Recently, Canadian investment company Valsoft purchased MPS Monitor, a well-known provider of cloud-based print monitoring and print fleet management. We talked to MPS Monitor CEO Nicola de Blasi about this new development and how it positions MPS Monitor for the future.
What does the sale to Valsoft mean for MPS Monitor?
NDB: For MPS Monitor, this is the best opportunity to scale up, to dramatically increase our global reach, and to compete head-to-head with the largest players. MPS Monitor is a company founded and grown on a strong value proposition of innovation, integration and security, and this has fueled the growth so far, but in the last year we realized that to reach our ultimate goal of bringing this value to all markets and win in all of them, our own resources might not be sufficient. Valsoft has the financial strength, the skills, and a proven methodology to transform a promising and growing niche player into a true market leader.
Valsoft is an investment company – are they looking to acquire more companies? Talk to us a little bit about that.
NBD: Yes, they are. The strategy that Valsoft applies to every vertical is a very repeatable pattern, and it is extremely well executed. They call it a “playbook” for growing SaaS businesses in vertical markets. It involves fueling and accelerating organic growth in some of the acquired companies, but it also involves further acquisitions that can enrich the value proposition of the vertical. Newly acquired companies may bring value from a territory perspective, from an IP and skills perspective, or can be complementary businesses, which maximize the value for customers through integration among different technologies that can better operate together. From my personal point of view, the Valsoft approach of “better buy than build” is quite new, as I have been used to building our value to customers, one brick at a time, with our own resources only. Buying rather than building allows a much shorter time-to-market for increasing the value for customers, and greatly accelerates the growth. Valsoft has executed this strategy already more than 60 times in the last six years, in 20 different verticals, always very successfully.
How are you going to manage your new global role within Valsoft while still managing MPS Monitor as an independent business unit?
NBD: MPS Monitor has a very solid and stable team that has been running the company at full speed and driving the growth for the first nine months of this year when I was almost fully dedicated to the tasks related to the purchase. In that time the company has grown more than 20% year on year despite a very small contribution from me to the daily business operations.
MPS Monitor was not the only recent acquisition by Valsoft in our vertical however. Valsoft also purchased Denmark-based Euroform, which offers RMM and MPS SaaS solutions for the print industry. Now the task at hand is to integrate our two companies, which provide similar products with a very high level of skills, but with different technologies, different methodologies and different geographic reach. The integration plan is targeted at having one combined team working on both platforms in every area: R&D, operations, sales and support. Only finance will remain separate to ensure that every customer and region is addressed locally from an invoicing and payment perspective. My role will be to ensure that this strategy is correctly executed now and in the future, that the same happens every time a new entity is added to the vertical. Of course, this must happen while also ensuring that the entire vertical meets the group’s targets in terms of growth and profitability.
Terms evolve – how would you define managed print services today?
NBD: From a global perspective, I don’t see MPS being so different from what it was 5-7 years ago: the trends are generally similar and the evolution, as it has always been, is faster in some markets and slower in others. Certainly the pandemic and the corresponding WFH trend has put a lot of pressure on the market by increasing the number of devices and reducing the number of pages printed, but even this is more true in some markets than in others, and in general it seems to me that dealers have not fundamentally changed the way they do business and stay profitable — most of them have adjusted, some have given up and sold to others. I notice that in the U.S., there is a growing convergence between MPS and IT services, which is not so present in many European countries. Also, those markets that were already mature seven years ago, like the U.S. and Canada, the U.K., and Germany, still are, even if with some new trends coming. Markets that were growing like western and southern Europe are still growing on the same lines, while Asian markets continue to have a very small share of MPS that is growing, but at a much slower pace than Europe. Many people talk about disruption and dramatic changes ahead of us, but from the dealer’s perspective, I don’t see so much of this coming. Probably the stronger trend that we are seeing, both in dealers and in suppliers like us, is consolidation of players, and we are definitely an example of this.
How do you see the MPS market in the U.S.? What makes it unique? Do you see it as a growth market?
NBD: This is a tough question. I cannot answer for the entire MPS market, including all the possible solutions and services, because I don’t know it so deeply. Regarding our specific space, when talking about SaaS platforms and solutions to provide MPS services, I think that there is a very strong need and demand for innovation, and an emerging awareness of security needs. Customers and providers are realizing that it is no longer possible to run dealerships generating tens of millions of dollars of recurring revenue from many thousands of customers while relying entirely on technologies, platforms and software stacks developed 15-20 years ago that have never really evolved. They are also realizing that installing software components that are not inherently secure by design and independently tested and certified for security on customers’ networks is a risk that no one can afford anymore. So yes, even if it’s a mature market, with dominant players and a challenging environment, I definitely see it as a growing market for companies like MPS Monitor and Euroform, and I think that Valsoft comes at the right time, investing in it and fueling this growth.
Patricia Ames is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.