We’ve all heard of print monitoring. Any smart provider knows that empowering customers with the ability to assess their print operations, spot out problems in the fleet, and save on output costs is a great way to strengthen customer relationships. It is also an effective way to build another revenue stream for dealers, which is important in an age where print output continues to decrease.
At Buyers Lab, we wanted more insight into this function that is so popular yet often taken for granted. As Print Tracker is one of the more successful monitoring software providers in this space, we asked the company's Sales and Marketing Director Brian D. Dawson five questions to get his thoughts on the matter.
Robert Watts: Summarize, in your words, the importance of print monitoring for an organization.
Brian Dawson: There are certainly a variety of ways business machine dealers can gather device information. To me it is all about efficiency. Automating manual processes helps to free up time that would otherwise be spent on relatively mundane, but important tasking.
What accounting person really wants to spend their time calling customers for meters? I also believe it is important for dealers to help keep their customers’ equipment operational. When enabled, monitoring software can provide the dealer with advanced notice of supply and/or service need.
Staying ahead of need, particularly to offer supply fulfillment, is the first level of a managed print service engagement. Without continuous monitoring, an automated fulfillment process would not be possible. Adding service fulfillment and equipment management would also be challenging without some type of print monitoring process.
Efficiencies come into play when dealers can process billing with automatically gathered meters, complete “just-in-time” supply fulfillment, provide needed service before the customer calls with a “down” machine, or make equipment placement recommendations based on print volumes gathered over time. Print monitoring provides all this and more.
RW: Do you see growth in print monitoring technology?
BD: Print monitoring technology is maturing, particularly here in North America. The primary software companies have evolved to a state where very little has changed in the way information is gathered.
That said, there are still opportunities for growth…largely driven by the needs of the client. As a global provider, we see devices that traditionally have gone unmonitored, or in some cases, gathered data is incomplete. As clients encounter equipment, Print Tracker engineers research equipment capability so missing information can be added. All clients benefit when new ways of gathering information is found.
Another way gathering technology grows is when the customer seeks information not traditionally provided by the gathering software. We have a client in South Africa that wanted some specific metering detail for Canon devices, and those devices were not found in great numbers elsewhere. Our engineers partnered with the client to determine the specific SNMP OIDs where the information could be found, and in short order, all Canon meters began to report. Now ALL clients, wherever they may be, can get every Canon meter and can, if they choose, bill for additional revenue.
RW: What are some of the challenges in opportunities facing technology growth?
BD: Software providers need to be flexible to the needs of their clients. Larger companies tend to be less able to be flexible in that regard. Needs drive technology advancement; providers should be open to enhancement requests. Most of our releases include monitoring and reporting ideas suggested by users of our software.
Technology advances at the speed of business. As software providers and as new practices come to the forefront, we must evolve with the business. Today, gathered data needs to be available to people in the field, whereas just a few years ago, most managers worked from a desktop or laptop. We now offer the ability to manage software settings, report schedules, device alerts, and even generate reports on tablets and mobile phones. I believe print monitoring technology will continue to grow in this direction as dealers request additional mobile access to information.
RW: How robust is your company’s print monitoring functionality?
BD: Simplicity is the hallmark of Print Tracker’s abilities. Print Tracker engineers strive to include features our clients want and need while keeping the software easy to use. Few technicians want to spend 30–40 minutes configuring a network or installing additional software just to get their monitoring tool deployed. Print Tracker offers a half dozen different ways to gather device information and most people can successfully install in a matter of a few minutes. Some deployments can even be initiated from the dealer’s office without having need for the technician to go on location.
Print Tracker gathers device information and directs it to the person or people who can take action. Meters, device status, and more are retrieved. Account administrators can enter status action notes detailing what is being done with a reported alert. Dispatchers can use the software to help them prepare service cars so the right inventory is available for the service call. Accounting staff can use gathered meters to process billing and with our Data Processor, can have meters imported into ERP platforms to automate the billing process.
Account managers can generate volume analysis reporting and can also use the onboard Total Cost of Ownership Estimator to calculate contract profitability. For our clients who have CRM software, Print Tracker information can be imported into many of the industries widely used software.
Print Tracker is very robust. It stays operational and reporting so dealers don’t have to worry about missing data. At Print Tracker we do our best to provide the information needed by clients.
RW: Can you provide any standout testimonies from dealers or end users on the benefits of tracking print jobs?
BD: Happy customers are the lifeblood of every business. Over the years we have amassed a host of businesses and people willing to provide referrals upon request. Many have provided comments telling of services they have received over the years. One can review testimonials on the News and Testimonials page of our website.
At Print Tracker, we believe in providing customer service as if we are serving friends. It is a great way to build relationships and I now have friends all over the world.
About Print Tracker
Print Tracker is an MPS software solutions company with over eleven years of service to the imaging device and business machine industry. Print Tracker provides simple-to-install, intuitive-to-use MPS software solutions. Tools include meter gathering software, advanced deployment options, fast meter capture, alert generation, service and meter viewers, webAdmin, customized reporting, an adaptable TCO Estimator, integration of meters and alert information into ERP systems, and automated supply fulfillment.
About Brian Dawson
Coming to Print Tracker from outside the imaging industry in 2009, Brian brings a unique perspective of how copiers, MFPs and printers are viewed by real users. Consistently producing top results with practiced management and energetic follow up, Brian applies his passion for program development. Brian is a results-oriented, commercial sales and marketing director with a strong record of achievement while improving opportunities.