Legacy Systems No Problem For Multifunctional Network Devices

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“In the network output systems mansion, there are many rooms.”

This liberal takeoff on a biblical quote might sum up what insurers and manufacturers of network systems would feel about the use of network output systems in the insurance industry.

Why? Because manufacturers of network systems are producing top-notch, multifunctional machines that can print, scan, and fax on a new server-based system, as well as an outdated legacy system.

“I believe the insurance industry will use the legacy system for some time to come,” says John Salsman, industry director for financial services at Lexmark International Inc., Lexington, Ky. “And we are quite committed to accommodating it.”

How do the latest models of network output systems accommodate old-fashioned network operation systems? “They are both stand-alone and network products,” Jim Contino, manager at Xerox Corporation, Rochester, N.Y., explains. “There is little technical conflict between the old technology they use and the new technology [used in the output devices].” The high level of interoperability is possible because, Contino notes, “network connectivity has been made much more simple and easy than it was 10 years ago.”

If one single machine, while running on an old system, can print, scan and fax, its advantages will be tremendous, says Contino. In small and midsize offices, users can receive a document by fax and edit it immediately on-screen. They can also archive the files in a number of formats ranging from MS Word, to HTML, to PDF, to Text.

“The solution [our multifunctional machines provide] is not just a scan process,” stresses Contino. “The solution is aimed at allowing customers to do whatever they need to do with a hard-copy document.” This includes “editing a document in digital format, transmitting it, indexing it, etc.”

Multifunctional output devices can also help boost corporate security, because faxed documents sitting in an inbox can easily be read by anyone who is around, says Contino. Multifunctional devices can transform fax documents into electronic documents that can be shielded by a companys online security.

In the technology world, gadgets may not necessarily be user-friendly. Their diverse features may be underused because “regular Joes” find it hard to operate them. And at one time, multifunctional devices were no exception.

“In the past, that was always a problem,” says Frank Flaby, marketing manager at Ricoh Corp., West Caldwell, N.J. “We gave so much functionality to a product that it became so complicated to use.”

However, manufacturers appear to have made improvements. The Ricoh Aficio, the Xerox Centreware and the Lexmark OptraImage Seriesthe three latest models National Underwriter has researchedcan all be operated at the click of a mouse or the touch of a button.

“If you know how to run a copy machine, you can run our machine,” says Flaby. “Weve separated the functions from the operation point of view.”

“Our product has hard buttons on its control panel,” says Salsman, speaking for Lexmark. “When you want to copy, press the copy button, when you want to fax, press the fax button, and so on.”

The following are specifications of some of the models National Underwriter researched:

Lexmarks OptraImage 443, which can be installed on four models of the Optra Series, the companys laser printer lineup, can print and copy as many as 16 pages per minute. It can scan 21 pages per minute in monochrome and 12 pages in color.

Ricohs Aficio 180 can print and copy as many as 18 pages per minute. It can scan up to 50 pages at one time, and there is an optional automatic document feeder.

Xeroxs WorkCentre PRO 416Pi can print and copy at a maximum speed of 15 pages per minute.

All the three devices feature electronic collation/sorting and brochure creation capabilities.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, June 4, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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