Dell to launch managed print services unit

Dell could start offering managed print services later this year as it tries to extend its reach in the printing and imaging market, a company executive said.

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The managed print services market is currently dominated by Xerox and Hewlett-Packard, which also offer document management services. HP in September formed a new print services division to combine software and services around printing hardware. The same month, Xerox announced it would acquire services company Affiliated Computer Services for $6.4 billion to expand its document and business process management offerings.

Dell will be entering a lucrative market with a small number of players, and gaining a small market share could generate good revenue, said Charles King, president at Pund-IT. Dell may try to gain control of the growing amount of data within enterprises through printing, imaging and scanning services and document management, he said.

"The sheer volume of information that businesses are creating, accumulating and storing... continues to increase. That's not going to slow down," King said. There will be an increased demand for services to manage those documents, which could blur the line between document digitization and management.

The acquisition of Perot Systems is a nice beachhead for Dell to enter printing services and document management, especially in niche markets such as health care, King said. Perot in 2007 acquired the consulting group within Meditech, which offers software and consulting services to move paper medical records to electronic records. Dell also last week announced a medical document management product called Medical Archiving that includes a PowerEdge server to access, store and distribute medical records.

But for other niche markets, Dell may need to partner with small companies with domain expertise to develop software that could match its server, storage and printing and imaging hardware, King said. It cannot develop homegrown hardware and software by itself for all markets, and customers like choice, King said.

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