Dell unveils document management tool for printers

Dell is embedding document management features in multifunction printers as it tries to establish a foothold in the managed print services market, the company said Thursday.

The embedded custom software is in multifunction printers for specific vertical markets like education, legal and health care. Such embedded software expands the functionality of MFPs and automates printing and scanning tasks, said Orlando Lacayo, product manager at Dell's printing and imaging division. MFPs will be capable of scanning documents directly into forms or rerouting scanned documents to the right folders.

"As customers consolidate their printing resources and optimize their document workflow processes, it becomes very important to have software and integration tools to allow organizations ... become more efficient," Lacayo said.

For example, Dell's Healthcare Print Station printers will scan documents and place the scanned data inside electronic medical records by just pressing one button. Based on the form layout, nurses can scan prescriptions, which would go directly to the pharmacy. The printers could help reduce medical errors and improve patient care, Lacayo said.

The Dell Classroom Print Station and Legal Print Station can scan documents directly to a network folder without additional instructions. The classroom printing product will also be capable of instantly grading tests and reporting the results in the right document. However, a server with Windows and additional software will be required to carry out the grading, a Dell spokeswoman said.

The applications are developed in Java and embedded directly into the MFPs. The bundles will be included in Dell's 3333dn, 3335dn and 5535dn laser printers, which are Java-capable. The programs run directly from the printers.

The Legal Print Station software and Healthcare Print Station are priced at US$599, and the Classroom Print Station is priced at $1,099. The software packages are available immediately and can be purchased with the printers.

Dell hopes to develop and expand embedded software bundles to a larger number of industries in the future, Lacayo said.

Dell earlier this year said it would enter the managed services market in response to the growing amount of data in organizations. The company said its offerings mostly geared toward hardware and supplies, but it wanted to increase its focus on controlling the document flow in organizations. Dell is a new entrant in a market dominated by Hewlett-Packard and Xerox.

The company on Thursday also said it would make available software for mobile users to reroute printing jobs to the closest printers. The Proximity Printing software will lay out a map of printers, and users needs to click on their choice of printer. The software will be able to reroute printing jobs across printer brands around campuses or buildings, Dell said. The software will be available for download from Dell's support site.

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