WEBSTER, N.Y. — Xerox is making its 67-year-old photocopy machine technology creation smarter.

The 140,000-employee Norwalk, Conn.-based business services and document technology company today unveiled technology that integrates cloud-based applications into multifunction printers (MFPs) in a bid to boost workplace productivity. MFPs can scan, print, copy and fax documents.

Xerox hosted a day-long briefing at its Gil Hatch Center here yesterday to showcase the new technology. The center is located just 15 miles from the company's Rochester, N.Y. roots — the city where the company was founded in 1906. 

Company officials used the briefing to tout new apps for its 14 Xerox ConnectKey-enabled i-Series MFPs. Those apps include capabilities that allow users to translate a document into dozens of languages and support features like remote printing from mobile devices.

Productive Ecosystem

Jim Rise, senior vice president of the Office Solutions Business Group for Xerox, told CMSWire in an interview yesterday that Xerox is creating an ecosystem of productivity for businesses.

“The steps we’re taking here are key elements in building out that ecosystem,” Rise said. “That’s the differentiating thing about it. It’s not any single attribute. These are apps you put on your phone and remotely control your MFP and create sophisticated workflows with a single touch."

xerox smart app gallery for multifunction printers

Xerox has worked with 162 channel partners inside that app ecosystem for MFPs. One of them, Foxway International, a Xerox application development partner, demonstrated an app yesterday that allows users to search for medical records within an MFP. Foxway integrates its app cloud with the ConnectKey Technology.

And Xerox insists those capabilities are fully HIPAA compliant: The company boasts that it has security covered with built-in real-time protection through secure print and scan encryption, and print job deletion at power up. 

Expanded MFP Capabilities

Xerox also highlighted several enhancements through its new technologies, including:

  • New Xerox Easy Translation Service app, which allows users to scan a document through their MFP, snap a photo from their phone or upload it to a web portal. They can then translate information to more than 35 languages
  • Xerox App Studio 3.0, which allows channel partners to build and tailor MFPs using templates that modify and customize the user interface to synchronize to their business processes (like the Foxway case example)
  • @PrintByXerox App, a mobile cloud printing solution that allows users to print from a mobile or network connected device to an MFP by sending an email with the file needed to print
  • QR Code App that allows users to connect and pair to a ConnectKey-enabled MFP with a scan of a QR code from their phone or tablet for printing or scanning

The Xerox App Gallery is pre-loaded directly on the user interface to give users easy access to a variety of apps from Xerox and partners, Xerox officials said. The apps for the MFPs are available on iOS and Android. Users can also use smartphones to take pictures and route them to relevant departments. 

Gartner: Takes Work

Ken Weilerstein, vice president of Research for Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, told CMSWire the expanding range of MFP-based applications present an opportunity for distributors to increase their per-customer revenues and tighten the relationships with their customers. 

However, although Xerox officials stressed the ease of use of their app gallery and MFP enhancements, Weilerstein said he foresees training as a necessity.

“This will demand more intensive training than the basic equipment and Managed Print Services did,” said Weilerstein, who attended the day-long event. “Xerox will need to equip its people to train the dealers. The dealers will need to train their salespeople.”

Xerox in the Race

So where is Xerox in the industry on this technology?

Keith Kmetz, program vice president of the Imaging, Printing & Document Solutions programs at Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corporation (IDC), has been watching Xerox since he arrived at IDC in 1995. 

Asked if Xerox is ahead of the competition like HP on technology with MFPs, he said that’s a “hard call” to make. Kmetz authored the "IDC MarketScape: U.S. Smart Multifunction Peripheral 2014–2015 Vendor Assessment" that found companies like Lexmark as a leader along with Xerox.

“Everyone’s going after this fast and furious,” Kmetz said. “What I’m seeing is everyone is moving in this direction. Some may have broader or higher-level capabilities than what others have. We talk about the future, and it doesn’t stop here. Xerox’s competition is going after this aggressively as is Xerox. It’s a good move for Xerox and the industry overall.”

The IDC sees the third computing platform as social, mobile, cloud and big data. Xerox, Kmetz said, taps into this “third platform” with its smart MFP platform and ConnectKey Tech.

“What they’re doing is absolutely right,” Keith said. “Xerox has to be relevant in the third platform.”

What’s Next?

Will we soon see Xerox move to a completely digital world without the need for their centuries-old bread-and-butter of print?

"That’s nowhere near on the horizon," Kmetz said.

“We see a maturity in print, there’s no question about that,” Kmetz told CMSWire. “But we’re talking about a market with a $50 to $60 billion value on a global basis. You don’t kill that overnight. In our forecast, we have trillions of pages being produced every year. Even if that continues to decline at the pace it has declined, you still don’t eradicate print anytime in the foreseeable future.”

What’s the future look like from Xerox’s point of view? In his interview with CMSWire, Rise said the company will continue to leverage their cloud technologies and build out its app gallery with more features like translation. He said Xerox is moving toward personalization capabilities on MFPs where using machines becomes more customized toward the individual user.

“The big thing we’re talking about is personalization,” Rise said. “How do we use voice recognition or something else like that? Which apps do you want to use so it becomes your MFP?”

Eventful 2016

It’s been an interesting start to 2016 for Xerox. The company in January announced it will split into two companies by the end of the year. The split effectively takes Affiliated Computer Services — which it bought for $6 billion in 2009 — out of the company.

The restructuring divides Xerox into an $11-billion, 40,000-employee document technology company that will include its printer and imaging businesses and a $7-billion, 104,000-employee business process outsourcing company.

Company officials in Xerox’s 2014 annual report announced about a $500 million drop in revenue from the prior year ($20 billion to $19.5 billion).