Nearly two years after taking over as the CEO of Xerox, Ursula Burns is enjoying her coming-out party with the IT channel. Consider these recent events: its first big partner conference in four years, a new managed print services tool, a significantly opened-up product portfolio for VARs and an all-out alliance with Cisco.
From mobile printing to cloud services to business process outsourcing, Xerox has become a state-of-the-art technology resource that businesses rely on to run more efficiently. To think of Xerox as a copier company is to think of Apple as a Macintosh company.
Earlier this month, Burns stood in front of more than 100 investors and analysts at the New York Stock Exchange to talk about “the new Xerox,” a company that will increasingly rely on partners to provide more products and services to SMB customers, she said.
“A lot has changed. Xerox has been working on transforming the company. We’re confident we have the right strategy, the competitive advantage and a disciplined focus on executing,” Burns told Wall Street May 10.
Two weeks earlier, Burns offered a more direct promise to VARs about their expanded role with the company going forward.
“We will give you more offers and work more closely with you to get in front of more customers with more value and more services. You’re clearly central to the push in document management and our MPS [managed print services] offerings will be delivered to SMBs by you,” Burns told the audience of more than 200 VARs at Xerox’s 2011 Fusion conference in San Antonio.
Several of Burns’ statements were met with applause from the audience, who have been waiting for the CEO--and the company--to come out of a quasi-self-imposed shell with the IT channel. It turns out Xerox wasn’t hiding, it was formulating.
“They’ve done an excellent job rolling this stuff out to the partner community,” said Tom McDonald, president of NSI, a Naugatuck, Conn., solution provider. “They listened to the channel and they took action. Xerox is giving us an opportunity to go out and talk to new customers now. This is like a hunting license from them,” he said.
Until recently, Xerox gave VARs a very limited portfolio of products to sell, which hampered its efforts to make inroads in the channel against Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark and others. Now Xerox has expanded its IT channel line card to include almost all A3 (11 x 17) color and monochrome devices up to 60 pages per minute. And not only can VARs sell the products, they can become authorized service providers for them. That marks the reversal of a stance Xerox took a few years ago.
“That had been taken away from us. We’ve had ongoing discussions for two years with Xerox on [A3]. We were really concerned about getting warranty service back on the big boxes. When we went away from A3, it was painful for a while. We had to provide labor at our internal costs. It was a political battle in Xerox,” said Mike Parmet, executive vice president at Parmetech, a Havertown, Pa.-based solution provider. “Now we can have our arms around a solution and take care of the client as opposed to relying on Xerox or a CompuCom.”
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