Note: This article was filed by a paid contributor to Xerox Corporation.

As they strive to succeed and thrive while competing with larger corporations, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are constantly exploring opportunities to increase efficiency, cut costs and improve bottom-line performance. One way to do this is through a managed print services (MPS) solution, which can both reduce costs and improve efficiency. Not all SMBs have the in-house resources needed to implement such a program, however, so it isn’t surprising that SMBs are looking for a single-source MPS provider to partner with.

Cloud-based MPS delivery offers a number of selling points for the customer; it has most of the benefits of an on-premise solution without the management chores and added costs. Cloud MPS deployments are leaner than their on-premise counterparts and allow SMBs to be more flexible with their decision making and operations. Channel partners offering these services can boost both customer loyalty and margins as they become a more strategic value-added partner for their customers. Understanding SMB challenges, motivators and successful MPS program elements is the key to selling in this market.

1. Cloud MPS Saves Money

At its most basic level, a managed print program is a money saver, reducing operating costs by up to 30 percent. And saving money is important to the SMB — in a recent survey by Xerox and Coleman Parkes Research, 42 percent of SMB respondents said reduced printing costs were a top priority. Since many SMBs do not even have IT departments, printers may have fallen under several different department (or individual) budgets, leaving the full cost of printing unmanaged and untracked. A good hosted MPS solution can find and cull these devices, implement procedures for managing and controlling print, and create a streamlined, efficient print and document management environment that can save the SMB thousands of dollars a year.

 2. Cloud MPS Goes Hand-in-Hand With IT

Cloud has reshaped many aspects of IT in recent years, with the ability to deliver software and services in a virtual, hosted manner that offsets costs associated with hosting and managing on-premise equipment. Cisco’s Borderless Network by its own definition allows “anyone, anywhere, anytime, and on any device” to connect to an organization’s network. Through Cisco’s partnership with Xerox, channel partners can consolidate MPS and IT solutions, bringing Xerox managed print and cloud IT outsourcing services to customers over Cisco’s intelligent network infrastructure —  an attractive proposition to small and mid-size businesses that need to outsource both. A partner offering a cloud-based MPS solution on this network architecture allows SMBs access to the maximum benefits of enterprise-level solutions.

3. Cloud MPS Saves Help Desk Calls and Costs

Although SMBs are much less likely than large enterprises to have an IT department, they are just as likely to have IT issues. An estimated 40 to 60 percent of help desk calls are print-related, with the average help desk call costing $14.90 — as much as $50,000 a year.1

Cloud MPS can alleviate this problem in a couple of ways. A good MPS program will eliminate many of the older, more troublesome printers in an office to begin with. Cloud MPS providers can also deliver a help desk solution that most SMBs couldn’t manage on their own. Allowing SMB staff to focus on other pressing matters will make for a happy customer indeed.

4. Cloud MPS Can Make Mobile Workers More Productive

IDC predicts that by 2020, mobile workers will account for 72 percent of the workforce,2 and those workers will need access to their company’s network and printers. The simplified nature of cloud MPS is a natural fit for mobile workers, making mobile print accessible and improving worker productivity by allowing anytime, anywhere access to output devices. Increased productivity is important to SMBs; in the Coleman Parkes Xerox survey, 47 percent selected “increased productivity through improved workflow/business processes” as a top priority. Improved workflows go hand-in-hand with mobile print, as the networked, smart multifunction printer (MFP) is key to both. Acting as both an input and output device, the smart MFP can be a point of scan and capture as well as a print device, allowing employees to input and output from an MFP in any location on their company’s network.

5. Cloud MPS Goes Beyond MPS

Document and Endpoint Security ebook

The aforementioned scan and capture functions are part of another critically important function in today’s office: the reduction of paper. This may seem like it runs counter to the goals of a reseller providing an MPS solution, but today’s intelligent managed print services include document management and workflow solutions. It is a slow process for many; the Coleman Parkes survey showed 37 percent of SMBs have just started to digitize paper processes. One in five would like to implement a plan for digital processes but were unaware of paper-free options and solutions — a situation that cries out for a good partner.

6. Cloud MPS Is (and Must Be) Secure

If all of this talk of networks, digitization and mobility makes the hair on your neck stand up, congratulations — you’re security conscious. So is Xerox. The need for security cannot be overstated, and there are a number of ways to ensure this. Solutions integrated with MFPs can provide an extra layer of security to protect access to content. Secure printing technologies such as pull printing work by holding print jobs in a secure, cloud-based repository until they are released at the network device by a user who enters a username/password, swipes an ID card or enters a PIN number. This is a key feature to help eliminate orphaned print jobs — documents that are left in the printer output tray and never retrieved. Pull printing solutions are also important for enabling secure mobile print capabilities.

Just as critical is protecting the network and devices; Cisco TrustSec integration provides visibility of all Xerox ConnectKey enabled MFPs to enforce security policies and compliance. A channel partner offering a secure and compliant managed network can easily add print devices and treat them with the same level of security as any other networked device.

Cloud-based MPS delivery is a win-win situation for both channel partners and SMBs. For channel partners, it is an opportunity to become a trusted ally with a host of high-level offerings available to implement in any environment. For SMBs, it is a way to compete in a high-tech market against much larger enterprises with more money and resources. For both, it is the perfect marriage of print and IT solutions offered up in a neat and secure package.

1 2014 HDI Support Center Practices & Salary Report

2 IDC Forecasts U.S. Mobile Worker Population to Surpass 105 Million by 2020

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