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Remote Monitoring Boosting profitability & competitive advantage by: Brent Hoskins, Office Technology Magazine


he office technology industry’s level of competitiveness seems to progress at the same pace as societal changes, end-user demands and technological advancements. Unfortunately, this reality provides plenty of opportunities to lag behind. Are you staying ahead of the competition? Today, many would contend that staying ahead of the competition is largely associated with earning customer loyalty, improving workflow efficiencies and helping everyone involved save money. In recent years, for a growing number of dealers, accomplishing these tasks has depended, in part, on the utilization of solutions that provide for the remote monitoring of MFPs and printers, by accessing the standard MIB and private MIB of each device. You already know the leading players in this solution category, working closely with BTA Channel dealers — FMAudit, MWA Intelligence, Print Audit and PrintFleet. You also know that these companies provide far more than automated meter billing. In addition, to cite a few examples, they provide assessment tools, supplies management, service alert monitoring and a host of report-generation capabilities. David Morrow, chief commercial officer for PrintFleet, offers an overview of his company that illustrates the scope and value offered by this segment of the industry’s solution providers. “PrintFleet offers a time-tested and proven platform that enables data-driven solutions that increase competitiveness, improve service delivery levels and, most importantly, improve profitability,” he says. “We support assessment and contract management, analytics and other solutions for OEMs, distributors and dealers worldwide.” Many dealers would likely assert that the use of the tools offered by PrintFleet and the other companies cited (as well as similar tools offered by MFP manufacturers) is so commonplace that they have become a staple for today’s office technology dealerships. “If you are not using some type of monitoring tool, you are at risk of being out of the game, so to speak,” says Rob Thiessen, vice president of sales at Print

Audit, supporting the assertion. “Monitoring and proactive management of supplies and service on devices is ‘table stakes’ nowadays.” Despite the near-commodity status of remote monitoring tools, there are at least two notable observations worthy of attention. First, a closer look at the solution category reveals a common viewpoint among providers: There is a big difference between using such tools and using them to their full potential. Second, there are, in fact, dealerships that have yet to embrace such solutions, even at the foundational level. That is, they have not automated their meter collection and billing processes. “There are a number of small dealerships, even some midsized dealerships, that have not implemented automated data collection,” observes Kevin Tetu, president of FMAudit. “They are still sending requests via email, fax or phone, or even having their service technicians collect meter reads when they are onsite at customer locations.” Morrow shares the same observation. “Yes, it is difficult to imagine,” he says, referencing non-automated meter collection and billing. “There are still some dealerships doing it that way. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how many dealerships exactly, because it almost seems implausible to think about these days.” If your dealership is among those that have not yet automated the meter collection and billing process, consider the key benefit that Tetu cites. “Through our surveys and dealer feedback, we have learned that the dealership that automates its fleet of devices just for meter purposes could experience a cost reduction of up to 85 percent in the billing process,” he says. “So, there is a huge profit margin just by automating the process. That dealership would also increase efficiencies and customer satisfaction.” Of course, as suggested, many, if not most, office technology dealerships are remotely monitoring the MFPs and printers within their customer locations, collecting meter reads and other information. A recent milestone at FMAudit serves

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June 2014 Office Technology  

This is the June 2014 issue of Office Technology, the monthly magazine of the Business Technology Association