By Andreas Weber, Head of Value
Part 1: Xerox in convers(at)ion
No doubt: he was the (secret) star of the #XeroxForum 2019 in Portugal — without having to be present: John Visentin, since May 2018 Vice Chairman & CEO at Xerox Corporation. To reach this position was anything but smooth. As rarely before in the history of our industry was an open dramatic struggle between major shareholders and then CEO – Jeff Jacobson – kindled. Because Jacobson wanted to sell Xerox to Fujifilm. And failed miserably. The argument of the opponents: Xerox can create growth out of itself, if the traditional company completely renews itself.
Now, after exactly a year, the plan seems to work. For more than 30 years, as an analyst of Xerox, the company has always been at the top of my watchlist, with ups and downs and existential crises; but never before has a company of this size changed so brilliantly, so impressively, so quickly for the better.
The ‘phoenix from the ashes’ effect
John Visentin said briefly and briefly on his LinkedIn account months ago, “Today’s Xerox is transforming itself into a technology powerhouse, one that is leveraging its deep heritage in innovation to fuel the future of intelligent work. We are reinvigorating our brand by rewiring how we operate as a company. Our talented team is digitally-driven, focused on commercializing innovation, simplifying and optimizing operations to better serve customers and partners, with a heightened commitment to shareholder returns.“ And he keeps his word. And he presented and quantified frankly his new strategy, I call them “less is more”, in front of financial analysts in early February 2019.The key message: Xerox must accept that sales are initially declining, but it remains profitable in any case, from 2021 re-formed and to grow dynamic.
A series of ad hoc measures and changes in top position appearing to be effective because top talent is being brought in from the outside. For example: Steven Bandrowczak, President and Chief Operations Officer at Xerox Corporation, June 2018, said: “Xerox is undergoing a massive evolution from a printer-focused enterprise to one’s creating connected, IoT enabled device supporting digital workflows. This is not your grandfather’s Xerox-this company is investing in sensor technology and developing a software strategy. Although it continues to rely on its Palo Alto Research Center, a staple of the company since the 1970s. ”
Attentive readers of my ValueBlog know what is meant: AI – Artificial Intelligence is a new focus at PARC and at Xerox. It goes new, contemporary and forward-looking ways, as my interview with Elisabeth Rochman from October 2018 occupied.
High tension and maximum expectation: What will become of print?
In recent months, it has not always been easy to gauge how and if print or the Xerox definition of ‘graphic communications’ will play a central role. The #XeroxForum — hosted by Xerox to attract GC top customers from around the world, revealed that. Only working with Xerox for a few weeks, Terrence Clark used the opportunity for face-to-face meetings and clear statements. John Visentin personally hired him to create software at Xerox as a stand-alone business and, most importantly, as an important strategic pillar.
Terrence Clark was impressed by the status of the subsidiary XMPie. Jacob Aizikowitz and his team were able to welcome him in Israel before the #XeroxForum and summarize on two days how the world of personalization and automation of multichannel solutions has evolved and how XMPie has become an ‘enabler’ for digital transformation in networked print media scenarios. “I come from the financial sector,” said Terrence Clark, “and can assure them that every industry, every business, must face the transformation in the Digital Age. This affects us as much as our customer.“ From his point of view, the conditions that Xerox can offer to create customer-specific, highly innovative, high-performance software solution offerings are outstanding. He also spoke with Xerox customers with interest and looked closely at Xerox partners such as geomarketing specialist LOCR, who briefed the #XeroxForum marketplace about their offer and how they can network with the specific Xerox solutions.
The #XeroxForum 2019 followed my guideline “Less is more” with the motto: “What if we could print opportunies?”. The event was less crowded, but high-caliber, more focused, yet open and rich in the choice of topics and in the design of presentations and workshops. Courtney Harwood, Chief Marketing Officer at Xerox since August 2018, was responsible for the furious ‚Made to Think‘ brand re-launch. And reported in an inspiring way, as is not usual otherwise. ‘The Digital Illusionists’ Keenan Leyser and Matt Daniel-Baker showed for the first time a stage show that skillfully and intelligently ‘juggled’ digitization and transformation.
James Duckenfiel, president of Xerox Premier Partner Group and CEO of Hobs Group / UK, introduced his extraordinary book ‘Spellbound: A grimoire of magical digital print ‘. Afterwards distributed to all participants a book as a gift. Bingo!
What else was important, I will describe in Part 2, which will soon go on air including an exclusive interview with Tracey Koziol and Hubert Soviche. Be curious.
Via Twitter Moments it is possible to view a first summary with short texts, pictures and videos.
⚡️ “#XeroxForum 2019” von @ValueCommAG