Archive for November, 2009

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Canon’s UniFLOW tames the Wild West (of Networks)

November 20, 2009

About 3 Months ago we installed a Canon uniFLOW solution at a prestigious International business school in the Boston area. We had tried to provide a solution that would meet the needs of their very diverse network using a number of different technologies but each fell short, until we proposed and installed Canon’s UniFLOW.

So what was so unique about their network? Here are some of the challenges that we faced.

The School is looking to track their students (~250/year) copy & print on three Canon MFDs. The following criteria need to be met:

1. There is no Active Directory Login for the Students – Local Authentication. This caused several “solutions” to be non-starters. In the spirit of full disclosure their actually is an Active Directory, but the students are NOT forced to login to it before printing.

2. The system needs to track prints & copies (faxes or scans are optional). It also came to light during the install that only the students would be charged, the faculty & staff would not be charged, but they did want to still track their print & copy usage. No Problem with Canon’s UniFLOW.

3. Student bring their own Computers with a wide variety of (OS) Operating Systems (several Flavors of, XP, Vista, Home & Pro, MAC  OS  X.4 & 5, both 32 & 64 bit systems) The Home versions of XP & Vista caused a couple of Solutions to drop out of the running.
4. Minimal prep work should be done to the students Computers. – Good documentation was the key! Screen shots and simple instructions allowed the diverse student population to set themselves up with minimal support from the IT Dept.
5.  Students should have an initial level of access (dollar amount or clicks) across all 3 Canon MFDs. We (NECS) were the first Canon uniFLOW install in the USA to integrate with PAYPAL! This allowed the school to give the students an initial printing allowance, and then the students could replenish their printing budget as needed with little to no IT involvement.
6. Students should be able to go to a specific staff member to add value to their account and have the staff member reactivate their account or add value to an active account. UniFLOW \ PAYPAL integration made it unnecessary for the staff to be involved in this process. Causing significantly lower support overhead for the school. this was a HUGE benefit to the school.
7. The Canon MFDs currently have eCopy SSOP embedded. There should be no conflict with this app. Because there was a sensitivity to cost, the initial implementation met this criteria but we did NOT integrate the two apps. This has been proposed as a future enhancement so that UniFLOW will pass forward the student or staff login credntials to the embedded eCopy SSOP app. This would allow the students \ staff to login to BOTH UniFLOW & eCopy SSOP when they tap their school security card on the MFD proximity card reader.
8. There are 6 Lab PCs that will need a Pop Up type of authentication so that multiple students may use it while still billing their prints to their accounts. This knocked out another solution we looked at. We loaded the Canon UniFLOW client with a pop up on the Public PCs in the Lab so that each student would get a pop up for their credentials each time that they printed.

9. It would be nice if the solution would provide true follow me type of Printing. Where a student could use a universal print driver and pull down the job at any Canon they chose to use. Canon UniFLOW allows Students & Staff to simply login to any Canon MFD running the UniFLOW MEAP app. by tapping their school issued security card on a proximity reader attached to the Canon MFD. The first time they tap their prox card it asks them to login to the UniFLOW system which will import their user info from the Schools Active Directory. They NEVER need to login again unless their AD pasword changes. Once they login in to ANY Canon MFD running the UniFLOW MEAP app they can then release their print jobs. Thus the print jobs “follow” the student(s) to whatever Canon MFD that they choose to login to.

This was a tall order from a good customer, after trying a couple of “solutions” that failed to meet all the requirements, Canon UniFLOW tamed the wild west (of networks). It was a true “solution” for this school. We combined Software, Hardware & Know How to solve the school’s business problem!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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The problem with the Xerox ColorCube pricing model

November 13, 2009

Xerox has been touting its new color cube pricing model.

On paper it sounds great! It sounds like you could print some color documents for little more than the price of a black & white page. The Xerox sales force has been showing off three sample pages and giving the following costs per page

.0089 -(under a penny) for a B&W page with just a small color logo
.029  -for a page with a little more color
.059 -their highest rate for a color page. (BTW, both Canon & Konica Minolta have a lower per page color price)

The .0089 seems unbelievable to the Customer, they can now do color for the price of black & white (so says Xerox). In fact, at this cost why would anyone even care if their end users print everything in color? And THAT IS WHAT XEROX IS HOPING FOR!

Because if Xerox can get the customer (and especially the CFO) to not care if their end users print color then they WILL print color, and the cost will rise, and Xerox will make more money, because their customers will spend more money.

How you ask? Let’s look at how we set up most of our customers now. When one of our customers buys a Color MFD we default BOTH the Copier and all the Print Drivers to B&W. We set it up in such a way that when an End User copies or prints without thinking it comes out in B&W. If they want color they must choose color. They must actually make an effort to switch from the B&W default to Color when they copy or when they print. And guess what? That keeps the price EVEN LOWER than the lowest color price of the Xerox Color Cube.

And if that is not enough we will lock down the color capabilities so that only certain end users can do color at all. If certain end user’s jobs don’t require them to print or copy in the color then they don’t get the ability to do so. While other end user’s jobs do need this ability. So we give them the codes to do so. This strategy works to keep the cost of color printing truly low for our customers.

Xerox is trying to remove these safe guards, but I believe that Customers who do allow their End Users to print everything in color will find that these amazing savings that Xerox is promising will be as illusive as “free health care”.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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Picking up talent on the cheap….or not!

November 10, 2009

It has begun to happen! eCopy, Ricoh, and others have begun to lay off or “let go” people, talented people. Some of them I know personally, many I respect.

What does this mean to your organization? If you are a direct Branch, or a large Independent Dealer, or even a “Mom and Pop” you can get some real talented people to fill key roles in your organization for a bargin.

Yes you will likely pay less for them then they made at their previous job, but be careful! Don’t get greedy. Don’t take advantage of the really talented people. They are NOT in the bargain bin, they simply got caught standing when the music stopped. It could of been you, or me, but it was them. And you may be able to pay them less than they are really worth, but if you succumb to this temptation you do it at your own peril.

If you do you will pick up some key talent for your organization BUT YOU WON’T KEEP THEM. Is that what you really want??? To temporarily fill a position? I don’t think so! So be reasonable, yes you will not pay them what they were making, but think about what they are worth and NOT just what you can get them for.

Why? (Are you really asking why?) Because (please forgive the CAPS) THE PRIMARY JOB OF MANAGEMENT IS TO GET AND KEEP GOOD PEOPLE (TALENT), IF WE DO THIS, THE COMPANY WILL RUN WELL. The part of this formula that the “bargain bin” recruiting fails to consider is “KEEPING” the talent you hire. Isn’t that what we all really want? A long term addition to your team?

Do you want them to be loyal, and stay after the crisis has past? Then the ball is in your court. Be reasonable in your offer and they in turn they will be loyal to you and your company. Resist the baser instinct to cheap out on your offer, in the long run you (and your company) will be glad you did.

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com