Adapt to a mobile workforce with a smart Multifunction device

With technology developing rapidly, organisations have to decide how to best combine paper and digital workflows to maximise productivity.

Employees now have the flexibility of working in the office or remotely, anywhere in the world. The introduction of ‘Bring your own device’ policies also allows employees to use their tablets and smartphones to access server data or print.

To ensure continued high productivity, organisations need to be capable of creating a highly adaptable, reliable and secure print infrastructure – a smart multifunction printer can provide the hardware necessary to make this possible.

The smart multifunction printer

Smart multifunction printers provide an integral business process feature by combining a variety of digital and paper-based features into one central document device.

You can scan to the cloud, print from your mobile or use built-in software to synchronise payment or HR software with invoices or application forms.

This allows users to reduce their reliance on expensive paper-based processes, moving towards digital formats, reducing the opportunities for lost files and error.

The majority of printing firms now offer smart MFP devices, including Xerox, Canon, Dell, HP, Konica, Lexmark and Ricoh.

Examples include Xerox’s WorkCentre 7220, which comes complete with ConnectKey controller technology.

Cloud enabled

Software like Xerox’s Connectkey software allows you to scan a document and distribute it to a cloud solution of your choice, transforming a paper copy into a shareable digital format, which can be accessed anywhere in the world, from a digital device.

You can also scan can documents to multiple destinations, like your email, fax or network, saving you time from having to manually attach files.

Look out for an MFP that connect to the most popular cloud services like Google Docs/Drive, Evernote, SharePoint Online, Dropbox, and Office 365. Just be sure that you control how information is copied to the cloud, you don’t want your staff copying intellectual property to their personal cloud services.

Create editable, searchable digital formats

One of the most impressive features with smart printers is the ability to convert paper documents into editable digital documents and text-searchable PDFs, through your scanner, via Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

This means you can do away with filing cabinets and files, storing everything digitally instead, saving you a huge amount of money in paper and spatial costs.

Integrated software

MFP’s allow you to connect and route documents across existing content management software, providing a highly efficient business process function.

For example, you can scan an expense receipt and automatically route the information to accounting for approval. You can also scan HR documentation, like written application forms, inputting all the relevant details into one central database, reducing the time taken to sort and file.

Look for a solution which allows the customisation of workflow icons to be created on the MFP panel, making it easy to route documents to the relevant enterprise application.

Print from mobile or tablet

Most Smart MFPs enable mobile workers to print directly from their mobile device through authentication to the network using either a user ID/password or ID card authorisation, allowing you to print wirelessly from the train, back to your office printer.  

Look for an MFP that is compatible with AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and third party solutions such as Cortado and EFI PrintMe Mobile. The majority of manufacturers will have their own remote-friendly printing apps, like Xerox Mobile Print or LexPrint.


Mobile printing means that firms need to develop security processes to deal with external devices when connecting to their network. It’s good to make sure that your printer includes embedded security from someone like McAfee.

Look for hardcopy security, which ensures that documents are only released to authorised users, and hard disk security like hard disk drive encryption and data overwrite security. All your output should be tracked and monitored through comprehensive reporting tools for auditing purposes.

This post was written by First Choice, who provide managed print service solutions and stock a range of innovative multifunction devices.


Five top iPhone printing apps

If you’re looking to take a few snaps on your iPhone or have an important report to print on-the-go, there are a variety of applications which allow you to get the job done on your Apple smartphone:

Xerox Mobile Print

The Xerox Mobile Print Portal allows smartphone and tablet users to print to Xerox and non-Xerox printers; whether it’s MS Office documents, Adobe Acrobat, web pages, email, images and more.  You can use GPS to find available printers, while adding printers easily by scanning the specific QR code.


Print n Share

Print n Share allows you to print documents, PDF files and photos from an in-built camera feature, supporting Google Docs, iCloud,, Dropbox and more. There’s plenty of handy features and an easy-to-use interface makes this one of the best apps out there. You can also print using 3G and it's really high-performing on PDF conversions too.

Apple AirPrint

AirPrint is an Apple technology that lets you print without the need to download or install drivers. AirPrint is built in to many printers from most popular manufacturers. Just select an AirPrint printer on your local network and select print. It’s free and easy to use, but doesn’t offer as many features as Xerox Mobile Print or Print n Share.

e-Print Free

e-Print Free is a highly versatile iPhone app, allowing you to print photos directly to a Wi-Fi printer without a listener application or print server. You can choose from a variety of quality, size, paper type and tray options, but can only print one copy in one format at a time – the version with extra capabilities also comes at a small charge.


ezShare is a versatile file management iPhone app that allows you to log-in and access documents from WebDAV and cloud-based servers, as well as folders shared on a local network. ezShare will print most documents but won’t let you print photos or Web pages. At £10.99 it’s expensive, but is much more than just a printing app.


Adobe adds 3D printing capability to Photoshop

Adobe has entered the 3D printing market by adding features to Photoshop, as part of a major upgrade to Adobe Creative Cloud.

The new 3D printing capability, which will be made available immediately to subscribers of Photoshop CC, allows users to develop, refine, preview and print designs in 3D directly from Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop CC supports the most popular desktop 3D printers, including MakerBot Replicator; if you don’t have your own printer you can also send your designs to, where they can be printed in a range of materials like ceramics, metals and sandstone.

Adobe have added an element of automatic file correction to allow designs to be created or refined in 3D, with software ensuring that the end result is completely printable: 

"3D models often have errors that prevent you from printing or result in a pile of spaghetti. We've removed the complexity of the process - all you need to do is select the desired printer and material and click print,” said Stephen Nielson, Photoshop product manager at Adobe.

"Photoshop automatically corrects watertightness issues and builds a scaffold to prevent the model collapsing while printing - so you get a successful print everytime."

Veronica de la Rosa, from 3D printing specialist Fathom, said: "Using Photoshop CC, the new 3D printing features reduce file troubleshooting and ensure that our clients' 3D models are accurately represented before final printing."

New features in Adobe Illustrator CC and InDesign CC include integration with the Adobe Typekit font library, which automatically searches for missing fonts to help to reduce errors.

3D printing is becoming so popular that even Italian pasta manufacturer, Barilla, is working on a project with applied scientific research firm, TNO, to develop new pasta shapes using the technology:

"Suppose it's your 25th wedding anniversary, you go out for dinner and surprise your wife with pasta in the shape of a rose," said Kjeld van Bommel, project leader at TNO.

The aim of the project is to allow consumers the opportunity to buy cartridges of dough, which they can insert into a 3D printer and create their own pasta designs from home.

Last year an American firm made the world's first metal 3D-printed handgun, capable of firing 50 rounds accurately without breaking, and scientists at Cornell University produced a prosthetic human ear.



Xerox aligns remote printing app with MPS

Xerox has added managed service features to its Mobile Print app to allow users to reduce the costs of remote printing.

The app will now easily incorporate existing managed print service features, allowing users to print documents at remote locations from PCs or mobile devices, but have the cost and volume of printing monitored by administrators.

These features are part of Xerox’s “next-generation managed printing services strategy,” said Mike Feldman, president of Large Enterprise Operations at Xerox. This strategy revolves around improving print security, reducing costs and better infrastructure resource utilisation.

Feldman says the app will allow businesses to track, report and manage documents printed by public locations like postal outlets; this will allow firms to better negotiate external printing costs as they will be easier to quantify and report.

Xerox is building more and more managed print service features into its mobile print strategy to give firms more cloud printing flexibility, including further audit and security functionality.

This includes the ability to securely print from SD cards or use maps to locate authorised printers globally. System administrators will also be able to track the type of document being printed and enable secure printing. Xerox will now rival Hewlett-Packard and Google for advanced remote printing services.

Xerox will also offer “production assessment services”, allowing users to analyse paper volumes and types of equipment being used, with recommendations on how to cut costs and improve utilisation of printers and copiers.

Customers can also check infrastructure to make sure it meets specified security standards in the managed print service infrastructure, with a feature to automatically send alerts to review passwords changes on devices every 90 days.

For a broad range of Xerox printers with remote printing software and capability, visit First Choice.


Paperless NHS could save lives, says Health Minister

A digital and paperless NHS could save lives, according to health minister, Dr Daniel Poulter. The Government has made a commitment to creating a paperless NHS by 2018, with the aim of achieving cost savings of £4.4bn a year.

By March 2015, it is hoped that all patients in the UK will be able to log-in online to access their health records, with GPs being able to refer patients via e-mail, rather than by sending a letter.

“This (a paperless NHS) is a real imperative for us. For not only does good technology bring real benefits, inadequate technology causes huge problems,” said Dr Poulter.

“Making records electronic will offset the widespread problem of staff being unable to access the data they need. Forty-four people died in the NHS last year as a result of being given the wrong medicine. Had prescription histories been readily available to hospitals, this number could potentially have been a lot lower.”

He added: “So sharing data more effectively is vital. It will increase safety levels, save people from having to repeat themselves whenever they see someone new, improve care, and help us in the hunt for new cures and therapies for killer diseases.”

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital recently allowed patients to record their progress from spinal injuries on an i-pad following an operation, which continued when they got home. This has removed the requirement for outpatient appointments, freeing up consultants’ time for another 300 patients annually.

Poulter emphasised that safeguards would be in place to ensure the protection of patients’ confidential information, with staff receiving “first-class” training in information governance. While the Government has failed in the past to deliver IT projects within the NHS, Poulter believes it will be different this time around:

“Past NHS IT projects have been famously disastrous,” he said.

“A major change this time around is that we are ensuring that the changes are driven locally, by hospitals and GPs. The Health and Social Care Information Centre will give local commissioners much better information. A top-down approach just doesn’t work.”

Within the print industry there is a complaint that ‘paperless’ campaigns unfairly portray their technology as being outdated and environmentally poor, despite performing an invaluable role in modern life. While digital communications appear to be newer and jazzier, they in fact require large data centres to house electronic information, using a higher level of power and energy.

Achieving reductions in paper usage should be a requirement of all businesses, in order to reduce costs and limit the environmental impacts of worldwide deforestation. Firms should aim to find the optimal combination of digital and print technology which best allows the achievement of their long term business objectives.