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Xerox hosts first US app builder forum

October 19, 2017

As part of its commitment to the channel, Xerox hosts the first ever forum teaching its partners to create custom apps.

An exclusive report from CRN reveals that Xerox is seeking to help channel partners “develop intellectual property and differentiate their businesses by building personalised applications.”

In order to achieve this, the Connecticut-based company is playing host to “50 high-potential solution providers” this week, in order to teach them “how to build, price and market custom apps for Xerox’s multifunction printers.” This is Xerox’s first ever U.S. Personalised Application Builder Forum.

“The idea of doing customized apps can be a little bit daunting,” Roger Ellefson, Xerox’s general manager of office solutions, told CRN exclusively. “But it isn’t as daunting as they think. It’s much more within their grasp than they imagined.”

The company launched its Personalised Application Builder program back in 2014, and since then it has been joined by 131 channel partners. Although the volume of apps produced has not been particularly big, Ellefson described their impact as being “large” as they “leverage the close relationship between the solution provider and the end user”.

He also explained that the forum had been targeted at channel partners that are “entrepreneurial, active in professional services, and already take advantage of selling off-the-shelf apps as part of their day-to-day business”.

In addition, Ellefson said that one of the forum’s “key objectives” is to show the return on investment “generated by other Xerox partners that have built apps.”

Rather than just serving as a platform to give technical instructions on the creation of apps, the Xerox general manager said that the primary focus of the forum is to help “the decision-makers within a solution provider practice understand the investment costs associated with the new partners” and it is also “designed to facilitate conversations between channel partners” between those that have already had success with apps and those who have not yet focused their energies on them.

“This is something that’s growing and catching on,” Ellefson said.    

Xerox previously hosted a similar forum in Uxbridge, England, in 2016, as a result of which solution providers that attended have developed “new revenue streams and become more competitive in the marketplace”.

One of the companies hoping to turn the creation of apps to its advantage is the Rite Group, based in Jackson, Mo., which “hopes to build apps that leverages automation to turn time-consuming, repetitive tasks into a single, straightforward one-click process”.

“It’s the opportunity to make something that exactly fits that’s so appealing,” said Robin Cole, the Group’s President and CEO.

However, because Rite Group “is looking to write apps for a single customer with a handful of multi-function printers,” Cole said the cost of development must be “very low” and the process has “to be efficient.” Because of this, he is happy that Xerox “offers a smooth, low-cost development template for small workflow applications.”

“Xerox has taken a fresh, new approach,” Cole said. “We’re excited about the opportunity.”     

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