The company’s Cloud Services platform takes dealers up where they belong.
You know Lexmark as a leading provider of A4 and industry-specific solutions. But you may not know that Lexmark was one of the first OEMs to introduce cloud offerings that allow partners to gain greater security and control over their remote fleets with real-time visibility. With the introduction of Lexmark Cloud Services in 2018, the company consolidated its library of solutions and migrated them into the cloud, elevating the concept of managing and servicing printers and A4 devices into the stratosphere.
Lexmark Cloud Services is a holistic suite of solutions that can be deployed automatically with minimal professional service costs or on-premises infrastructure, reducing the involvement of an internal IT department while providing a stable and flexible print environment. Two key elements of the Cloud Services platform are Cloud Fleet Management and Cloud Print Management. Lexmark plans to introduce Cloud Scan Management later this year. Cloud Fleet Management provides customers with enterprise-class capabilities, including remote device management and firmware updates. Described by the company as its first premium cloud offering, Cloud Print Management enables secure direct cloud printing from various clients via the Lexmark cloud to any print device on the network.
Lexmark Cloud Services offers a variety of modular capabilities to customers with a Lexmark device and internet connection, adding value to Lexmark’s product line and making it easier for dealers to do business with the company. It also enables dealers to enhance their service efficiency while providing dealers of virtually any size with enterprise-level expertise. “Lexmark continues to leverage what we’ve learned over the years in the enterprise and in global managed print services, and we are bringing those tools to our partners,” said Clark Bugg, director North American channel sales for Lexmark. “Our dealers appreciate that.”
Now, dealers representing the Lexmark brand have expertise and tools available to them that they might not otherwise have on their own thanks to the Cloud Services platform. As dealers are challenged by a lack of resources—whether it’s sales, professional services, or providing customers with the on-prem infrastructure related to security—these new tools allow dealers to focus on the value add. “Recently, we released the latest revision of our firmware,” said Eric McCann, manager, software product marketing at Lexmark. “When we marked it recommended, it showed up in the portal of every partner, allowing them to schedule that firmware update through the portal. Before that, it would’ve taken numerous emails and visits. They all see value in that.”
The combined functionality of Cloud Fleet Management and Cloud Print Management provides a cloud-enabled tool that delivers remote device management, print job management, document accounting, and scan management features. A service manager can view the status of the overall fleet they are managing, as well as the devices of a specific customer. “This gives you the macro, as well as micro, view of what’s going on within the fleet,” explained Bugg. “Anytime a dealer can do call prevention or not have to roll out that van, that’s a huge benefit.”
Indeed, these capabilities add value to Lexmark’s partners’ traditional business models. “It still allows them to stay in high touch with their customers but remotely,” said Bugg. This is especially appealing to partners who have invested in network operations centers and help desks that resolve issues remotely. “They’ve seen the value of this in the IT space; now, it’s moving into the document imaging space as a value-added service,” said Bugg.
Another value add is the ability to pre-enroll a device before shipping it to the customer. When the customer plugs it in and boots it up, it automatically enrolls the device and is ready to be managed. “No touch, no truck,” said McCann.
Lexmark’s goal with the Cloud Services platform was to create a no-infrastructure solution. “What would be better than adding that data collection to the native firmware, so that any box, when it’s unpackaged and plugged in, is ready to be a direct connection to the cloud,” said McCann.
“We want to change the conversation in terms of the right device in the right place, and how it ties into this larger ecosystem of interconnected devices where the infrastructure and service are in the cloud, allowing you to do more remotely and redeploy resources in new ways or into other IT services,” added Bugg.
Another key benefit of the Cloud Services platform is security protocols, which reduces another IT burden. “End-customers are challenged with trying to do more with fewer people, just like our dealers,” said Bugg. “Print servers can be a prime candidate to move to the cloud. When you do that, there’s less to maintain, more flexibility, less redundancy, and more scalability.” As an example, Bugg referenced the half a million dollars in savings that Lexmark achieved when it moved its infrastructure from print servers to the cloud.
There’s a lot of interest in Lexmark Cloud Services among Lexmark’s Business Solutions Dealers (BSDs). “We know how high touch and important customer relationships are to them, and they are looking to do more remotely without always having someone on site,” said Bugg. “That high-touch business model is part of maintaining the relationship with their customer. Lexmark Cloud Services gives them more flexibility than ever and the ability to respond faster to their customers through the cloud.”
The Cloud Services platform is especially appealing to dealers that are highly engaged in MPS and IT services. “Our partners have a good handle on the metrics they use to run their business—metrics around call prevention, call elimination, and not overusing parts,” said Bugg. “What we are seeing is when partners take a step back and look at their Lexmark fleet and the number of service calls they’re able to eliminate over the course of a month, there is real ROI [return on investment] numbers that they can use.” The ultimate benefits to the dealer range from reduced travel time and costs to an improved customer experience because fleets are maintained, configured, and updated through the cloud.
Although Lexmark Cloud Services was initially designed for Lexmark devices, many partners sell multiple brands. Because of this, the platform now supports blended fleets. A third-party release function allows print jobs to be released on non-Lexmark devices in a customer’s fleet. On the horizon is leveraging Microsoft services, as well as scanning and translation services, where a user can take a document, scan it, and select a language. The document is then translated into that language during the scanning process. Follow-me scanning is another enhancement in the works and will allow users to set up scan shortcuts in the cloud. Everywhere the user authenticates themselves, they’ll be able to use their scan shortcuts on the device as a follow-me scan. “These will be value-add services that allow the partner to make money,” emphasized McCann. “When we think about the future design of our hardware and solutions there’s a cloud-thinking behind that.”
Another important element of Lexmark’s cloud initiative is predictive maintenance. “You’ve heard us talk about the sensors we build into the device and the ability to predict what the device is going to do before an actual service incident happens,” explained Bugg. “We want to make more of that information available to our partners. One of the places where we see the business going is more analysis of big data, not only for print fleets but also for other IoT-connected devices. There is more information that we can provide to our partners around predictive services.”
Ultimately, Lexmark wants to position itself as a part of a dealer’s long-term strategic decisions. “We view this as a holistic ecosystem that we want our partners to participate and take the lead in,” said Bugg. “We’re hoping dealers will recognize that Lexmark is investing in a toolset that provides immediate benefits and that we have a long-term vision beyond where the industry is now.”
For more information on Lexmark Cloud Solutions visit lexmark.com (https://lexmark.com/cloud).