maxkabakov - Fotolia
Andrew Morrison was handed the chance to lead the UK & Ireland at Xerox at the start of the year and quickly identified the channel as one of the main areas where the firm could increase its activity.
Not only is the firm looking to work with more partners on the hardware and print management fronts but it is handing them the tools to develop their own applications to provide customers with a customised experience.
The starting place for a discussion about Xerox naturally starts with the decision made by the firm last year to split the business with the technology and hardware business carrying on under the long standing brand and the Conduent services operation going its own way.
What has the split meant to the UK?
We went though the separation last year and we formed two separate companies. One of the outcomes of the new organisation and new model was a bias towards geographic integration so we could really reflect local markets, local needs and local channel partners and the different dynamics of the local markets. It is proving to be right because although there are broad similarities there are distinct differences and being very connected with customers and partners is a very important part of the model.
How is this year going?
It is going really well. We are two quarters into the year and the new company and the main priorities remain leveraging our strengths and increasing our market share in key segments like A3 connected devices, production colour and to expand and grow our document outsourcing presence, with services like managed print services or production orientated services.
We also see real opportunities in certain key areas, for example a new range of channel friendly products that are going to enter into the SME space. There is much more innovation and more opportunity for partners because of the nature of the technology, which is above and beyond an engine. It is the whole Connect platform and open connect capabilities and APIs with the freedom to code, configure and build applications. We see that as a real opportunity for channel partners to differentiate and innovate and importantly increase our penetration in the SME space. The other opportunity is around inkjet production systems. We have had a very good second half last year and a good first half and the rest of this year looks really dominant. We often talk about the migration from cut sheet to continuous and the image quality requirements are closer to what's needed. Tolerances are coming down and the economics work well so we are seeing a really big opportunity in areas like packaging, books and transactional high volume variable print and photographs.
The corporation took the opportunity with the new company to streamline and simplify the business and there are a lot of efficiencies coming through that programme and that's what creates the headroom for the investment and growth in other areas. The other good thing is that innovation is back at the top table of the organisation.
What does that innovation mean for partners?
The key to the partner application builder network is the flexibility and the access to the code and developer tools are available. That's quite a shift. Innovation could come from anywhere and no longer just from Xerox but also from the partner network. By 2017 there has been something like 300,000 apps installed on Xerox devices. That is an interesting evolution from just printing technology to looking at the art of the possible with digital printing and workflows.
The brand is really strong and synonymous with print. But one of the strengths of Xerox is that it has stayed pretty true to its business model and true to innovation. That is being tested in the market and business models are important. Ours has been true for sometime and delivered innovation. A lot of partners want access to it.
What does the channel mean to Xerox?
The channel is fundamental. More and more you focus on innovation, differentiation and where you add real value and specialist skills to differentiate yourself. The vehicle for the technology business is primarily the channel. The resellers have many of the services and have invested in those. The channel tends to be very entrepreneurial and agile and companies that manufacture can benefit from that. Any large business that partners with these agile smaller businesses can have a symbiotic relationship.
There are more and more use cases by industry [of where the channel has developed tailored services], helping with high volume business processes and you will start to see a big catalogue of opportunities and solutions and applications. Resellers will start to be able to offer turn-key solutions for businesses to do better invoicing or accounts payable, better HR on-boarding and that's really interesting to a lot of partners.
It is also a challenge because the partners that will succeed will be more IT savvy and more IT literate. They have to make those investments, and we will support them in that. Whether they develop those skills themselves or whether they want to leverage another part of the network or our capability, it's all available to them.
Are you taking to more IT resellers?
As these things become more multifunctional digital devices you will see it come under the domain of IT. That migration has been happening for ages but it will accelerate because they are networked citizens now. Because of the capabilities through the platforms IT now is taking it on as end user compute. As a result the projects get bigger and more interesting and you have to be more IT savvy and be able to differentiate yourself. The level of interest from IT is a lot higher than it used to be.