Burns: Blazing A New Trail


Even before Ursula Burns stepped into the Xerox CEO role, she had big shoes to fill. She was replacing Anne Mulcahy, who turned Xerox around in the toughest hour of its 100-year history. And she became the first female African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 company. After less than two years on the job, she is fitting into those designer Stuart Weitzman shoes very nicely.

Burns aggressively moved Xerox beyond its copier and document management roots with the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services in 2009. ACS, a perennial VAR500 company, brings business process management and services to the company's roster. As a result of the acquisition, Xerox bolstered its services revenue from 23 percent to 50 percent within one year. This number is only expected to grow as Xerox shifts to a model of locking in customers with multiyear contracts and generating a steady stream of recurring revenue.

Burns also has set her sights on growing the channel. Last month she introduced herself to more than 200 of Xerox's most loyal partners at the company's Fusion conference. This was the first time she spoke as CEO to the partner community. She told her personal story, articulated the company's strategy and outlined its initiatives.

At the show, Xerox said it would dramatically expand the number of office products VARs can sell as well as provide them with a tool to garner recurring revenue off the supplies business. This tool, called eConcierge, will alert users when they need supplies, and with a click of a mouse they can order them. Xerox partners can sell the service to their customers as their own branded offering. Some VARs said they would use it as a way to engage more closely with existing customers by offering a service warranty for free and getting revenue through this service. Others saw it as an opportunity to resurrect inactive accounts.

The company is looking to recruit managed service providers who can add a managed print practice with very little investment. If a VAR is managing other back-office applications such as e-mail hosting, security or storage, then document management and printing becomes a no-brainer.

A few weeks later, Burns and the Xerox team got a bit more aggressive, with the announcement of an alliance with Cisco to bring more managed print, mobile print and cloud IT outsourcing services to solution providers.

The alliance allows VARs to offer Xerox managed print services over Cisco's own Borderless Networks. It potentially expands its footprint to the 25,000-plus Cisco VARs. What's more, Xerox will deliver its Cloud ITO services built on Cisco's Unified Computing System and Vblock through ACS to VARs. It also will bring Xerox's mobile print solution to Cisco virtual desktops and the Cisco Cius tablet, letting customers print from any e-mail-capable device to any Xerox mobile-print enabled device. These moves open up opportunities for Xerox with the Cisco channel base and position both companies nicely against rival HP.

And there's more to come. As Xerox is settling into the integration, the company is investigating ways the channel can partner with ACS. So watch this space. Burns is charting a new course around services and recurring revenue and hoping to more aggressively partner with VARs along the way.

BackTalk: Kelley Damore is VP, Editorial Director for Everything Channel. You can reach her via e-mail at kelley.damore@ec.ubm.com.