Instant Analysis: What the ECi PrintFleet Acquisition Means to Your Dealership
04 January 2018 | NORM MCCONKEY
Big news. There is now one less remote monitoring software in the industry today.
Are you a PrintFleet, FM Audit, ECi, e-automate or Print Audit customer? This acquisition has large implications for the industry. As a founding member of PrintFleet and former CEO, I know this part of the imaging industry well. Here’s what this acquisition could mean to our industry and your business:
- If you are an FM Audit/ ECi customer, this acqusition likely means little to you, except for a possible price increase. PrintFleet and FM Audit are the two biggest remote monitoring systems (RMS) in the industry. It only makes sense that in the absence of a competitor, your prices may increase. You do not have as many options to switch to anymore.
- If you are a PrintFleet customer, sit down. Of course, your costs will increase. The model of ECi is to acquire companies and technologies that are mature, stable, and have high switching costs. Your costs could possibly double in the next 12 months. On the upside, before this acquisition a major concern for PrintFleet customers was that ECi would shut down the ability to interface with PrintFleet, and force you to switch. That will not happen now. Longer term? Despite what is written, there will likely be only one RMS platform. Look around for competitors of e-automate. Lacrosse and OMD are no longer options. It may take a year or two, but it is likely that this is the long-term vision.
- Do you use a competitor solution like Print Audit? For now, this looks like a status quo situation. Print Audit could also consider increasing their prices, as one of their competitors is now not really an option to switch to. But, longer term, ECi could flex its muscle and make life more difficult for Print Audit customers that use e-automate, by making integration a challenge.
Overall, this acquisition creates a near-monopoly among RMS installations. I would now estimate about 75% of all remotely monitored devices flow through ECi. All monopolies have the same effect:
- Increase prices
- Reduce innovation
- Squeeze out competitors
What Would I Do As A Dealer?
If your business plan is to move your dealership from a focus on printing to offering Managed IT Services, then this acquisition should expedite that project. Why wait for costs to increase? Products like FORZA, Tigerpaw, Connectwise, and Miracle Service could be worth exploring.Otherwise, be prepared for your RMS system and back office software to take a larger share of your wallet/profit. There is a benefit about having one vendor that connects your RMS, accounting, and even your website under one roof. If you have been happy with the level of service, and financial value of products you source from ECi, then the PrintFleet acquisition is good news for you…