Cloud technologies are growing in popularity — especially among the SMB crowd — for their flexibility, on-demand accessibility, and lower cost relative to their on-premises counterparts. According to The small business revolution: trends in SMB cloud adoption, a study conducted by the application marketplace developer BCGS, “new applications are continually coming to the market and technological developments are steadily improving connectivity, which means we’re likely to see business using more applications at every stage of their lifecycle.” 

The study shows that the revolution is well underway. Sixty-four percent of respondents are already using an average of three cloud-based applications; BCGS expects the average to rise to seven by 2017. The report also shows that 88 percent of respondents expect to be using at least one cloud app in the next two to three years.

As with any other emerging technology, the maturing process comes with its fair share of growing pains. In the case of the cloud, it’s an unfriendly relationship with paper that hinders the optimizing effects afforded by web applications. This leaves cloud-adopters scratching their head, trying to crack the case of “how do I get this information out of paper and into my critical systems in an efficient manner without spending even more money?” 

While the BCSG report finds a high and growing adoption rate for cloud solutions in the SMB market, Xerox’s own study, 2017 Office Productivity Trends to Improve the Bottom Line, found that 72 percent of SMB respondents report having no workflow automation in place or are in the early stages of placing a workflow automation solution. In other words, the best some businesses can do right now is dump documents into a common cloud repository. As customers become more reliant on these increasingly complicated web-applications, their document imaging needs may require some more sophistication of its own. 

Xerox Has the Fix

Your office MFP is much more powerful than the computers NASA used to put men on the moon. That doesn’t mean it’ll blast off into orbit (as cool as that would be), but when equipped with the right software, it can send your documents to the lower level of the atmosphere — figuratively speaking, of course.

Xerox devices have been cloud connected since early 2013 when the company released its ConnectKey technology, so scanning to the cloud is no new trick. But to keep up with current trends, the company introduced upgrades to their scan-to-cloud portfolio: Xerox Web Capture Service and Productivity Packs for ConnectKey, plus a collection of industry applications, use cases, and sale strategies that make up the Xerox Partner Solutions Playbook 2.0 to help dealers provide the best possible service as possible.

Xerox Web Capture Service

Xerox’s Web Capture Service leverages web browsers and any scanner to deliver seamless scan-to-cloud capabilities. Users install the Xerox Web Capture Service browser extension to their preferred browser. Web Capture Service is device agnostic — a rare quality for similar solutions — and automatically discovers all available local and networked scanners. The solution offers an interesting feature, “Follow-me scanning,” which enables users to capture documents from one device and process them at another. For example, a scan operator can capture a batch of contracts at the office, then access those documents for additional processing later from their home computer. Businesses can leverage Web Capture Service against their ConnectKey-enabled MFPs to scan directly to a user’s personal cloud account for immediate access directly from the device’s control panel.

Productivity Packs for ConnectKey

Aimed at the education, healthcare and finance verticals, as well as for general office use, Xerox’s Productivity Packs for ConnectKey are canned MFP-embedded applications for eliminating manual, time-consuming, and error-prone tasks. The applications are tailed to meet the specific needs dictated by vertical market. 

Partner Solutions Playbook 2.0

Xerox also rolled out its updated “Partner Solutions Playbook”, adding a collection of 18 new industry applications, use cases, and sales strategies to its existing interactive library of customer scenarios. The guide is only available for Xerox Channel Partners, and is meant to help accelerate the sales cycle for Xerox’s application builder tools, MPS, and ConnectKey MFPs.

Our Take

Paper usage continues to drop and interest in replacing paper-based processes are on the rise. While this seems problematic for copier dealers, Xerox seems to see it as a challenge, not a problem. In developing these tools for dealers, they are helping make up for lost revenues related to decreased paper usage by selling services that help customers achieve a paper-free, automated operation.  

Overall, the applications aren’t anything too complicated and are more of an introductory-level means of automation. But as business process automation is still in its early years — in this industry anyway — businesses have to walk before they crawl. And this package of solutions makes for a perfect start for businesses trying to break through to the age of automation.  

Patricia Ames
Patricia Ames

is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at patricia@bpomedia.com.