartphones and tablets
Improve integration of paper with electronic workflows
Address the usability/interface of software in end-to-end workflows
Follow Holly Muscolino on Twitter @hmuscolino.