Copier and printer vendor Xerox Corp. is working to evolve with the rolling economy through technology, products and people—in that order. Two years ago, the Stamford, Conn., company placed a bet on color copying and printing and attacked the market with a handful of superfast products. In late 2001, the company overhauled the people side of the business—services. eWEEK Executive Editor/News Michael R. Zimmerman caught up with the person behind the strategies, Xerox Chairman Anne Mulcahy, at an event in New York last month to get her take on the increasing role of services to the company and the industry.
Todays announcements were focused on the office customer, but I think when most people think of Xeroxs customer base, they already think "office." What was unique about todays office announcements?
Our heritage has been in the office, but I think today we really talked about broadening the way we serve the office. I think we kind of narrowed our scope over the years in terms of big customers and highly functional kinds of devices. And todays announcement was about really serving the office, like everybodys office, not just big customers offices. And I think that is a change. Its all about broadening the scope of what we bring to the market so that we can participate in more customer decisions. Its not a one size fits all; its very customized both from the range of technologies.
Are you getting aggressive about the vertical segments?
I think the answer is yes in the sense that were trying to both customize ourselves as well as work with partners that provide total solutions to industry segments that we think are particularly document-intensive. And we can benefit from those vertical approaches.
What new things are in the pipeline?
The capability of technology, in terms of adding intelligence, is really exciting: the whole embedded services piece of this, that says, "OK, today maybe it can solve problems, order supplies, automate meter reads." In the future, it can be user identification; it can be automated distribution lists—all sorts of things that make it almost seamless to get complex document work done at a device. That intelligence is there to be had within the device, and I think we just keep thinking about layering new and better services into that architecture.
As to services, youve talked about expanding them down the road. What kinds of services are we talking about? More security?
Certainly, security is very hot. Theres also a lot of consulting services that are really helping make document processes in the office more productive. We talked about Office Document Assessments, but theres all sorts of solutions both on-site and off-site that can be delivered for customers that dont necessarily want to have paper documents. They might want to host applications off-site, where Xerox can manage the content and really do the client communications. And were doing more and more of that in terms of imaging services.
As far as your stated goal of getting services revenue to account for half the companys revenues, how far away are you from reaching that?
Were still a ways away. Id say when we look at what we deliver through services or in stand-alone consulting services, were still at about the 30 percent mark. So weve got a ways to go to get to the 50 percent mark. And I dont know that thats a fixed goal. It may be more; it may be less. But I think we know that we have the capability to grow services at a faster rate than we have to grow technologies.
How do you see the role of services at Xerox, when alls said and done?
I do think it is the lead for our customer engagement. We need to be engaging with our customers on the basis of solving problems that should be some combination of the expertise we deliver with our people. The technology and the actual services we can provide to support the solution—thats when were at our best in solving customer problems. I think it is the approach we should be leading with. You know, technology is a part of that solution, but its just not what you lead with.