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Device Relationship Management an Emerging Technology in the Copier and Printer Industry

What is Device Relationship Management (DRM)?
Device Relationship Management is a new genre of software infrastructure. It is designed to facilitate predictive maintenance and improve revenue streams from consumables and support, as well as monitor usage of network printing devices. DRM solutions encompass remote diagnostics and remote device monitoring, and can be implemented to scrutinize usage within the enterprise as well as establish real-time communications between the enterprise and suppliers of repair and maintenance services for networked copiers and printers.

DRM solutions, not to be confused with digital rights management solutions, promise more effective management of digital printing devices for the equipment suppliers and the equipment users. They also provide the opportunity to seamlessly integrate with the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems that many companies have invested in over the past several years.

How Will DRM Help My Business?

DRM enables providers of networked office equipment to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, incorporate more value-added services, and offset the margin erosion experienced in a mature industry that is selling products that are all too often perceived as commodity items.

Ten Easy Steps to Building a DRM Sales Strategy

Building a DRM sales strategy does not need to be overly complex, and offerings can be phased in over a period of time. Keeping this in mind, we suggest the following process:

  • Determine which elements of a DRM solution already exist in your product and service portfolio, and aggregate those elements into a cohesive offering.
  • Using the 80/20 rule, schedule executive-level discussions with the 20% of your customers who account for 80% of your business. These discussions should not be structured as sales calls. Instead, they should be designed to educate these executives on the concept and value of DRM, determine whether DRM is being utilized in any other part of their business, and begin building a plan to assess the current state of their networked print devices with a view toward developing a customized DRM solution that will benefit their respective organizations. At this point, it is important that the conversations do not deteriorate into a discussion of your specific product and service offerings.
  • Based on the assessment of your product and service portfolio and the needs of your key customers, determine where your organization falls on the continuum of DRM offerings. If your offerings are weak, effort must be expended on strengthening them. Keep in mind that DRM services can be developed and offered using a phased approach; it is not necessary to immediately jump to full-blown DRM services.
  • Once you have consolidated a current array of DRM elements into an aggregated offering that meets the majority of the current requirements for existing customers, develop a compelling customer presentation that articulates the value you offer in this arena. Again, stay away from specific product “pitches,” and couch the discussion in terms of customer values. Keep in mind that DRM strategies enable service organizations to improve their overall productivity, reduce their cost of service and improve operating margins within your organization. Investments in DRM technologies and related processes benefit your organization as much as your customer.
  • Test this presentation with executives in your key accounts, using it as an opportunity to reposition your company as a provider of value-based, rather than commodity-based, services enabled by DRM.
  • Refine the messaging and presentation based on customer feedback, and make it available to your sales force with appropriate training.
  • Incent your sales force to sell your DRM solutions and measure their results. Even if DRM capabilities do not carry an explicit price tag, sales professionals should be measured on their ability to sign customers up. Failure to grow your base of DRM customers reflects a need to offer more in-depth training to your sales force, further refine your messaging, or consider sourcing specialist resources that can expedite market penetration.
  • As you begin to experience success with selling DRM solutions, invest in a strategy to advance your offerings along the DRM continuum, with an end-point vision of offering a total DRM solution. The rapidity of execution of this plan will depend upon customer and organizational readiness to implement, and availability of development and/or implementation resources.
  • Ensure that you keep your market messaging and sales force training aligned with DRM development efforts.
  • Extract additional revenue from DRM customers by adding advanced DRM-enabled services such as automatic replenishment of consumables and periodic assessment of device utilization across the enterprise. 

These ten steps should act as a guideline for a logical and rational implementation plan for providing the DRM capabilities within your organization in serving your core market. Actual execution will vary from supplier to supplier, and customers will have varying needs. The key to success is positioning your selected set of offerings in terms of the value to the customer, and ensuring that your sales force is capable of clearly articulating the value of a DRM enabled service organization closing the sale.

This document has been abstracted from CAP Ventures’ white paper entitled “Software Innovations: From Remote Diagnostic to Device Relationship Management,” which provides analysis on innovations and technology standards for Device Relationship Management solutions as they apply to network connected output devices. Through interviews with vendors, a review of previously published CAP Ventures’ research, and research of vendor and industry Web sites, this white paper discusses how DRM solutions promise more effective management of digital printing devices for the equipment supplier and the equipment user. For more information about this and other CAP Ventures white papers, contact Alison Hipp at ext. 126.



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