by Robin Wessel, Director, New Business Development
Xerox Indirect Channels Business Group

The way I interact with information these days has changed with the advent of the cloud. Services like DropBox, Box.net, SugarSync, and a dozen others have made the once challenging task of keeping information accessible from multiple devices like your laptop, smartphone and tablet a snap. Nothing beats the convenience of tossing an article you downloaded, or better yet, some pictures you took into the “box” and being able to access them with just about every device you own.  These services allow you to do things like scan a document on your phone and upload it to your cloud archive. Capabilities like this come in handy when you need to take something that lives in the world of paper and transform it into the convenient world of digital.

With the technology battles between iPhone and Android, one expects amazing cool apps that can do just about anything with the cloud are available for free or as little as $1.99.  But would you guess the forgotten, unsung hero in the office, your multifunction printer (MFP), could do some cool wizbang cloud tricks that today’s smartphones and tablets can do? In short, yes.

Did you know that virtually any MFP can scan directly to the popular cloud archive services today? As long as it supports scan-to-email, a common function in networked MFPs, you’ve got  an on-ramp to cloud nirvana. Here’s how you do it in a few easy steps.

  1. If you have not already done so, configure your multifunction printer with scan-to-email. This usually involves setting up the e-mail address in the MFP’s controller. Typically all the settings are available from within the printer’s web configuration page and can be accessed by typing the MFP’s IP address in your browser. Settings are similar to those on your smartphone or e-mail software on your PC.
  2.  Configure your cloud storage service to accept e-mails. Popular services like box.net and Sugar Sync provide easy to follow instructions. If you are a Dropbox user, you can use a simple helper application. Other services like Sharepoint,  Evernote, and Google Docs will also help you with their set up.
  3.  To make life easier, save the e-mail as a preset in the MFP. Depending on the service you can even set up different e-mails to send to different folders.

Now your humble multifunction printer is a cloud-enabled scan machine! The next time you have the need to put a paper-based document or photo into your cloud archive, you can do it with a couple button pushes from the front panel of your MFP rather than scanning it manually.

And while this may elevate the cool status of the MFP, I can’t promise your friends will keep a straight face if you decide to “friend” it like you just did your new iPhone 4s. However I bet you can make your work life just a bit easier.