According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the third computing platform can be defined as social, mobile, cloud and big data. Smart businesses are therefore already considering ways in which to leverage this third platform, in order to drive increasing business benefits.

By Ronnie Oeschger, divisional director: Xerox indirect channels at Bytes Document Solutions

Printing, like other operations, can also utilise this third platform to improve business benefits. In fact, managed print services (MPS) providers recommend the latest in smart multifunction printers (MFPs) as the best way of accessing the benefits provided by this platform.

By integrating cloud-based applications into these MFPs, companies can expand what the printers can do in the workplace, significantly boosting workplace productivity.

For example, the Xerox ConnectKey-enabled i-Series MFPs are equipped with ready-to-use apps. These speed up paper-dependent business processes and make it easier for users to collaborate and work more effectively.

Apps like these enable users to create one-touch, automated workflows on their mobile devices to remotely control the MFP and transmit documents to fax, email and cloud-hosted services, such as Box, Dropbox and Google Drive.

Other apps can assist users to translate documents into one of more than 35 languages or support features like remote printing from mobile devices. They can even request a call-back from the MPS provider, in the case of a printer problem.

In the end, these apps allow businesses to go beyond printing, scanning, faxing and copying, while at the same time providing channel partners with the tools they need to capture new, recurring revenue streams. This is because these partners can add capabilities to the MFP that fit their customers’ needs, creating customised apps for them that can include vertical-specific apps to assist with workflow.

Successfully leveraging the third platform in this manner is as simple as obtaining the relevant apps to put on your phone, allowing you to remotely control your MFP. This will enable you to create sophisticated workflows with a single touch and craft an ecosystem of productivity for your business that increases efficiencies, rapidly conveys pertinent business information and ultimately enhances the overall user experience.

Moreover, the addition of apps allows for a truly customised and personalised experience, by aligning the multifunction printers to specific business processes. They also help to increase user productivity by simplifying and shortening everyday tasks. In essence, these apps help to make the MFP smarter, and give end-users more accessibility to more technology.

As MFP providers continue to leverage their cloud technologies and build out app galleries with more features, so we can expect to witness an increased number of personalisation capabilities on MFPs, where using such machines becomes increasingly customised toward the individual user.

Apps, after all, are designed to extend the capabilities of MFPs and help companies make the most of their hardware investment. They simplify everyday tasks for enterprises, allowing employees to concentrate on the business-critical aspects of the organisation. Therefore, you should never underestimate the importance of apps, or the benefits they can bring to your organisation.

There are many ways that apps can help you use your MFP to improve productivity. These include by:

•             Allowing you to scan and fax directly from your phone or tablet device and also send documents to cloud storage and print from there as well.

•             Enabling the creation of one-touch workflows between your mobile device, mobile camera or an MFP, making scanning on the go as easy as just a few taps.

•             Ensuring that once you have defined the workflow, you can save it as an app.

•             Permitting you to scan and route documents directly to existing shared network folders, email and the cloud. This means fewer steps, potentially fewer mistakes, and much greater productivity for you and your team.

•             Creating single or multi-page, text-searchable PDFs through optical character recognition (OCR), ensuring that information is never locked in paper documents and is always easy to find.

•             Facilitating the translation of documents into one of 35 different language options.

•             Assisting you to request a call back from the service provider or helpdesk, in the event of a challenge arising with the MFP.