Feeble printer margins could become a thing of the past for Hewlett-Packard's (HP's) channel, if its plan to drive VARs to sell managed printer services is a success.
The scheme could multiply printer margins from single figures into healthy double digits by including consulting services and consumables in contracts spanning several years.
Ian Whittaker, vice-president of HP's imaging and printing group, said: "We've been looking at this for a while. Like all of these things it is a matter of when. Within the next six, nine or 12 months you'll potentially see some things happening."
The target for HP's managed printing services has been the top 1,000 corporate customers. It has completed pilots with Capgemini, Computacenter and two firms with an office products background, Danwood and Ikon.
But Whittaker said plans are afoot to introduce the scheme to HP's broader channel, serving customers with 500 people or more. "If we can simplify the tools to do that, we can get it into the mid-market," he said.
Neil Evans, head of HP business at Computacenter, said that in the past year of working with HP's pilot it has won "half a dozen" deals between £15m and £50m providing managed print services to large customers in the UK, France and Germany.
A typical deal involves a customer's printers being audited, its printing habits and needs being assessed and, after the formulation of a printer strategy, a contract being drawn up for the provision of hardware, consumables, consulting and possibly workflow management.
In a published HP case study, Capgemini was cited as having saved £1.5m by using print services to manage its 936 printers in 18 different locations.
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