Versatile printer puts enterprise paper management on queue

Making a play for the growing multifunction printer (MFP) device market, Xerox has released a device combining printing, scanning and faxing capabilities with its heritage in copying.

In the enterprise space, the company expects the Xerox WorkCentre 4150 to find appeal with IT managers looking to replace standalone workgroup printers with multifunction devices that bring a range of capabilities closer to the end user.

Ted Schnarr, Canadian field marketing and area director, Xerox Canada, said by bringing these functions closer in one device there’s potential for significant time savings.

“[The enterprise] absolutely has an appetite for functions other than just straight printing, especially scanning,” said Schnarr.

Scanning is a hot area, said Schnarr, with document management becoming an increasing concern for companies forced to deal with increasingly complex compliance requirements. When talking to IT managers, Schnarr said they’ve told Xerox they feel printers should be seen, but not heard.

“They want [printers] to be out there, but they never want to hear from them,” said Schnarr. “The second thing is security, making sure these devices don’t pose any security risk to their network.”

On the security front, Schnarr said Xerox has addressed those concerns through network certification and compliance with a range of certifications, including Common Criteria Certification and NIAP, a U.S. government security standard. And from a management perspective, Schnarr said the focus has been on ease of use for the end user, with tools designed to help the end user solve problems on their own, without IT.

Here, Schnarr said Xerox has an advantage over its competitors because of its copier heritage. While Xerox has built the 4150 from an integrated copier engine with multifunctionality in mind, he said competitors have tried to add other capabilities onto their existing printer engines.

Some of the 4150’s features include print queue management and automatic print around, which bypasses stalled jobs in the print queue to await user intervention while other jobs print. End user ease of use is also improved through more intuitive, bidirectional print drivers, including a graphical user interface accessible from the desktop.

Bradley Hughes, research analyst, hard copy peripherals with IDC Canada, said he thinks Xerox has “hit all the right notes” with the 4150, based on the market trends toward MFP.

“I’m not sure if they’re loosing customers to HP and Lexmark’s printer-based offerings, but instead of worrying about HP coming up to their level and knocking them off, they’re going down to HP’s level to cut them short,” said Hughes.

Hughes said his research shows businesses are starting to wake up to MFPs, particularly when it comes to document archiving. IDC research indicates that, at the end of their current printer lifecycles, 50 per cent of IT managers are planning to upgrade to an MFP device. They may not all have defined needs in mind right now – although he said document scanning is the next big business challenge – but businesses are looking to put a platform in place for the future, he said.

He added, though, that most businesses, particularly at the SMB level, seem to want to keep their faxing capability separate from their printer/copier/scanner, partly for reliability and peace-of-mind reasons. For many smaller businesses fax is a key function, and Hughes said they’re worried about not having faxing if the MFP goes down. “There seems to be a cult of faxing going on; people like a separate fax machine,” said Hughes.

Xerox addressed this concern with the 4150 by including the fax capability in a swappable module, allowing businesses to choose whether or not to buy the fax capability.

Four configurations are available, from a basic copy-only version to a fully networked printer/copier/scanner, all black and white only, and printing to 45 pages per minute.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
As an assistant editor at IT World Canada, Jeff Jedras contributes primarily to CDN and, covering the reseller channel and the small and medium-sized business space.

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