Xerox Europe Smart Workplace Assistant Analyst Event 2018

Company Demonstrates Strength and Versatility of ConnectKey Ecosystem

12/11/2018

 

 

In November, the analyst and media community were invited to the Xerox Innovation Centre in Uxbridge, UK, to hear how the company is accelerating workplace digitalization by moving its Workplace Assistant strategy forward. This follows on from the ConnectKey event in April 2017, during which Xerox launched 29 AltaLink and Versalink MFPs, along with ConnectKey 2017, and introduced the Workplace Assistant concept. At this Event, Xerox concentrated on explaining how the Apps Showcase has been further developed, including a centralized eCommerce Platform for transactions and corresponding reseller tools and journeys.

 

Bertrand Cerisier, Vice President of Marketing Technology & Services Offerings, opened the event, and explained how Xerox is accelerating workplace digitalization with its Workplace Assistant (WPA) endeavour. The ConnectKey2017 launch was the start of a technology path intended to make Xerox MFPs the centre of a more productive workplace. The user experience is defined today by consumers of smart and enabled IT and electronic goods, and that is the new benchmark for the office.

 

Since its inception, we have learned that ConnectKey already goes a long way to serving modern office workers’ demands. Xerox’s McAfee and Cisco partnerships allow proactive security to be built in to the ecosystem, and that includes intrusion prevention, device detection, and document and data protection. All ConnectKey devices are cloud-connected and designed for the mobile workforce, while the intuitive user interface is consistent across the device range. Xerox is keen to stress that ConnectKey devices are not just printers but smart devices that can provide meaningful assistance to offices and their workers.

 

True to its promise, Xerox has not stopped there. Over the last 18 months, the user experience has continually improved with new and/or planned features such as:

 

Mobile Single Sign-On (SSO) – mobile devices can provide secure access and authentication functions for the MFP, allowing simple access to any apps or cloud-service connectors that reside on that device.

 

Simplified Setup via Quick Link – instead of device setup via a server or PC, the administrator can complete installation at the device via the Quick Link App.

 

Fleet Orchestrator – an administrator can set one master MFP and copy its settings to other devices on the network using the Fleet Orchestrator tool for automatic fleet management.

 

Xerox Workplace Solution – one or more users are alerted if a print, copy or scan job contains one or more words that are listed on a content security list. This lets organizations take action when a user has copied a document to which they shouldn’t have access, for example.

 

Connect for Concur – scans and interprets multiple expense receipts at the device and inputs into the expense management system.

 

Audio Documents – transforms hardcopy documents into audio files at the MFP.

 

Addressing Vertical Markets

Xerox is keen to address issues facing various vertical market segments, and one such vertical market is education. Xerox claims that over 50 percent of a teacher’s working week is spent on lesson preparation and marking, and that even in the classroom, 20 percent of a lesson is spent on administration. To assist teachers and educators, Xerox has developed a service that reduces an eight-stage manual process into a three-stage process. Teachers can scan an essay into a ConnectKey-enabled MFP or a web portal and have the essay ‘proofread’ to determine the quality of its spelling, grammar, style, and even its originality. Another app, Connect App for Blackboard, lets students and lecturers scan documents directly into the Blackboard learning management system, where they can be accessed and published in the classroom or elsewhere.

 

Other vertical-focused apps include connectors for Quickbooks Online, Concur, and Salesforce.

 

eCommerce Platform

Although few details were available at the time, we heard that Xerox has developed an eCommerce platform which will make the distribution and monetization of apps and solutions easier within its reseller community. The aim is for a common platform that expands and create opportunities for developers and resellers.

 

Enabling the Xerox Salesforce

Mark Boyt, Head of Solutions & Services Marketing, explained how Xerox is employing smarter ways of working for the benefit of both Xerox and its customers. The company has a wealth of knowledge on which it can capitalize, and this knowledge comes from a vast community of developers that includes Xerox’s staff, industry experts, ISVs, and channel partners. Xerox’s goal is to funnel that information so that it can be used effectively.

 

Xerox’s Find It, Map It, App It philosophy seeks to transform salespeople from shifters of beige boxes and software into solutions architects that can identify customers’ business problems and design a solution to solve them.

 

The goal is for sales personnel to be able to find ‘untamed’ processes then map them and fix them via the development of novel workflow apps using an innovative workflow tool. The Find It, Map It, App It process can be applied to many types of business processes to increase productivity and save time and/or money. For example, manual horizontal, vertical, or departmental processes can be streamlined to remove bottlenecks, possibly through automated capture or effective version control. The Workflow tool is one of a number of sales tools with which Xerox is empowering its sales force.

 

Possibly the most notable is the global initiative to retrain all sales personnel—both direct and reseller—via a two-day onsite course. The course trains salespeople to spot business processes in need of improvement, understand the pros and cons of a business’s current workflow, and find the right decision maker to initiate change. Using the Workflow tool, sales personnel will be able to represent visually a summary of the business improvements as well as the money a business will save by adopting the workflow. The Workflow Mapping Tool is available for use on a tablet or a regular PC.

Other sales tools include the Solutions Playbook, which provides sales teams with over 40 use cases they can use to demonstrate how their software can solve customers’ problems. There’s also a library of case study videos, with Xerox aiming to release a video every quarter, while Xerox’s App Finder tool lets customers shop for partner-created apps easily and efficiently.

 

Xerox is equipping sales teams with these tools and skills so that they can spot the problems their customers face and provide them with a holistic, meaningful and financially beneficial solution to their problems.

 

ISV Experiences

Four invited representatives from ISVs that have taken the lead in developing apps and services related their experiences with the ConnectKey ecosystem, explaining how they’ve used it to solve customer problems, support their own print businesses, and, most importantly, profit from it. One such ISV, Just Tech, has created an app that allows users to download and update the firmware of their devices. The app allows only firmware that Just Tech has first tested and deemed to be stable to be downloaded. This protects Just Tech customers and minimizes the chances of a firmware release causing problems with a customer’s device or solutions, which also minimizes the support calls made to Just Tech and increases the likelihood of customer retention.

 

Marcus Putschli, CEO of e-dev, demonstrated his Convert2PDF scanning and workflow app, which lets users choose a workflow and lets them scan documents to a destination with one press. Convert2PDF dovetails with a web-based portal in which administrators can create and modify the workflows that MFP users can access.

 

e-dev’s Convert2PDF app lets users select a specific workflow easily and quickly at a ConnectKey-enabled device.

 

Convert2PDF’s cloud-based Admin portal lets administrators create and manage workflows.

 

Xerox’s Toughest Competition Lies Outside of the Print Industry

Xerox has painted a compelling vision of the MFP as the central hub of the smart, interconnected office. A central hub that provides genuinely useful apps and services that ease or solve dealers’ and customers’ problems. Xerox is also empowering salespeople to look beyond beige boxes and software and determine the manual and/or ineffective business processes that can be modelled with a Xerox solution or an ISV-created app. These are bold moves and are to be commended. However, there are other technologies that are vying for the position of a central hub around which office life turns. The combination of cloud services and mobile devices is one such rival, as is the network-attached storage device, which has grown from a humble fileserver to something resembling a full-featured server and private cloud service provider. In order to prevail, Xerox must look beyond the print industry and range its arsenal against these rival technologies. We look forward to witnessing the next phase of Xerox’s ConnectKey programme.

 

 

 

Andrew Unsworth
Associate Editor
Andrew joined BLI in 2015 with over a decade of print and web publishing experience as both staff and freelancer. His role involves writing solutions, custom test and public lab test reports, as well as web content.