Dealers Get Their First Glimpse of “The New Xerox”
“Future of Work” Concept and 29 New Devices Introduced at Partner Forum
Xerox Corporation hosted over 200 dealer resellers in New York City at its Future of Work Partner Forum. The goal was to introduce partners to the company’s “Future of Work” concept and announce the largest product launch in company history: 29 new ConnectKey-enabled A3 and A4 printers and MFPs. Xerox executives also reiterated their commitment to the success of channel partners, with a renewed push to help them capture more share in the SMB market.
On the product front, the devices all feature new engines, a new tablet-style user interface, and access to a growing universe of productivity-enhancing downloadable apps via the Xerox App Gallery button on the control panel. The ConnectKey hardware underpinnings and app portal enable the “future of work,” with the MFP at the hub to serve as a smart, connected workplace assistant.
“The New Xerox”
At a similar event held a month earlier for worldwide press and analysts, Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson highlighted the new company structure (the business process outsourcing company, Conduent, was spun off from Xerox on January 1) and how the re-invented Xerox is now free to focus on its core document imaging business. Jacobson stated the mission of the new Xerox is to deliver products and services that are both productive and cost effective, while bridging the gap between the physical and the digital workplace. He also noted that the executive team has worked to “de-layer” the company, removing bureaucratic bottlenecks so the company can be closer to its customers and move faster from innovation to market.
Xerox’s goal is to maintain market leadership in mature markets while shifting into growth markets to increase sales 50 percent by 2020. Jacobson vowed to “change [the company’s] revenue trajectory” by focusing on four key areas: the production inkjet market (and the packaging market in particular), managed document services (with a focus on expanding its reach into SMBs), A4 laser MFPs (with new cloud connectivity, apps, and security), and leveraging channel partners to drive growth (most notably by pushing A4 devices and managed document services into the SMB space).
New VersaLink Series
Designed for small-size businesses and workgroups, the VersaLink series consist of 19 printers and MFP devices that will replace the Phaser family in Xerox’s portfolio. The devices are a mix of both single-function and multifunction as well as color and monochrome engines that employ a common controller and functions. There are twelve A4 and seven A3 engines in the portfolio mix. Product enhancements include support for NFC (Near Field Communication) for tap and print and scan for NFC-enabled mobile tablets and phones.
A tablet-like user interface–supporting swipe, tap and scroll gestures and displayed on either a 5- or 7-inch touchscreen–is incorporated across the entire fleet of products. Designed to be intuitive to master, the UI does away with nested screens and sub-menus in favor of pop-up overlay windows, slider controls and the like to make selections. Xerox’s goal is to eliminate the need to train users on such devices, especially for customers that opt to deploy pre-built “apps” for common functions such as scanning to cloud services. (Note that users accustomed to the traditional Xerox control panel will need to learn the new UI; there is no choice to display the “classic” control panel interface as some OEMs have done when introducing a new UI.)
|The VersaLink and AltaLink MFPs feature an all-new tablet-like control panel.|
According to Xerox, the beauty of the new Versalink printers and MFPs is that they are truly designed for SMBs with limited IT staff. The devices claim to be “plug and play” ready, utilizing an installation wizard that can guide less tech-savvy users through the setup process. The devices are also mobile- and cloud-aware, with built in support for printing from mobile devices and access to Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive via apps on the touchscreen interface.
New AltaLink Series
In addition to the new VersaLink series, Xerox announced its all-new AltaLink product portfolio designed for larger workgroups with more advanced finishing requirements. The new AltaLink family consists of 10 A3 MFP devices (five b/w and five color), each equipped with a 10-inch tablet (swipe-tap-scroll) user interface. The UI is common to that found on the VersaLink family, and Xerox’s goal was to make it easy for users to move among machines in an enterprise without having to learn a different device interface. The new series also offers the same ConnectKey-enabled feature set as the VersaLink line, with mobile and cloud support and access to the Xerox’s growing portfolio of pre-built and customizable apps (see section X below).
Benefits of ConnectKey Technology
According to Xerox, the benefits of the improved ConnectKey technology that underpins the new devices is that it enables an evolution beyond copy/print/scan/fax functionality to make the machines “true workplace assistants” (in Xerox’s words) that are at the center of the workplace transformation and productivity ecosystem. Designed to combine all the technologies and capabilities to let today’s business users work more efficiently and productively, ConnectKey technology is composed of the device controller and UI, security infrastructure (such as the authentication mechanisms and, on some models, McAfee malware-prevention technology), the EIP (Extensible Interface Platform), the company’s open API for the development of custom MFP apps, and related software and services offerings.
Xerox: “All In” on Apps
In addition to the default cloud-connected scanning apps preloaded on the machines, the VersaLink and AltaLink ConnectKey-enabled devices allow customers to download additional apps from the Xerox App Gallery portal directly from the device control panel (a shortcut to launch App Gallery is a default button on the new UI). With the goal of making the devices the hub of a blended physical/digital workplace, Xerox and its developer partners have been adding ready-made apps to the portal; as of the analyst event, 42 apps were available for download–more than double the number available when App Gallery launched in late Spring 2016.
|Accessible from an “app” tile on the MFP control panel, Xerox App Gallery features dozens of productivity-enhancing apps that can be downloaded to the MFP.|
Even with that growing roster of apps, Xerox recognized that the company could not on its own create every solution every customer might need, so it opened app development to its partner community in the hopes of creating an app ecosystem similar to what smartphone manufacturers enjoy. Xerox resellers and independent developers enrolled in the Personalized Application Builder (PAB) program can create specific solutions to end-users “pain points” ranging from document management and workflow automation to security and fleet management. The possible apps are almost limitless. In fact, Xerox demonstrated several partner solutions at the event, including a voice-command Amazon Alexa–based solution, from Fairfield, NJ–based Vision-e, that can order supplies at the request of the customer or put in a service maintenance call. Partners can then license apps they develop not only to customers, but also to other Xerox resellers (hence garnering an incremental revenue stream).
New Workflow Mapping Tools
Xerox’s push into selling solutions instead of “boxes” will fall flat if its dealer community cannot make the switch, too. To that end, Xerox showcased its new Workflow Mapping Tool designed to help their channel partners and direct sales reps understand the workflow process. Designed with help from Keypoint Intelligence, this new software assessment tool provides a simple workflow mapping layout broken out into horizontal and vertical workflows. With the tool and its included templates, resellers can easily construct “before” and “after” graphics to show customers how a particular work process could be improved through the deployment of the right document capture, management and workflow solutions.