Canon Wants to Strike a Balance between Employees’ and the Enterprise’s Needs
Hardware and Information Management Highlighted during Recent Call
During a conference call with industry analysts, Canon officials introduced the 5500 series, the latest addition to the company’s imageRUNNER ADVANCE line. Other announcements included the release of uniFLOW Online—a hosted version of the award winning device management platform—and Therefore 2016.
Citing “consumerization”—the impact that consumer-originated technologies can have on enterprises—Tom O’Neill, Director Product Marketing, ESD, Canon U.S.A., Inc., explained how there is a conflict between employees who “want their technology their way” and the enterprise that “needs overall productivity, standardization, control, and security.”
“People believe that because their personal technology continues to evolve, so will the technology they use in the office,” said O'Neill, who along with the rest of the folks at Canon believe they can bridge this divide. “The old way of doing things put technology at the center. Settings belong to the device or the system, and all users needed to abide by those settings.” But this is 2016, and there is a new way of doing things. “Now, the user is the center.”
New Hardware for a New Way
The imageRUNNER ADVANCE C5500 series absorbs advanced features and functionality that would otherwise be sold separately. With solutions like Universal Login Manager and MyADVANCE included, organizations can give their employees the personalization and convenience they want without having to sacrifice security or relinquishing control over print settings.
The latest machines also address the BYOD boom. “To accommodate the modern office, we made sure that mobile workflows would be supported,” said Kristen Goldberg, Senior Manager of Product Marketing. “A variety of software and MEAP-based solutions are available for printing from mobile devices and cloud-services. The series delivers incredible value for SMBs and enterprise workgroups, and offers exceptional image quality and a fast color speed, all in a compact footprint.”
Firmware: Welcome to the Center, Users
At home, users are able to customize everything from UIs to settings on their personal devices to their liking. In many offices, however, users have to conform to a single standard, which might not be the best fit for each person. But O’Neill explained that with Canon’s latest iteration of its imageRUNNER ADVANCE firmware, which supports a slew of integrated solutions, the MFP will start to feel more like a smartphone or tablet.
Goldberg explained how users can personalize the control panel’s UI to see what they want to see—such as adding widgets for commonly used functionality or customizing display menus—on the latest imageRUNNER ADVANCE devices, and these changes are saved and will follow users when they authenticate at a compatible device. Goldberg also mentioned other convenience adding features, including access to a user’s personal address book from the device’s control panel for easy file sharing and the ability for users to easily send documents to themselves.
But the firmware doesn’t just make end users’ lives easier. “Version 3.3 is built on a common source code and therefore, all 3.3-devices are able to support new integrated solutions,” said O’Neill. “It protects investments and allows users to upgrade without have to make yet another costly hardware investment.”
To the Cloud!
“Not long ago, if a company wanted accounting and reporting, device locking and authentication, pull printing, and secure mobile printing functionality, they’d need to purchase, deploy, and maintain multiple platforms, usually across multiple servers,” said O’Neill. A few years ago, Canon saw this problem and developed uniFLOW, an award winning solution that can handle all of these chores, plus more, merging these disparate platforms into one holistic solution.
For all its power, uniFLOW does come with a few caveats—namely that it can only be deployed on-premises, which is unattractive to customers who don’t have the IT infrastructure to support such a solution or the desire to make a top-heavy investment that includes purchasing, deploying, and maintaining additional servers.
To combat these concerns, Canon developed a cloud-based version dubbed uniFLOW Online. According to Goldberg, anyone can now harness the power of uniFLOW to control print costs and device access, individualize user experience, secure print content, and increase individual employee productivity—with little to no IT support.
The solution addresses the concerns of security weary decision makers that resist migrating systems to the cloud, too. According to O’Neill, users can execute print jobs through the cloud, but print content never leaves the customer’s firewall (only log, configuration, and other information of that sort leaves the network).
“uniFLOW online will benefit any SMB with smaller imageRUNNER ADVANCE fleets,” said Goldberg. She also noted that while not a limit, customers looking to deploy the system for more than 100 users might be better off with the on-premises version.
imageRUNNER ADVANCE, Meet Google Drive
Canon will also welcome Advance Cloud Portal 2.0 to the third generation of imageRUNNER ADVANCE. With this nifty connector, users can scan to and print from Google Drive, as well as scan to Box, Evernote, Dropbox, and OneDrive, directly from a supported device’s control panel. Look for Canon to continue to expand on this application to support more cloud-services in the future.
Information Management for the 21st Century
Building on its robust information management system, Canon will release Therefore 2016 this month. The solution delivers a feature set that enables businesses to capture, process, and share both paper and electronic documents, or incorporate them into automated workflows. Other notable features include a business intelligence engine for gathering report data from workflows and other important assets to make critical business decisions.
O’Neill said that the latest version brings a customized and personal approach with a familiar look and feel of the 2015 iteration. Notably, the solution builds upon its business intelligence engine by offering integration with Microsoft PowerBI for enhanced analytical capabilities and a real-time interactive dashboard. Therefore 2016 also replaces paper signatures with e-signatures for faster workflows and approval steps thanks to integration with DocuSign, a digital transaction management provider. According to O’Neill, Canon plans to expand that integration with more providers.