Following the leader

Posted on Dec 6 2016 - 8:05am by Editorial Content
RATING

PrintIT Reseller talks to Eric Crump, Director of Strategic Alliances at Ringdale, about the company’s FollowMe print management software.

Ringdale, best known as the inventor of follow me printing back in 1997, is still a force to be reckoned with in print management. A Top 5 ISV for enterprise print management, it continues to refine its software to meet the needs of mid-market and enterprise customers in Healthcare, Finance, Government and other sectors where security and compliance are essential. PrintIT Reseller spoke to Director of Strategic Alliances Eric Crump about the company’s strengths and the enhancements it has made to the latest version of FollowMe.

PITR: What proportion of Ringdale’s revenue comes from FollowMe and what is its share of the print management market globally and in the UK?Eric Crump (EC): Over 80% of Ringdale’s revenue still comes from FollowMe. Outside the US, we are in the Top 5 of secure document output solutions for enterprises. This is a very fragmented market with many, many providers, yet we are continuing to see double-digit growth year-on-year at 16%.

PITR: Print management software has been a big growth area in the last decade. Are sales still rising or has the market become saturated?EC: Sales are still going up. IDC states that between now and 2020 the print management market will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.1%. So Ringdale is growing, and it’s growing at more than twice the rate of the print management market globally.

We focus on mid-market and enterprise accounts, and we definitely see an opportunity there, because these organisations are concerned about security and compliance. Financial institutions, investment firms, hospitals, Government agencies – these are the key market segments that we focus on. Other solutions providers in this space are more focused on the legal sector, education or SMB customers. That’s why there’s so much fragmentation in the market.

Our channel partners, whether system integrators or OEMs, are focusing on these key segments, and are growing sales because the requirement for MPS is greater in mid-market and large enterprise organisations. Over 75% of these companies have multi-vendor fleets and they need a solution that can work in that space. OEM solutions on the market typically only support their own brand of product, so it’s very important that we provide a multi-vendor or vendor-neutral solution.

PITR: What are some of the key growth areas for FollowMe in the UK?

EC: There are some terrific opportunities in government and healthcare where we see hundreds and thousands of devices being managed through a print management solution. The NHS is looking to use less paper and accelerate digitisation and our solution is right in line with that, so we are working with providers who have access to framework agreements. Some of them are OEMs who have contracts with the NHS; some are channel partners that have multiple offices across the UK.

ITR: You mention digitisation. Are there other workplace trends that are driving FollowMe adoption levels?

EC: Mobile printing is definitely having a big impact because while there are lots of different ways to enable mobile printing, most don’t offer any kind of control over saving paper or security or connecting BYOD to the network to enable printing. Ours is a complete solution that incorporates mobile printing as just another way of doing network printing, with all the security, all the recording, all the auditing of other methods. Mobile printing is not a special project for these large organisations; it is just part of the way they look to print. They want a holistic approach: they do not want to have one solution for mobile print and another for office print and have to manage that.

When it comes to digitisation, the major request is for authentication so that employees can use the scanner and scan-to-email. We make this process faster and easier by pre-authenticating the user so that when they swipe their badge the scan goes straight to their email account; they don’t have to fumble with the touchscreen to type in their email or password. Authentication has to be this easy if users are to adopt paper-saving digital processes.

We are seeing this also with mobile printing. There are lots of solutions on the market that require you to type in a user name and password to access your print jobs, whereas we allow all that to be done automatically by swiping a badge. We are making it easy for people to be able to print. And this has benefits for our channel partners. Page volumes have been declining and mobile printing is are a way to get additional pages. In the end, it has to be simple and easy for end users to print, or they won’t.

PITR: What do you think are FollowMe’s unique selling points compared to competitor offerings?EC: The first thing is the industrial strength of the product. Some larger organisations need a product to work with 10s of 1,000s of employees. We work with hospitals that have 100s of devices and 15 or 20 people per device. That’s a lot of people. That infrastructure has to work and it has to work all the time and within the security parameters of the organisation. If it doesn’t, it’s going to have ramifications for patient care and costs.

Another thing we focus on is making everything easy for the channel partner or the customer. One of the reasons most of our channel partners work with us is because there is not much they need to do on the post-sales side. After FollowMe has been installed, it pretty much works. The channel partner doesn’t have to send people out to fix problems or adjust things to make it work, and customers are happy because the product just works.

A third advantage, as I’ve already mentioned, is integration of mobile as a standard part of our product. We’re the highest rated ISV solution by Buyers Lab that includes both mobile and office printing in one complete solution. Other solutions on the market require add-on products that are usually from another vendor. That adds a lot more complexity for the channel partner both in selling to the customer and in understanding where the problem lies if something goes wrong.

PITR: What are some of the stand-out features of the new version of FollowMe?

EC: One thing we’ve added recently is the ability to integrate branch offices without the need for additional server architecture for follow me printing. We’ve had a lot of requests from retail and healthcare organisations to keep a lot of IT infrastructure, like servers, out of the initial cost and to reduce the amount of data going across the network by keeping it all in the branch. Information is being pushed out to more and more remote workers and there’s always the chance of a security breach. Having this solution in place all the way out to branch offices is critical for being able to manage data across a whole organisation.

Another thing we’ve introduced is data loss prevention (DLP). In the Quocirca MPS report that has just come out, it states that 61% of enterprises with over 1,000 employees have had a paper security breach. It is very easy for someone to print a load of documents, e.g. information on the company’s clients, put them in a briefcase and take them to their new employer. It’s very difficult to detect this kind of data breach. Over the last five years we’ve been creating bespoke solutions to help customers tackle this issue, but we’re now opening this up so that our channel partners are able to offer a paper and DLP solution and track activity across not just one vendor’s products but across all OEM brands. Now, when employees print from their tablet or PC, we can monitor what they are doing and discover if they are printing information that shouldn’t be printed, such as credit card numbers, health numbers or national ID numbers. Then we can either prevent it from being printed or alert an administrator and have it audited. Most DLP solutions for printing are vendor-specific, but ours is mult-vendor.

PITR: How do you think print management software will evolve in the future?

EC: When you look at the Gartner hype cycle around print, there are not many new things that stand out. One that does is print server consolidation. This has been on Gartner’s hype cycle for a number of years and, over time, what is meant by it has evolved. The most recent meaning is similar to what we’ve introduced with FollowMe version of 6.2 i.e. removing print servers from locations where they are not needed and creating direct printing support, with print tracking, follow me printing and security for branch offices. Then, from a technology perspective, we have looked at how we can make this as flexible as possible because mid-market and enterprise customers have very different ideas about how to deploy an IT infrastructure. What we have tried to do is come up with not just one way to provide branch office printing but 6 or 7 depending on the customer’s requirements.

PITR: You obviously sell through VARs. What other routes to market do you have?

EC: We do some direct sales, but it is limited to specific accounts that have requested us to go direct. We probably do less than 15% of our business direct. We also have relationships with OEMs who resell our solution as part of their portfolio. They have their own solutions as well, so they are partners and competitors at the same time. We have strategic relationships with 13 of them and have just introduced an embedded product for Brother, which is actually a very good solution for a branch office.

PITR: How many channel partners do you have in the UK and do you plan to increase that number?

EC: We have over 25 channel partners in the UK. We’re targeting partners looking to grow their businesses with managed print services for mid-market and enterprise accounts. We are prioritising quality over quantity, looking at partner organisations that have a professional services capability to serve the demanding requirements of our customer target market.

To find out more about FollowMe Q-Server version 6.2, please call Ringdale on 0800 214503; visit www.followme.ringdale.com

Eric Crump, Director of Strategic Alliances

Eric Crump, Director of Strategic Alliances

; or introduce yourself to the Ringdale team on Stand 53 at CompTIA’s 2016 EMEA Member and Partner Conference taking place on October 11-12 at 155 Bishopsgate, London.