Xerox makes its case to the digital workforce

NEW YORK – Xerox has been promoting the release of its VersaLink and AltaLink line of MFPs as its biggest announcement in 110 years. Xerox has been in operation for 110 years in case you were wondering.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based company that officially separated at the beginning of the year is positioning VersaLink and AltaLink as intelligent, connected workplace assistants as opposed to multi-function printers. The two lines consist of 29 products that can, through the expertise of channel partners, develop personalize workflows with one-touch access to the cloud, which includes multi-layered security provided by McAfee specifically for the AltaLink line.

One example Xerox presented was of a hat shop using the VersaLink MFP with a 10-inch tablet display to produce a new advertising campaign sent remotely via WiFi Direct to be printed and shared with their target markets. Also, a solution provider developed a solution featuring Amazon Alexa with the VersaLink and AltaLink so that users can verbally demand the MFP to produce five copies or order some toner. But the Alexa app informs the user not to bother because toner levels are OK.

Xerox has also made the smart, connected workplace assistant available on all 29 machines through the touch-enabled tablet screen no matter the cost. The entry-level price for a VersaLink is $700.

The underlining strategy of the Xerox VersaLink and AltaLink is to connect the physical and digital worlds easily. Another example is automating the process for a physically printed page to be transmitted online in 35 different languages to seven continents.

“We are helping to set the page free,” said Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson.

Evan Hardie, hardcopy peripherals research manager at IDC Canada, said this launch of 29 devices that share a similar customizable interface will help strengthen Xerox’s Canadian share position overall and most definitely in the A4 market.

“The ability for dealers to create custom apps and workflows for their customers is an exciting addition that will help to create stickiness with their clients,” Hardie said.

At the heart of the VersaLink and AltaLink is the ConnectKey technology that transform the MFP into a smart workplace assistant. ConnectKey helps users connect to any other ConnectKey-enabled devices.

ConnectKey has been upgraded to include a new user interface that is mobile and cloud ready. It has increased security and can be used as a gateway to new possibilities for customizing apps and solutions through channel partners. “This is how we are different,” said Tracey Koziol, Xerox, senior vice president of workplace solutions.

The new machines will have an app store called the App Gallery and comes with Google Drive, Box and DropBox along with management through Office 365.

The potential is with channel partners helping to extend the market reach for Xerox specifically in the SMB, Koziol said.

In addition to working in a wired fashion or through WiFi or WiFi Direct and cloud, Xerox has future proofed these 29 systems with NFC. So, when an organization moves pass key card authentication they can transition to NFC on an Android smartphone.

Xerox VP of global marketing for its workplace solutions group, Bertrand Cerisier, told CDN the 3rd platform trend of cloud, big data, mobile and social business is simplifying the business process and customers are now ready to automate the way they work.

“Today’s MFP is a printer. That is what it is. Print form a laptop or walk up and print. It is a peripheral, but moving forward the MFP will be the heart of the business operation. It should be a means to access to workflows. This means more connected systems because today they do not talk to each other. Manual paper based systems do not talk to the accounting team. We need to bridge these two worlds,” Cerisier said.

The challenge for Xerox is to automate the workflow, but Cerisier said this cannot happen without everyone getting access. This is where the channel comes in and Xerox is hoping solution providers can drive the message to bring workflow automation to the masses.

Cerisier told CDN that the company is considering expanding beyond current Xerox reseller partner to other solution provider who do not do MPS and ISVs.

They have created the Personal Application Builder program that enabled channel partners and ISV to get an SDK to build customizable or personal apps for customers.

One Xerox channel partner Joshua Justice of Just Tech, has realized a 20 per cent revenue enhancement to his business now that he can develop purpose-build apps for the Xerox MFP line with ConnectKey technology.

JustTech also resells Xerox hardware along with offering managed print services. In two years developing apps for Xerox ConnectKey his revenue breakdown now consists of 40 per cent equipment sales, 40 per cent MPS and 20 per cent app development. Justice has also started licensing his apps to other channel partners. Since the only cost associated with app development is paying for programming its become his most profitable area of business.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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