Samsung pushes print boundaries with software innovation
Samsung Printing Solutions held its European Printing Partner Summit from 8th – 9th June in Budapest, Hungary, hosting over 250 attendees from 22 European countries. Under the theme of “The Next Big Thing in Printing Solutions,” Samsung showcased its product portfolio of smart printing solutions and printing hardware, as well as its Channel Managed Print Services (MPS) + Plus program.
Samsung positions itself at the heart of the paradigm shift in printing. The consumerisation of IT, the shift from paper to digital documents, the use of mobile devices and cloud services are all driving the need for more reliable, secure and collaborative workflow solutions. Expectations for anytime, anywhere access to information on any device is only set to increase as the millennial generation of workers reshape the technologies used in the digital workplace. As such, the print industry faces challenging times to keep up with digital convergence. In a commoditised hardware market characterised by shrinking margins and declining to flat page volumes, intuitive, mobile-led workflow solutions and services are the key to building new and long-term revenue opportunities.
Harnessing IoT for print
Samsung has made great strides over the past year to lead the market in software innovation built on an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. Indeed, as a company Samsung is betting heavily on the IoT, with the smartphone increasingly becoming the gateway to other connected devices. Samsung has pledged to make all its devices, from TVs and sound systems to washing machines and fridges, IoT-ready by 2020. When it comes to print, leveraging IoT technology can transform field service and asset management. Smart multifunction printers (MFPs) report on their device status such as consumables usage, print usage and service data. Through continuous remote monitoring, device behaviour can be analysed to predict equipment malfunctions before they happen and so optimise device maintenance and servicing.
Expanding Smart UX Printing Software Ecosystem
One key element of Samsung’s open IoT model is its Smart UX Center, an Android-based open ecosystem which enhances a smart MFP with smartphone or tablet functionality. The Smart UX Center offers a range of apps and widgets providing customisation for specific workflows. The Printing App Center acts as a web portal, enabling end users to download various apps and widgets with access through devices or a PC. Samsung is also actively encouraging partners and developers to download the SDK for app development. Since its launch in January 2016, the Smart UX portfolio has expanded to include a total of 33 apps and to date, Samsung has over 330 active developers signed up. Samsung highlighted the most recent additions to its Smart UX Center around the following themes:
Samsung has developed a range of service apps to ensure reliable service for customers and enable channel partners who can reduce customer visits and repair time. This can be a significant overhead for partners managing devices at disparate locations. Better device uptime, improved productivity and improved customer relationships will enable partners to potentially expand margins.
- RemoteCall. This provides diagnostic services to Samsung’s serverless printers with Smart UX Centers. Designed to minimise service visits, the app connects engineers directly with customers that request service. The user can reach an engineer by entering a 6-digit connection code provided by a support representative. Once connection is established, the engineer can view and control the user’s multifunction printer to fix errors. RemoteCall can diagnose malfunctions, assign the right engineer or repair person to provide support, check device status remotely, and provide a range of advice for troubleshooting. The remote engineer can operate from the Smart UX Center or with the user’s PC, or even communicate by mobile chat.
- SPDS (Smart Printer Diagnostic System). This app, with visual guides for troubleshooting Samsung printers, was designed to help provide consistent and high quality service to customers, minimizing repair time and cost. With a tap of the engineer’s smartphone on the device, the app recognizes the printer’s error and generates a diagnosis. Then, following the guides (including about 600 short videos), the engineer can fix the problem. All Samsung’s MPS engineers are equipped with this capability.
Document workflow apps provide a simple way of enabling users to connect paper and digital workflows. This is a significant opportunity for partners to develop customised apps for specific vertical needs and add solutions value to a hardware sale.
- Dynamic Workflow. This enables the creation of customised workflows, integrating tasks such as scanning, optical character recognition, text editing and document distribution into a single workflow. So for instance, different workflows could be set up for scanning invoices or receipts with pre-defined output destinations – such as Box, Scan and Send, cloud storage or a B2B application.
Mobile printing is now becoming a standard feature, but capabilities vary and it is often not the most intuitive process. As well as its own cloud printing apps, Samsung’s collaboration with PrinterOn provides a range of cloud and mobile print solutions for businesses of all size. These include:
- Printer On Hosted. A Software as a Service (SaaS) model designed for public locations such as hospitality, libraries and airports. Any document whether it be Google Cloud Print, iOS, mobile apps, web upload, or e-mail—gets rendered in the cloud and securely delivered to the PrinterOn-enabled printer of choice.
- PrinterOn Enterprise/Express. A universal solution to connect disparate networks and mixed brand fleets across an organisation. All that is required is to forward documents, including attachments from your smartphones, to a specific email address tied to a printer. PrinterOn Enterprise processes the document and provides a release code to securely release the print. PrinterOn Enterprise also works with print management systems such as Equitrac and PaperCut and authenticates with LDAP and Active Directory. PrinterOn Express is available for SMB organisations of less than 150 employees.
Deploying PrinterOn on Samsung printers requires a one-time registration of the service. The PrinterOn embedded agents work with all of PrinterOn’s Enterprise, Express, and Hosted editions.
New Channel MPS programme
Samsung launched the Channel MPS+ Programme aiming to provide a low cost MPS model for its partners to create additional revenue streams. Partners buy hardware with an option to purchase a Print+ support pack. This provides auto ink replacement for one year, automatically renewing every year. Toner pricing is fixed for three years so partners have a known profit over that period. Samsung offers two types of contract with maintenance either by the partner or Samsung. Partners can therefore blend contracts depending on where their service engineers are based.
The single Print+ MPS platform offers capabilities such as configuration and pricing, contract and proposals, order and installation, monitor and support and billing. The platform is hosted by PrintFleet and Samsung does not have access to customer data, only toner information in order to forecast toner availability.
This simple low cost automation supplies and service offering with pay-as-you-go billing will appeal to many partners who need a low cost and fast way to access the lucrative MPS market. The Samsung Channel MPS Print+ Program will launch in the UK and Belgium in June 2016, and will roll out to most other European countries in the second half of the year.
Expanding the channel opportunity
Samsung is working hard to bring innovation to the printing market and Quocirca believes it is strongly positioned to expand its business printing market share through broader collaboration with channel and industry partners. Amongst its traditional competitors, Samsung is the only vendor to effectively articulate a software-driven print strategy for today’s mobile and connected workplace. By virtue of a strong consumer brand which is increasingly influential in the business world, its mobile technology leadership and a growing developer ecosystem around its Smart UX Center platform Samsung has all the ingredients for success.
Critical to its success of course is engagement with its channel partners. These partners will need to transition to trusted advisor status to provide compelling printing solutions propositions for customers where there is little to differentiate on hardware alone. Samsung will need to continue to train and educate its partner community on how it can monetise software apps to expand solutions sales and potentially hardware sales. The Samsung UX center can open up huge opportunities for resellers that are ready to use it as a consulting tool and recognise the incremental revenue they can gain from a software-led sale. Some resellers are already reaping the benefits.
For instance, Masinelli, an Italian reseller demonstrated a marketing app and web portal it had developed for its client Buffetti, a leading office equipment reseller in Europe. The app allows Bufetti central marketing to deliver flyers and promotional content to an app installed on a Samsung MFP, Buffetti shops can then edit and create customised marketing flyers. As a result of investing time and resources in this app development, Massinelli reported an increase in hardware sales and services opportunity over a five-year period.
Although it still has work to do engaging its channel to embrace the solutions-led sale, Samsung has already moved ahead of its traditional competitors with a mobile-first, IoT led strategy. So far it has only scratched the surface of innovation – expanding its developer ecosystem with compelling solutions will be key to Samsung increasing momentum in a highly competitive market.