New York—Xerox welcomed a couple dozen analysts and press members to its executive briefing center in the heart of the Big Apple on Oct. 10 for the Today’s Smart Workplace Assistant briefing, and it’s safe to say the venerable manufacturer harbors an appetite for the app.
A lynchpin to the value proposition of the 29 ConnectKey enabled AltaLink and VersaLink Workplace Assistants released in early 2017, Xerox is banking on extending the value of the offerings beyond mere MFPs and used the daylong presentations to illustrate how they can be leveraged into greater benefits through software and creative apps that are the driving force.
Following the opening presentation by Tracey Koziol, senior vice president, Workplace Solutions Business Group, attendees were split into several groups that focused on various segments that are key to Xerox’s moving-forward agenda with the Workplace Assistant. First up was Pete Munday, the global experiential solutions marketing manager for Xerox, who delivered a presentation titled “Enabling the Sales Force.” Munday noted that one of the primary challenges is that channel partners have built their business around selling boxes, and one of the keys is to grow awareness of the Workplace Assistant’s capabilities.
An ingredient of the sales force transformation follows the mantra “Find It, Map It, App It,” a theme that would be repeated throughout the morning and afternoon. Find It entails being seen as a trusted advisor. Map It represents the tools to uncover “untamed” processes, and App It is about knowing the solutions for the problem. All of the above are covered by Xerox’s Workplace Assistant Training Program, a two-day course that was rolled out in February and targets 100 percent of the dealer’s sales force.
Elizabeth Fox, vice president of Managed Print Services for SMB, discussed how Xerox was the first company given the authority to operate MPS for the federal government. Uncle Sam, of course, has a legendary reputation for waste, as evidenced by $440 million in needless printing annually, along with an estimated $1.4 billion knowledge worker printing cost…both daunting and perplexing.
Fox noted that Xerox has created a cloud offering that mitigates barriers and will allow government agencies to achieve the benefits of MPS, which was accomplished through an authorization process known as FedRAMP.
She also discussed the Xerox Workplace Cloud, where authenticated users can submit content from any device, location or network, to the cloud. Coming in 2019 is the Virtual Print Management Service, which is available as an on-premise, hybrid or cloud solution.
Helping employees become more productive and to make sense of and streamline the paper trail, with the help of an app, was the theme of the presentation given by Xerox’s Sarah Jones and Mark Boyd. Different office departments have unique needs, from sales to HR to accounting, and Xerox has apps that can act as a connector to some of the most popular software, such as Salesforce, Quickbooks Online (accounting) and Forms Manager (HR).
“We have a community of developers with a fantastic mindset for solving customer problems,” said Boyd, who noted that 400 partners participate in the partner app development program.
Xerox has launched a Quick Link App, a new app gallery that makes it easy to find the apps users are looking for, which includes a channel partner category.
On the education front, Xerox unveiled an app, powered by the Remark Test Grading software, which enables teachers to grade bubble tests, archive and generate new tests, as well as email scores to students, once again removing steps from the process while reducing grading errors. The beauty is that this and other apps fit nicely into education platforms such as PowerSchool, Skyward and Follett, working with some of the most popular software solutions available.
In terms of the higher education space, Xerox is launching Proofreader Service, which enables instructors to grade electronically-submitted essays by providing an editing function for writing elements (spelling, grammar and style). It also features a plagiarism scan that ferrets out possible examples of information being lifted from other sources, while including links to those sources. Another Connect app for Blackboard, Learn, allows professors to easily scan documents into a learning management system.
Xerox Executive Vice President Mike Feldman made a cameo appearance, noting that the company’s A3 sales grew to 28 percent, taking margin away from competitors Ricoh and Canon.
The afternoon portion of the briefing kicked off with a Workplace Assistant panel consisting of Alberto Raymond of EtiQube of Milan, Italy; Josh Justice of Washington, DC-based JustTech; Samer Nasreddine from Document Store of Paris; and Michael Leland of MacAfee, a longtime Xerox partner.
Justice related what apps have done for his business, improving workflows and efficiencies. “A lot of clients are using apps every day, and now we’re moving to phase two with more robust apps,” he said, noting his firm has realized $1.2 million over the last two years from app licensing fees.
Nasreddine spoke about transforming to an app-led sales force. “Moving from the box to solutions is a matter of mindset,” he said. “We’re leveraging it through training. Half of our sales force has been through it. We’re also training for social selling, using social media.”
Lawrence Lee, vice president of incubation and strategy for Xerox’s research and development organization, wrapped up the presentation portion by discussing the quest of positioning Xerox as a technology company again.
All in all, Xerox packed a ton of information into a single afternoon but did a fantastic job of illustrating how its software, app partners and users alike are bringing simple solutions to age-old problems while acting as a conduit to some of the most popular vertical software platforms in their respective industries. These are truly Workplace Assistants that will see an elevation instead of a raise.