In the M2M (machine-to-machine) and M2P (machine-to-people)
worlds, MWA Intelligence (MWAi) has fashioned a reputation for
itself as a solutions provider that is adept at helping companies
transition their field service operations from cost centers to
profit centers. MWAi’s Intelligent Service and Intelligent
Workforce solutions along with its Intelligent Asset solution
provide national copy/print companies and office equipment dealers
with asset management, information exchange, and the ability to
improve field service and customer support. Those solutions meet
the needs of large national copy/print companies along with
President & CEO Mike Stramaglio, a 30-year veteran of the office
equipment industry, has been the driving force behind MWAi during
the past four years. His background working with the OEMs and his
interactions with independent dealers provide him with an astute
understanding of the channel. Recently, ENX had an opportunity to
speak with Stramaglio about MWAi, managed print services (MPS),
and issues confronting today’s independent dealer.
There’s always something happening at MWAi, what’s new?
Stramaglio: We recently added the first of what will be a few new
iPhone applications that provision the mobile workforce and the
service department. We’re excited about that and think it will be
a big thing. We’ve been very aggressive in the MPS environment and
marketplace and we’ve secured a Gold Sponsorship for the San
Antonio MPS Conference in May. I encourage dealers to attend
because it’s shaping up to be a great conference.
What will you be showing at the conference?
Stramaglio: We’ll be demonstrating some very cool products, one of
which we’ve already launched, but it’s just now coming to market.
It’s a product called Scope. Scope is a collaboration with Sharp.
It’s a very exciting product and big entry into the MPS and M2M
world because it allows us to tunnel remotely into the front panel
of Sharp’s new Frontier line and do firmware upgrades as well as
diagnose or fix the machine remotely based on a whole menu of
service protocols. No one has done this before, at least not that
I’m aware of. Sharp’s done a phenomenal job in the collaboration,
and essentially they’re pushing what they’re calling IDVM so it’s
Scope i-DVM. Basically what that allows you to do is remote
maintenance and diagnose break and fix. In addition to that, it
has a built-in tunnel so any dealer who is an MWAi dealer on the
service side of the business can turn on a toggle and access all
of the benefits of our current IS solutions, which is very cool.
Besides showcasing your new applications, what are your
expectations for this conference?
Stramaglio: To learn. I think it’s a phenomenal set up for people
to go and learn. The good news about this particular conference is
that they have a lot of consumers who are users of MPS programs.
There’ll be a series of tracks and the last MPS conference I
attended in Amsterdam was phenomenal. They had lots of end-user
speakers as well as people in high positions from HP and IBM
Global Services, so you can see and feel how things are changing
in the marketplace from companies that use it and provide it that
you don’t normally come in contact with.
What might you learn from an end-user at one of these conferences
that would be helpful in your strategic planning?
Stramaglio: Quite a few things, but what comes to mind very
quickly is how they construct their requests for bid. What are
they looking for? How do they seek information to construct those
bids? What are they’re looking for in the way of IT security and
managed print services? How do they procure products? Basically,
how do they go about their decision-making process and over what
period of time do they plan on consuming those types of products?
It’s a remarkable thing because you have people who have 10, 15,
20,000 printers and MFPs, and the learning curve for folks like
myself and others is amazing. Attending these conferences has
convinced me that the end-user is significantly smarter than the
Why do you say that?
Stramaglio: They are very aware of the types of products that can
be acquired that go beyond what a typical copier dealer or
distributor would deliver. They know, for example, that you can
get print assessments quickly. They know about service alerts and
service information and they’re demanding it.
What do you think that means to the copier dealer if their
customers or prospects have this kind of knowledge?
Stramaglio: Sometimes the distribution underestimates the power of
the end-user. I think the message for the dealer is you better
pick your best possible partners who can provide you with the
right technology in a streamlined way that puts you in a position
to bring these products to the end-user in a smart way. Don’t
ignore that reality. Dealers need to get inside their customer
base and get inside the IT communities of that customer base at
the major account level and help them activate and/or participate
in either an RFI or the RFP. Independent dealers typically don’t
How do you see your future partnerships developing and expanding
beyond the two high-profile ones you have with Sharp and Samsung?
Stramaglio: We see a lot of opportunities in the near future.
There will be two or three additional announcements on the OEM
side coming up in the next six months. I also see our offshore
distribution growing. We solidified, in 2009, two great partners
in Asia and Europe. That’s going well for us and I see us
expanding into certain parts of South America. Our internal
organic growth is consistent and manageable and our offshore
geographic growth is very much a part of our plan.
Has MWA been affected by downturn in the economy?
Stramaglio: We have. Certainly when the dealer community is
suffering we’re very sensitive to those challenges. There’s good
and bad news in this. The good news for MWAi is that everything we
do is about recovering expenses for improving gross profit or
gross margin for the dealer. Our customers enjoy our products for
these very reasons—they can improve their call response times and
lower their per-call costs. It’s all about recovery of expense and
it is provable with a well-validated ROI. At the same time, we
know the dealer is not so quick to spend money. They have to deal
with leasing companies reducing their approval rates from 95 to 65
percent. The cycle has slowed down and we have to be careful when
we ask to partner with the dealer that we’re providing a service
that is faster and better so they can get their return quicker.
That’s something we’re very respectful of.
Have you had to do anything special to ride this out?
Stramaglio: We continue to modify our business model so we’re more
of a services type of provider and we avoid as much as possible
any front-end investment. Our position is: The market is
suffering; we bring a good value. The dealer is struggling to
continue to be profitable, so our business model should be
sensitive to the risk and offer more shared risks, shared reward
types of programs.
What are some of the bigger obstacles you have to overcome when
talking to a dealer who is on the fence about whether or not to
partner with MWA?
Stramaglio: The big issue is the confusion created by simple
metering versus a fully integrated system. Our mission over the
last year and going into this year is very clear. We’re extremely
focused on the three components of MPS—service, device management,
and procurement. It’s not about the meter. That’s putting the cart
ahead of the horse. Print assessment and metering are features of
the enterprise, they are not the enterprise.
We don’t charge our enterprise customers for meters; it’s part and
parcel of the overall product. Service and the ability to do
break/fix, remote diagnose and fix, global dispatch, and all the
billing associated with that are the cornerstones of MPS. Metering
is a part of the offering and I think dealers have become and will
become even more sensitive to the data that comes out of all the
service analytics and data fields for managing that service.
Do you think this emphasis on MPS is overblown or do you really
see this as the future of the industry?
Stramaglio: That’s a great question. I think the acronym is a
little overblown, but what it represents absolutely is not. There
are two types of businesses, one is secular and one is cyclical.
Cyclical is just that, it’s a rotation. You’ll see summer months
and winter months. Secular means it has changed forever. What I
honestly believe is what we’re seeing will improve, but what we’re
doing and the way we’re doing it will be secular. It is changing
forever. I think MPS has championed the cause of that and I have
no doubt the next generation of this business will be pushed by
automation driving service, machines, and procurement.
You’ve worked on the OEM side. Where do you see the OEMs fitting
into this MPS world, especially as they bring out their own MPS
Stramaglio: There will be the great ones, the also-rans, and then
there will be new ones. When you look at Canon and you look at
Ricoh, these are big companies and they’ve got challenges right
now just to manage their business. They’re merging distribution,
merging product lines, managing all the expenses and things that
go along with that, and I think they’re going to be consumed with
managing those businesses in new ways. I think they’ll be
challenged to determine where to invest in software such as what
MWAi does. I think the OEMs are going to be better served if they
know, and are smart enough to realize, they can’t be everything to
With networked printers and locally connected printers, all the
data fields and analytic, and all of the job routing and software
for landscaping, standards will evolve and OEMs are going to have
to figure out a way to deliver those products in the framework of
those standards. I think some of them will do well and some will
not. I think there will be a large group who will look to partners
to help them develop some of these unique products going forward.
They just don’t have the time, energy, and financial resources to
do it themselves.
Looking ahead, where is MWA going to be as this MPS wave
Stramaglio: We’re going to continue to add more features. Our
investments are wrapped around many of the conventional features
on the service side—adding greater mobility capability, adding
optimized scheduling capability—features on the service side that
we continue to improve as the science of all these becomes more
capable for us to draw from. We will be adding a tremendous number
of—call it “open ware” or “freeware” with partners like Sharp and
Samsung. I see other people coming into the marketplace whom we’ll
be working with, allowing us to add more intelligence to the M2M
piece and the M2P piece.
Something very new, and something that is a whole lot of fun as
well as a game changer, is our launching of what we call the
National Managed Print Services program (nMPS). This is where we
will—and it’s not just us, the marketplace will demand
this—provide a national fleet of service technicians for the
dealer community who will manage, open and close calls, invoice
those calls, and procure HP supplies and parts or other supplies
and parts for a big dealer in Baltimore, for example, that places
10,000 printers across the country, but who can’t service them
outside his territory. We will provide the technology for remote
break/fix and monitoring and provide the actual dispatch using
copier-centric service software where the dealer can see, open and
close the call managed to his SLAs. We’ll send people out to
manage the break/fix. That’s huge!
Scott Cullen is a contributing editor to ENX and has been writing
on the office equipment industry since 1986.