If you think apps are something just for your phone and tablet, think again. Today’s “smart” MFPs (multifunction printers) feature embedded software platforms that can run downloaded apps to deliver functionality that stretches far beyond simple copying, printing, scanning, and faxing. So just as with a smartphone, an MFP can be custom-configured after purchase to perform the tasks the owner requires.

MFP apps make your employees more productive

The purpose of most MFP apps is to streamline a common or repetitive chore to save employees time and reduce the possibility of mistakes.

So, for example, instead of having to scan a paper document to a network folder or email, return to one’s desk, and move the file to an online storage/collaboration service, a “Scan to Box” or “Scan to Dropbox” app on the MFP will let a user send a file to the desired online folder with just a few button presses.

And while scan capture/route apps are the most prevalent, there is plenty of other functionality available in the growing universe of apps. One developer offers an editor app that lets you make quick edits to a Word or PowerPoint document right at the MFP before you print it out (handy if you catch a typo in a presentation on the way to the meeting), and there’s even a translator app that lets you scan a document in one language and receive a printout of it in another language while you wait.

Apps make your MFP personalized

Before the arrival of the software platforms and subsequent apps, most MFPs delivered functionality that was essentially set at the factory. Sure, you could customize the control panel to surface commonly used functions, and even have different control panel layouts based on an individual user’s login.

But now with apps, you can turn your MFP into a truly customized device that suits the document workflow tasks your various users and departments need to accomplish.

MFP apps can save you from spending a big chunk on dedicated software

As with smartphone apps, MFP-resident apps tend to offer more limited functionality than a full-blown PC- or server-resident application. So if your organization relies on an existing document management or line-of-business application, you’ll want to look for a “connector”: an app that resides on the MFP to capture and route documents to that larger application.

That said, if your workflow needs are less demanding, you may be able to find an app that delivers all of the functionality you need, without having to spend a lot of money on a more fully featured application.

MFP platforms future-proof your investment

There’s no telling what handy functionality the army of clever developers will come up with in the 3 to 5 years you’ll likely be using a new MFP.

So by investing in an MFP that offers an embedded software platform, you’ll have the option to extend its features and usefulness as new apps become available. This will keep your MFP from growing obsolete.

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