Cross-Company Innovation Addresses the Changing Nature of Work
Cross-Company Innovation Addresses the Changing Nature of Work

As a long-time partner of Staples and Xerox, I just traveled to New York City to spend National Small Business Week with the two organizations, learning how they’re helping small business customers and entrepreneurs be more productive with the new multi-function self-serve machines in Staples stores across the country.

By 2030, more than half of American professionals will no longer go to an office every day.  Getting simple things done, like sending a package or printing a critical document, will not be as easy as making a few clicks and sauntering over to the mailroom. As millions of new small business owners and contract workforce pour into the workforce, they will find out exactly how difficult it is to run every aspect of a business themselves. I’ve been working with Staples and Xerox to ensure that the two businesses are ahead of this trend and ready to offer the assistance that busy professionals, operating out of a home office and via mobile devices, so desperately need.

According to Amy Lang, Vice President of Print Merchandising at Staples, 18 million customers came to Staples stores last year, specifically to use Business Center services like printing. “Sometimes people have time to plan and order online; sometimes they need a document within the hour; sometimes they need help; and sometimes they want to come in and leave quickly without having to talk to anyone,” she said. “Our customers need to do their jobs, which involve thinking and doing as opposed to printing.”

Xerox printers have long been a “staple” of every Staples store’s Business Center, in the past, Xerox would simply send new products to Staples stores for employees to plug in and for customers to use. But Staples realized the value of tapping Xerox in advance to develop a machine that would address the changing needs of its customers.

Here’s what’s fascinating: you don’t usually see two large companies coming together to innovate on a solution that doesn’t yet exist. But that’s exactly what happened. Staples and Xerox combined their understanding of the customer, with Xerox’s constantly improving technology, to transform the Business Center experience from the ground up. “The goal was to design the machine to be intuitive to use for anyone walking up to it for the first time,” said Renee Carter, Vice President of Mid-Products for Xerox.

When Staples and Xerox finished their creation, they sent 3,000 of the new devices to Staples stores. The new MFPs have an interface that looks like a tablet and allows customers to print or scan from the cloud, usb, mobile device, and email. They have bar code readers to enable coupons and credit card readers so that people can pay without going to the counter. The MFPs are also future-proofed, meaning they are pre-configured with additional apps and functions that Staples customers may well demand soon.

Not only are the MFPs fully upgraded, but they save customers a tremendous amount of time and help them achieve productivity and results normally reserved for corporate employees. And THIS is a change that is bound to benefit everyone as the nature of work continues to evolve.