Xerox unveils 29 new products and identifies key growth areas at NYC analyst event.
Even before imaging industry press and analysts arrived in New York City on March 28 for a two-day Xerox event, we knew from the advance hype that this would be the biggest product rollout in Xerox’s 110-year history. “Biggest,” in this instance referred to 29 new products, encompassing 12 A4 devices and 17 A3 workgroup devices.
This announcement represents the next stage of Xerox’s product strategy that began in 2015 when it launched its ConnectKey technology, a platform that extends the capabilities of the MFP beyond the traditional copy, scan, fax, and print functions. Via cloud connectivity, users can now translate documents, share documents, and create electronic documents using the touchscreen of their MFP. As we learned at last year’s Xerox press and analyst event in Rochester, there’s much more to the ConnectKey enabled box than meets the eye. The emphasis now is less on speeds and feeds, but on all these other tasks that can be accomplished at the MFP. Indeed, one of the key take homes from New York last week was that Xerox remains on a mission to enhance the user experience, and it’s doing that with ConnectKey technology, an enhanced tablet-like touch screen interface, and a growing menu of customizable apps.
Meet AltaLink and VersaLink
The new AltaLink and VersaLink lines encompass 12 A4 devices and 17 A3 workgroup devices, both color and monochrome, operating at speeds up to 90 pages per minute. The VersaLink models are designed for small workgroups and distributed teams, and include 19 printers and MFPs. The AltaLink series features 10 MFPs designed for larger workgroups. As expected, all models are ConnectKey capable.
Because each model has a similar touch screen interface (think of the interface on your Smartphone or tablet), and similar features and functionality, Xerox maintains that these devices offer a more consistent user experience which reportedly will make them easier for channel partners to sell while also providing better service margins. All devices are mobile and cloud ready, enabling users to upload and/access documents from cloud platforms such as Dropbox, Office 365 or Google Drive. In addition, mobile workers can print wirelessly from any computing device.
The enhanced interface can be personalized for different work environments and individual users. A lot of thought was put into its design, and based on what we saw in a breakout session, Xerox has made it simpler and faster for users to program specific functions and tasks compared to some of its competitor’s GUI’s. It’s all about fewer screens and easier navigation between screens when programming certain tasks.
In what’s become an app-driven world, applications represent a key component of these new devices. Some apps are off the shelf while others have been created by Xerox’s channel partners to meet specific customer needs. A panel discussion with Xerox channel partners highlighted some of these partner-created apps while underscoring, Xerox’s commitment to encouraging its channel to take a more active role in its R&D efforts because, after all, they’re the ones closest to the customers/end users.
Security has become a major talking point in our industry and Xerox is leveraging its ConnectKey technology to make these devices more secure. According to a Xerox press release, “ConnectKey technology offers protection from unauthorized access to devices; keeps confidential communications and information safe with encryption and image overwrite; audits device access attempts and protects both data and device from malicious intent.”
The AltaLink MFPs have an added layer of security through Xerox’s partnership with McAfee.
These devices also have NFC technology built in so that they are ‘future proof,’ according to Tracey, Koziol, senior VP, workplace solutions business group.
Four Growth Areas
These new products should give Xerox Inc. a boost in the A4 space, one of four growth areas identified by Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson at the outset of the morning’s program. Those four growth areas include production inkjet, Managed Document Services, A4 entry level laser MFPs, and leveraging channel partners to put these offerings in the hands of the SMB market.
“Combined with our strategic transformation [these four growth areas] will enable us to capture more market share and improve the trajectory of our revenue,” stated Jacobson.
With these new introductions, we can talk about the box or we can talk about how Xerox is enhancing the box along with its vision for the future. Between the presentations, panel discussions, and the breakout sessions that offer a deep dive into the products, apps, and new technologies, Xerox does a nice job with these day long press and analyst events. I’m only reporting on a fraction of what was covered during this most recent event. If anything, it’s information overload. I mean that in a good way because who among the press and analyst community hasn’t spent hours at an event only to leave thinking, “What a waste of time.”
This was not.
However, I’m not going to get caught up in all the hype either and rave about how Xerox is well ahead of the technological curve with these introductions, ConnectKey technology, the new interface, and the emphasis on apps. They’re not, but they’re squarely in the mix, and with all the pieces they’ve put in play, well worth watching. Not to belabor the point, you have to appreciate what they’re doing with ConnectKey technology. It is a differentiator for sure although I’d argue it’s not so much revolutionary as it is evolutionary. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s also notable how Xerox’s reseller partners are now involved in designing apps for their customers. Xerox may be a little ahead of the curve in that regard even if they’re not completely alone, and we can expect to see app development extend well beyond the confines of the OEMs and their solutions partners if what Xerox is encouraging its reseller partners to do is any indication.
What we saw and heard in New York City last week underscored the future direction of the new Xerox, and should give notice to the industry that the company is still a significant player in the space. Still, ultimate success, as it always does, will depend on execution by its channel partners and acceptance by the end customer.
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