Partners: Massive Xerox Product Launch Will Drive More Device Refresh, App Adoption

Xerox partners said putting the cutting-edge ConnectKey interface on all 29 of the company's new printing devices will make the portfolio more appealing to customers.

The launch marks the first time ConnectKey will be available on all of the Norwalk, Conn.-based vendor's smaller, tabletop A4 devices as well as single-function printers. Partners said extending ConnectKey to the entire portfolio will provide a greater sense of continuity by ensuring their apps are compatible with any device.

"Xerox has cracked the code on ease of use with this," said John Hand, managing director at Fairfield, N.J.-based Complete Document Solutions. "It's a conversation that doesn't talk about feeds and speeds and dollars, but work processes."

[Related: The Largest Launch Ever: A First Look At Key Features Of Xerox's 29 New Printers]

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Xerox's philosophy had previously been that it sells one machine, and everyone needs to adapt to how that machine works, Hand said. But with a tablet-like interface that can now be customized to meet the specifications of each individual user, Hand said Xerox has brought its devices to the point where they can be managed like other technology in the user's life.

"Even though our user interface is graphical today, it's buttons, not icons," Hand said. "Xerox has leapt a century."

Since everything from Xerox's smallest A4 to its biggest A3 now operate on the same platform, partners no longer have to learn a way to develop apps outside ConnectKey or be restricted by the type of device at a client site.

"If you develop an app, it can go on any machine," he said.

Professional Document Solutions was very pleased to see that Xerox's entire new product line offers seamless cloud storage and the same user interface, said Troy Tafoya, president of the Fort Collins, Colo.-based Xerox partner.

"We have always had a few ConnectKey products but were short in the A4, and with consistency across the line, today Xerox changed that," Tafoya said. "The solutions I will be giving my customers will represent the latest technology and be consistent across every model to meet every need."

Xerox hopes its release of 12 A4 printers and 17 larger, freestanding A3 will allow the company to improve its revenue trajectory starting in 2018, said Kevin Warren, Xerox's chief commercial officer. More specifically, the new product line is geared at growing Xerox's A4 market share – which currently sits at just 6 percent – by one point each year, Warren said.

One of the best decisions Xerox made with its app practice was to go with an open platform so that the vendor wasn't responsible for generating and developing all of its ideas, Warren said. Enlisting channel partners to develop apps has brought innovation directly to the doorstep of clients, according to Darren Cassidy, president of Xerox's United States channel unit.

"They move at a speed we just can't do," Cassidy said. "Their agility is incredible."

Some 180 of Xerox's U.S. and European partners have developed apps so far, Cassidy said, meaning that they're registered on the company's app store and have created at least two apps each. Through a focus on training and workshops, Cassidy said Xerox is looking to double that figure.

"We believe apps are a key differentiator in how we're driving our channel value proposition," Cassidy said.

Apps now account for 10 percent of Just-Tech's revenue, and company president Josh Justice said he hopes to leverage Xerox's new product launch to double or triple the La Plata, Md.-based company's app sales within the next year. Just-Tech's signature app automates manual firmware updates that used to take hours and does them automatically without any prompting by the user, Justice said.

Just-Tech's revenue has grown by 600 percent since the company began focusing on apps and recurring revenue, Justice said, and the company now generates enough money from its app practice to pay for three full-time app developers. The company attempts to introduce a new app each quarter, Justice said.

Just-Tech has licensed apps to some 170 partners around the world, Justice said, who have in turn installed them on more than 20,000 occasions. Roughly 95 percent of those partners turn to the apps during the selling process as a source of competitive differentiation, he said.

"We keep growing and reinvesting more," Justice said. "I'm a global company now because of this program."

Foxway International has secured a foothold in many large accounts thanks to its app development practice, according to CEO Stefan Nilsson, and has ridden that success to 30 percent growth in its overall top line since 2013. The Stockholm, Sweden-based company has morphed into a $100 million behemoth and hopes to establish itself in Latin America and the U.S. later this year, Nilsson said.

Nilsson said the only way print-focused channel partners can differentiate and make themselves sticky is through apps. And Xerox is the only print vendor that makes it possible for solution providers to develop and deliver their own apps in just a few weeks, according to Nilsson.

Cassidy said Xerox is enjoying growth in its A4, managed print services, and small- and midsize business practices. And Wednesday's product launch is only expected to accelerate that progress.

"We know we need to serve the SMB market better," Cassidy said, "and we're doing it with a one-dimensional strategy, and that's channels."