With the release of every new generation of intelligent multi-function printers, the devices become less like copiers and more like the computers they actually are. Take apps, for instance. We use them all the time on phones and tablets. Now innovation brings more apps into the world of MFP devices, documents and workflow. Lots more. “Currently, the MFP-embedded app market is diversifying by taking on more specialized tasks” notes BPO Media senior analyst, Patricia Ames in this article.

Next-gen device vendors have introduced apps to MFPs in ways that reflect how we like to work for convenience, and how we need to work to be successful. Now apps can be embedded in or downloaded to devices for purposes as diverse as:

  • Productivity apps to share patient information
  • Scan apps for simplified scanning to email
  • Cloud connector apps for printing from and scanning right to Dropbox or Google Drive
  • Converting paper documents to image, PDF, searchable PDF, Word or Excel files
  • Translating scanned documents into one of over 35 languages
  • Device management apps
  • Even apps to manage your apps

Digital Transformation: Yes, You Can

MFP-embedded applications reflect vendors’ response to the digital workplace, and it’s a good fit. An app-centric, solutions-enabled device environment contributes to your digital transformation by making it easier to use devices as part of digital workflows to cloud and other platforms and applications. Again, from Patricia Ames, “Building on a foundation of integration and extensibility, the latest apps are interfacing with email, cloud services, ECM platforms, workflow solutions, and line-of-business applications, and other key systems utilized by many businesses to help optimize processes.”

Apps also give you and your vendors the means to easily customize and optimize your device investments to squeeze every last bit of value out of them. The impact on productivity quickly accumulates with every user and every app, every workday. App automation reduces risk of human error, and avoided risk has its own value.

App-style Interfaces: No Going Back

Some newly released printers and multi-function devices feature a user interface that behaves more like a mobile device with gesture-based interaction. To further simplify the interface, some vendors have made the most frequently used features available on the first screen up for common functions like printing and scanning.

People like a good device interface, but that goal can be a moving target. Working within an app-based environment gives you agility and makes it possible to extend the relevancy and use of your fleet technology. It coaxes longer, useful life out of your investment.

Make Smart Apps Part of the Team

Sometimes intelligent multifunction devices come preloaded with standard apps that can be customized to your workflow. Preloaded apps optimize office efficiency by taking on more of the things technology was meant to do. Apps like Quick Scan to Email, Scan to/Print from DropBox and Scan to/Print from Office 365 become welcome parts of the daily routine, and many employees can take advantage of these workflow enhancements.

There will quickly come a time when someone wants to download a new app to the device from the MPS provider’s app gallery, and this should be easy. With the touch of a button, users would download lightweight, serverless apps to a multifunction printer to increase user productivity and shorten everyday tasks.

The new standard is to empower users to expand device functionality simply by adding capabilities from an app gallery. This convenience lets you improve how you work today and easily adapt to an unknown future.

Some Things to Look For

If you haven’t tried the smart-apps-and-MFP combination, you should. The first step is to speak to your MPS provider. Some things to talk about include:

Scan to app – One easily located spot on a touchscreen UI for access to all scan destinations and features.

Translation service – This where the future hits the road. Through an app, someone scans a document and receives a translated print and email notification. You can also forward a digital image from both iOS and Android mobile devices or PCs for translation.

Simple identification – Employees speed through tasks by saving common settings as presets for simple, single-touch job set-up. Individuals or groups enter a user ID and password once, and then get fast, secure access to task-specific presets and commonly used apps on a personalized home screen.

Customizable, capacitive color touchscreens – Employees go right to the tools they need to get work done.

That MFP device isn’t just for paper anymore. It’s not just about copies, prints or heaven forbid, faxing! It’s about making documents safe, users productive and workflow efficient. The app environments on some of the latest industry MFPs takes a giant leap in that direction.