In what the Norwalk, Conn.-based document imaging vendor calls the largest product launch in its 110-year history, Xerox Corp. today introduced a whopping 29 conventional and multifunction printers for SMBs and larger businesses.
The new devices dramatically expand the company’s ConnectKey portfolio of intelligent, workflow-enabled office systems, and establish a beachhead for Xerox, which has long been a leader in A3 products, in the A4 market as well.
“It’s a huge opportunity to make sure [customers] have the right product for the right environment,” said Mike Feldman, president of North America operations for Xerox, in an interview with ChannelPro.
The new devices showcased today fall into two closely related groups. Designed for small and midsize workgroups, the VersaLink family includes 19 printers and MFPs in both A3 and A4 formats. The AltaLink family contains 10 color and monochrome A3 MFPs for midsize to large workgroups.
Scheduled to ship during the second quarter of this year, both product lines share a similar touchscreen interface that Xerox partners can customize for a specific client’s needs, as well as the ability to export documents directly into Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365, Google Drive, and other popular cloud-based file repositories. Built-in security technology encrypts sensitive information, guards against unauthorized access, and maintains audit records of access attempts.
Most significantly of all, however, products in both the VersaLink and AltaLink families can run sophisticated, industry- and company-specific workflows using software in the Xerox App Gallery, an iTunes-like app directory and storefront containing off-the-shelf solutions from Box, Cisco, and other software makers as well as custom-coded apps created by channel partners.
That feature is a game changer, according to John Hand, chairman and co-founder of Fairfield, N.J.-based Xerox dealer Complete Document Solutions LLC (CDS). In the past, companies like his had little choice when clients required specialized functionality but to bring a third-party vendor with roughly appropriate software into the deal or ask Xerox to develop the needed functionality and then wait for a response. Now CDS can create a solution itself in a matter of days.
“This platform, and this product line, will allow a dealer to be able to go out and do what he does best, which is be creative in front of a customer from a technology standpoint,” Hand says. “It takes the handcuffs off.”
It also, he continues, allows partners to enhance their “stickiness” with clients and compete more effectively for customers evaluating products from rival device vendors like Canon and Ricoh.
“If they give the same opportunity to all three, I think we’re going to come back faster with a solution,” Hand says. Better yet, he adds, partners can then resell that solution to other clients with similar business challenges.
“It’s a much bigger opportunity than the one [sale], even though that’s what you focus on when you start,” Hand says.
Xerox notes that dealers can earn monthly recurring revenue from VersaLink and AltaLink deals as well by including managed print services (MPS). All of the new systems unveiled today are optimized for use with Xerox’s managed print portfolio.
“They’re great for managed print,” says Feldman of the new products, “because our tools can see these devices, can do remote management, can read the toner levels of them, and automatically dispatch toner.”
The new systems also include remote management capabilities unavailable in earlier Xerox offerings that let technicians turn devices off, upgrade their firmware, flash the BIOS, and more. Hand sees that functionality as one of several ways VersaLink and AltaLink products will help him build deeper relationships with customers and extend those relationships into new areas.
“This device to me, at a device level, is the onramp,” he says. “We’re going to sell them a device that takes us through MPS, that takes us through IT services, [and] that takes us through workflow and process.”
For Xerox itself, the barrage of new products announced today is an important step in an ongoing campaign initiated some 4 months ago to grab a greater share of SMB imaging outlays in the U.S. According to Feldman, Xerox currently owns about 20 percent of that $14 billion market.
“20 percent is good,” he says. “We’d love to get that to 30 percent or even 40 percent. In order to do that, we need more channel partners leading with Xerox.”
As a result, Feldman’s organization is actively recruiting new SMB partners at present.
“We are looking to expand our channel presence,” he says.
This article was originally posted on sister publication ChannelPro Network.