ITEX and ITEX 365 have been exploring the future of the workplace, also known as the “Smart Office”. The Smart Office encompasses similar technology implemented within the “Smart Home”, but rather, in the workplace. Large OEMs are forecasting how different trends and technologies can make the workplace safer, more efficient, and manageable remotely. While some areas of the Smart Office spotlight office technology devices, the Smart Office also covers reseller automation, digital workflow, meetings, and employee collaboration. Below is an interview summary of what Xerox executives say is driving the workplace of the future, written by Keypoint Intelligence’s Christine Dunne.
About a year ago, Xerox changed the name of its A3 and A4 devices from “office products” to “workplace solutions.” This reflected the changing times.
“Xerox was intentional in that change, realizing that today’s workplace is fluid…it could be a home office, it could be in the airport, it could be at a soccer field looking at your kids… a Starbucks,” one executive said, “The company is trying to respond to the dynamic that the workplace is no longer within the confines of an office…it’s everywhere.”
Xerox is looking to cater to this new way of working both through innovations within its core business as well as entering adjacent markets that are more emerging in nature. It has a three-step plan for driving productivity, strengthening its core, and investing continued cash and profit to fuel expansion into new markets. It plans to leverage IP from its three research centers in a three-to-five-year timeline.
Xerox is planning innovations around inkjet technology, workplace solutions software, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things. The company’s recent product launch of 29 Xerox ConnectKey A3 and A4 devices—the largest launch in its history—blended futuristic elements.
The products’ open platform, for instance, lets partners and developers customize the devices for their clients to minimize steps in their workflow and automate steps in their workplace.
Customized apps on MFPs may play a similar role to smartphones in our personal lives. They can help people run various elements of their work life while letting them seamlessly move between the cloud, desktop, and device in a secure way. This way the print device becomes much more than just a copier or printer.
“The company realizes that just as the iPhone and Samsung devices and others have really driven up productivity and become a personal assistant, even using artificial intelligence in our personal lives, 10 years later we’re at the beginning stages of what is possible in the work environment,” one executive said.
When Xerox meets with clients, they no longer care about the speed of the print device or size of the paper tray. Rather, they care about how they can improve collaboration and productivity in their workplace. This is where apps come into play, with partners able to bring the company way past its current 50 or so apps.
Xerox also understands the growing importance of IT security and brought in security expert, Dr. Alissa Johnson about a year and a half ago to strengthen its security offerings as well as speak at industry events. Given the top customer priorities, Xerox is now offering a managed document solutions “essentials” bundle for resellers. The bundle includes apps, software, security, and training in one package.
As mentioned above, Xerox is exploring markets adjacent to document printing like the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Printed electronics and smart labeling are other areas that would align with its IP assets.
As it moves into the future, Xerox is working on strengthening its sales approach. This includes moving SMB clients to its various channel partners, including agents, concessionaires, and Global Imaging Systems allowing its direct sales force to focus more intently on large enterprise clients.
Another strategy for Xerox has been using social media as well as events to communicate its marketing message of “Set the Page Free” – showing the concept to clients and channel partners
Xerox continues to demonstrate its commitment to help bring the industry into the future – realizing there is an opportunity that will benefit its customers, partners, and the company itself.