Xerox Aims to Give Partners More Workflow Control
Xerox aims to make it simpler for managed service providers to customize the application services it makes available to its channel partners. With the release of version 3.0 of Xerox App Studio, partners can now customize an application service to reflect a specific task versus, for example, the brand of the vendor partner that Xerox has made available as part of its ConnectKey cloud service.
Xerox's goal is to get its partners to focus more on workflow opportunities associated with document management, explained Darren Cassidy, newly appointed president of the Xerox Channels Group in the United States. Instead of solely focusing on the multifunction printer (MFP) device itself or the number of pages printed, there is a significant opportunity for solution providers to help customers optimize business processes by reducing the number of steps it takes to complete any given task, he said.
To facilitate that shift, Xerox will increasingly make available to its partners the workflow automation expertise it has in its NewField IT subsidiary, which provides workflow assessment tools and services that partners will be able to leverage to discover workflows inside an organization and ways to optimize them, Cassidy said.
"It's time to change the conversation," Cassidy said. "We're going to provide tools that help partners figure out the right places to attack."
In the meantime, Xerox continues to extend the cloud services it is making available, including a new translation service that can be used to convert documents across 35 languages. By exposing a set of APIs, Xerox is trying to encourage partners to develop workflow applications that invoke these services on the back end. Xerox has 162 partners participating in a Personalized Application Builder (PAB) program that are using those APIs to build custom applications.
One example is Foxway International, a Xerox partner that focuses on workflow applications for the Nordic markets. Foxway International CEO Stefan Nilsson said that by helping companies eliminate steps in a process, the relationship with Foxway International as business partner deepens.
"In some cases, we're giving away freeware because it's an obvious use case or the customer demands it," Nilsson said. "But in other cases, we're adding value by providing more flexibility within a complex business process."
Regardless of the degree of value being added, however, the one thing that is clear to a larger number of Xerox partners is that the MFP is now becoming a means to a much larger workflow management end.
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.