If you look at studies that identify the top IT concerns for businesses today, you will see that security always ranks at the very top of the list. Of course, IT security can involve many different layers: protecting the network from outside attacks, securing devices, managing access to connected assets, maintaining content integrity, and preventing the disclosure of confidential information, just to name a few.
If you think about it, most of these issues revolve around the need to protect an organization’s most valued asset: information. Businesses are spending billions of dollars on enterprise content management (ECM) software and investing heavily in both internal and external systems to help gain control over business-critical content. Compounding the problem is the continued drive toward mobility and the cloud. In today’s business environment, knowledge workers demand 24/7 access to information, which means that content must be constantly accessible both from inside and outside the corporate firewall.
Straddling the fence between convenience and the protection of content is where many organizations find themselves today — looking for solutions that will help catapult them into the new world of digital data while mitigating the risks from additional exposure and outside threats.
It is interesting to see how the office imaging market has evolved as it relates to the issue of IT security. Today’s MFPs represent an interesting dichotomy. On one hand, the connected MFP is a potential security risk as an unmanaged connected device. On the other, the MFP could be leveraged as a front-line asset for managing content security and protecting access to information. Even so, most businesses do not think of the office MFP as a security risk, or for that matter as potential device for managing content security.
As a result, office equipment dealers and MPS providers should become experts at security solutions built around the MFP. These solutions not only represent an important opportunity to drive incremental revenue and profit, they can also help strengthen the bond between you and your customer. Once involved in helping your customers manage security you become a trusted advisor — likely the highest level you could reach as a recognized service provider.
Make no mistake, there is a plethora of new security solutions coming to market for the MFP, some of which are standalone software applications and others that can be embedded in the device. These software applications address issues such as secure print and mobile print, device access management, digital rights management, secure document capture and routing, data protection, network protection, secure network access, and the list goes on. Many of these solutions are designed to integrate with third-party document management and ECM systems to provide further protection and to address governance and regulation compliance issues.
As service providers, we must focus on those issues customers value most. When you consider the amount of money that will likely be spent over the next decade in areas of content management and information security, it only makes sense to expand deeply into those segments. If you are actively searching for ways to increase customer spend and enhance the value of your customer relationships, look no further than developing significant expertise in content security.
Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. He has more than 25 years experience in the printing industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. Palmer is a popular speaker and presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.