HP’s ‘Managed Print’ Strategy: Threat or Opportunity?
IN-PLANTS HAVE watched it happen for years: Some of the same vendors that sell them equipment are also trying to shut them down by pitching facilities management services to their bosses. So when HP announced it was going to start providing "managed print services" and "offering outsourced alternatives," the natural reaction in the in-plant world was a head-shaking "here we go again."
Turns out, though, that there was something of a mixup in terminology. The "office printing" HP wants to help companies manage is not the printing going on in their in-plants but that being produced by their copiers and desktop printers—what HP's Francis McMahon, Marketing Director for the Graphic Solutions Business, calls "the cubicle environment."
"We're not looking at what's going on in the in-plant, nor do we have any expertise in managing in-plants, nor do we have any intention, through this current initiative, to do anything with the in-plant," says McMahon, putting to rest any lingering fears that HP wants to take over in-plants.
HP, McMahon says, wants to help organizations save money by printing their office documents more efficiently. It will assess the office devices currently in place, determine how many are really needed based on the number of people and the typical volume, and replace the fleet with HP multi-function devices.
Of course, we have seen this before—vendors offering free "consulting" services that result in (surprise!) a recommendation to replace office equipment. As you would all no doubt agree, the in-plant is in a better position to provide copier management services. Its assessment of the current copier environment will likely be more unbiased, as will its equipment recommendations. (And unlike HP, Xerox or others offering managed print services, the in-plant is not looking to make a profit, only to save the organization money.)
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.