Xerox Embarks On Channel Expansion With New Focus

The Stamford, Conn.-based company sees the channel as a key to staying ahead of rivals like Dell, which recently voiced its intentions to jump into print managed services.

“For those channel partners who want to go the value-add route, this opens the door to the document space where in the past, nobody added value through printers,” said James Firestone, president of Xerox North America, in an interview with CRN.

“Now they can start adding value in this space,” Firestone said. “We’re committed to adding solutions [and] training capability for the reseller to offer their customers the added value within the document environment.”

The vendor is expanding its Solutions Advantage program—which it first rolled out in pilot form in the Southwest last year—to new regions including the Midwest and Southeast, the company said. About 50 solution providers joined the program last year, and Xerox is aiming to add 160 more.

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“We are going full blown with this,” said Chris McPherson, a sales manager at Landmark Systems, a Madison Heights, Mich.-based solution provider and Xerox partner. “We’ve been working with Xerox to develop this.”

During the pilot stages of the program, Landmark was able to use Xerox Office Productivity Advisor (XOPA) tool to also provide services, including asset management, beyond printing. McPherson said Xerox’s focus on working with the channel to provide assessment, consulting and managed services will make it hard for Dell to gain a foothold.

“You can’t compete with Xerox and their experience in managed services,” McPherson said. “That’s their bread and butter.”

The key to the program is the availability of XOPA, which is a turnkey analytical tool that solution providers can use to examine customers’ workflow, document needs and inefficiencies. XOPA is based on Xerox’s own, in-house assessment and consulting tool.

Firestone said he believes Dell’s model is not as well-tailored as Xerox’s channel-based plan for offering consulting, assessment and print managed services. Dell has made significant market-share gains in the printer space over the past year, and last month, Dell Senior Vice President Joseph Marengi said the company would seek to expand its reach into print managed services.

“Dell has a business model that capitalizes on making complex offers simple, and then driving transaction costs down. Very cost-effective, very volume-intensive,” Firestone said. “That’s their expertise. It’s difficult to use that business model to offer value in areas where the value is complex and where you have to be really close to the customer and understanding [of] their market environment.”