HP reacts to hybrid shift with Managed Print Flex

UK partners are part of pilot of cloud-based subscription printing model being offered to customers

Print manufacturers have started to react to the shift to hybrid working, arming channel partners with more flexibility to give them options to cover customers’ workers who are based at home.

Last month saw Brother launch a range of A4 business inkjet printers designed to be used in a small office or home environment. As well as product, there is also a need for cloud-based subscription options and HP has approached the challenge from that angle.

The vendor is launching Managed Print Flex, a managed print service subscription offering that is designed to give the channel something to pitch to users who are seeking greater flexibility.

“The ability to work everywhere is now a necessity, not a luxury,” said Paul Birkett, global head of commercial services and solutions at HP. “To keep businesses running, businesses have to support their distributed employees.”

Birkett added that work might “never return to the way we used to see it – but that doesn’t change the need to collaborate with people” and customers had to adapt to hybrid with the right tools.

He said the shift in working practices had created changes to working, networks and had increased some vulnerabilities, as well as changing the challenge of managing and supporting employees – and all those changes required a response.

“Our customers and their workers need the right technology to be productive wherever they work,” he added. “HP Managed Print Flex helps businesses to optimise their costs by simplifying the management of contracts, improving productivity of the print itself and delivering flexibility to scale, or change the contract as the business needs it to happen. By shifting everything to the cloud, customers and partners can select the print that best suits their needs.”

The subscription service is based on a one-year contract with auto renewals that includes a great deal of flexibility to scale up or down during the contract.

“We are currently piloting with select resellers and customers in the US, the UK and Germany,” said Birkett. “We are expecting it to become widely available in the spring of 2022.”

He said the message for partners that relied on printer sales for their livelihoods was to take a look at the revenues that could come from services.

“One thing we do know is that services secure the annuitised revenue,” he said. “We also know that as you start to sell services based around maintenance and supplies, it becomes much easier for the business to then adapt to other services in the cloud through software.

“So things like print management cloud printing, as well as moving into areas like workflow automation and software automation. These things enable the business to generate both recurring revenue but also brand-new revenue streams and therefore we think it’s a great move for our partners.”

No one quite knows how many customers will opt for hybrid working, and to what degree workers will be based at home, but HP is making sure it has options for its channel to meet various scenarios.

“After a year and a half of unprecedented change, it has become abundantly clear that flexibility is paramount,” said George Brasher, general manager and global head, print services and solutions at HP. 

“With this in mind, we have taken the complexity out of managed print services and made it as simple and seamless as possible. In fact, customers don’t even choose a plan. Our innovative Smart Plan adjusts automatically to the best cost option based on what was actually printed, so IT departments can focus less on overseeing printing services and more what really matters.”

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