It’s been a wild 2018 at Xerox.
First, the company announced plans to merge with its longtime business partner, Fujifilm of Japan. That deal was announced in January. Afterward, all hell broke loose.
In February, activist shareholder Darwin Deason sued to block the deal. Carl Icahn joined him in a bid to prevent the merger from taking place and to replace company CEO Jeff Jacobson.
After a frenzy of deal making and boardroom brawling in early May, Xerox cancelled the deal with Fujifilm, fired Jacobson, named John Visentin as CEO and replaced five members of its board of directors.
Then in June, Fujifilm filed a lawsuit against Xerox for walking away from the merger, seeking $1 billion in damages.
Got all that?
Amid all the drama, the Norwalk, Connecticut-based company’s core business – selling printers, copiers and related services – remains under strain. Sales last year dipped 4.7 percent from the year prior, to $10.3 billion. In 2018, they have continued to fall, though only slightly. For the period ending March 31, sales totaled $2.44 billion compared to $2.45 billion one year ago.
Though sales in emerging economies look promising, the global outlook for printers, copiers and multifunction products looks tepid at best: In April, market researcher Gartner said, “the market is expected to post a five-year CAGR of negative 0.7 percent through 2022.”
The problem? People simply aren’t printing and copying the way they used to. No wonder Statista expects the number of printers and copiers sold worldwide to fall to 11.9 million units in 2021 from 12.38 million in 2017.
When approached by Xerox to discuss its recent channel developments, my instant reaction was, “absolutely.”
This week, we catch you up with Pete Peterson, president of Xerox Channels. Peterson joined the company in April 2017 after successful stints with TESSCO Technologies, Brocade and Tech Data. He joined in the immediate aftermath of some of the company’s biggest-ever product introductions.
Despite the maelstrom swirling around the company, Peterson says he's as excited about the opportunities that lie ahead as he was the day he joined Xerox. One reason why: Xerox commands strong loyalty among the thousands of partners that it relies on.
They include:500-600 agents and concessionaires that represent Xerox exclusively to their clients around the globe. 500-or-so document technology partners (DTPs), including office-products dealers that represent, in many instances, several printer/copier brands. 2,500 IT resellers that belong to the Xerox Velocity partner program and are supported by the company’s leading distributors, which include Tech Data, Ingram Micro and Synnex
Since joining the company, Peterson has spent a great deal of effort on an end-to-end assessment of his company’s partner engagement. Among other things, he has tasked his lieutenants to do what they can to make the company’s Global Partner Program simpler, more predictable and more profitable.
To aid in its understanding of the channel, Peterson has asked partners to complete a survey and tell him everything they like and dislike about working with Xerox. (Early returns are now pouring in and I’ll share what Peterson finds after I see him next.)
When pressed for a progress report, Peterson said the company has made strides in how it engages and interacts with partners. It has also streamlined how partners can tap channel-enablement funds.
Xerox has also made progress building out its App Gallery. There are now more than 50 apps available from the marketplace. There are apps that do everything from helping users scan documents to work more efficiently with Microsoft Office 365 to operating a multifunction device with your voice. And the best part? More than half of the apps in the store have been built by partners.
“We think we are just scratching the surface in terms of where this will go,” says Peterson. “We think this is a huge opportunity for dealers and strategic agent partners.”
Another big opportunity? Managed print services. Peterson is thrilled that dozens of partners have become certified to resell Xerox managed print services within the last six months. This includes companies such as AIS of Las Vegas and Allied Business Solutions from Boise, Idaho. In a blog written about his company’s new partnership, Gary Harouff, founder and president of AIS, said, “We consider ourselves a technology company — we’re more than just office equipment. We’re moving into new spaces such as production print and app development and want to increase our larger-size customer base. Xerox is the ideal partner to support our growth.”
Hoping to attract additional partners, Xerox has aggressively promoted some of the bigger deals that its MSPs have closed. In June, for example, it released a press release entitled, “More Big MPS Deals Reported Among Xerox Channel Partners” — a highly unusual move from a tier-one vendor. It followed another press release touting partner momentum, “Xerox Managed Print Services Opens Doors for Multi-Vendor Print Dealer.” It chronicled the success that Bishop Business Equipment of Omaha, Nebraska, is enjoying selling Xerox’s Managed Print Services (MPS).
Aggressive? Sure. That’s what Peterson has brought to the new Xerox. Given all the changes there, make that the new-new Xerox, which, as Peterson notes, is more than 112-years old.
“I’m excited about the future,” he says.
If the recent past is any indicator, it’s certainly not likely to be boring.