Partner Watch

Changing colours

Andrew Hurt, General Manager Xerox Emirates

Set up more than two decades ago as a copier reseller, the company?s latest transformation includes consulting based managed print services and business process outsourcing supported by a channel network

Xerox Emirates has recently shifted into its sprawling new office in Dubai’s IMPZ free zone area. The word goes that the new building, with its combined office, warehouse, equipment showcase, training, service and network operation centres is the inspiration of Andrew Hurt, Xerox Emirates General Manager since 2004. And going by the visible excitement he demonstrates when he takes visitors around the premises the assumption seems to be right on the mark. Hurt joined Xerox in the UK in 1987 and has worked through its ranks joining the Middle East operations in 1998. While Xerox Emirates was set up as a joint venture in 1985 between Mohamed Hareb Al Otaiba Group and Xerox Limited, the business model has continually undergone transition since then.

The new Xerox Emirates building at IMPZ in Dubai houses administration, warehouse, equipment showcase, training, service and network operation centre and is managed by Andrew Hurt, General Manager Xerox Emirates

The venture was initially set up with the objective of being a reseller for Xerox’s analog copier products. But changed with the introduction of colour and connected products in the document management space. Says Hurt: “Ten years ago we were essentially selling technology and break-fix services. Now we do all of that, but we also do an awful lot more in terms of value added solutions.”

The vision of Xerox Emirates today is to build value added solutions around its technology products. While its products range from low end copier to high end, high resolution scanning and printing devices, growth drivers today are more from value added end-customer solutions.

The warehouse can hold close to 2,000 pallets and usually carries three months inventory

The company which has been averaging 30% growth year on year over the last three years has found two key drivers to accelerate its revenue. The two areas are managed print services (MPS) and business process outsourcing (BPO). Both MPS and BPO are built around Xerox’s document management technology but Xerox Emirates has wrapped its value added services around the core offering. “We have always looked at adding value to the solutions in terms of where we are playing,” says Hurt.

With regard to MPS, Xerox Emirates has achieved as much revenue in the first six months of 2011, as it achieved in twelve months of 2010. Hurt indicates there are two key reasons for this. For one, post its success in 2010, Xerox Emirates has been aggressively focussing on this segment in 2011. And second, the demand has picked up across the region and customers are asking for it.

Globally across the last three years there has been an accelerated interest in outsourcing of print management. Within the region, end customers are looking at progressively handing over management of document output with the objective of better efficiency and economies of scale.

The Xerox solid ink cartridges are eco-friendly with a small green footprint

The MPS offer from Xerox Emirates includes both Xerox and non-Xerox print devices in an organisation and converts them into remotely managed devices from its in-house network operations centre. Toner replenishment, optimal productivity across a network of printers, periodic maintenance, uptime of devices, security controls amongst others, is covered under its MPS contract. This is a proactive approach, which is contrary to a reactive break-fix or maintenance support agreement. Comments Hurt, “When we are talking to a strategic account we are not talking about multifunctional devices, we are talking about managed print services.” Almost one third of Xerox Emirates staff is present at customer sites at any moment of time.

To drive this segment of value added business, Xerox Emirates has decided include channel partners. The first choice of partners would come from two categories. Either partners who are already supporting end customers in the area of desktop outsourcing or other IT process outsourcing or alternatively those who can help Xerox Emirates get a foot into untapped large customer accounts. Since Xerox Emirates sales team maintains direct contact with strategic customer accounts, partners who can bring in large relationship accounts from outside this space are of immediate interest to it.

The network operation centre remotely monitors print operations at various customer sites

For Hurt, the most important part of building the value business in the channel is to ensure partners have a good return not dependent on volume based transactions. Both MPS and BPO are value added services based on consulting framework, have extended or annual contracts and are linked to the competence of the engaging partner rather than price point. “If we are going to be successful in the channel we need to make sure channel partners can see the potential of working with Xerox. They need to have an aspect of annuity associated with the technology and not just a technology sale. They need to tap into some element of the service and that is what we are working on now.”

To help partners get started in the MPS area, Xerox Emirates has created its Xerox Partner Print Services on-boarding programme. Partners are first trained and need to certify in the area of sales, technology and operations. Next they simulate an internal pilot engagement, pitch for an actual, full cycle MPS contract and then receive their accreditation into the XPPS programme.

“We are accrediting our partners to sell MPS on behalf of Xerox,” is the way Hurt looks at the programme from the perspective of future end customers.

While Hurt has the XPPS programme rolling and partners are going through the accreditation process, he has another approach to move ahead on the MPS business development front. Xerox Emirates plans to sell through, sell with or sell to, whichever gives early results alongside its strategic partners on a case to case basis. Not all partners are currently equipped to build up and close a prospective sale and Xerox Emirates will use a team working agreement on an account to account basis.

Since channel partners can have a mix of capabilities across system integration, value added reselling and transactional reselling, selecting the right profile of partners is also important for Xerox Emirates. Till now it has identified a dozen odd partners including SI players Seven Seas, HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems. “Partners who understand where the market is going are very keen to be involved with us in terms of managed print services. They see that as a big opportunity”.

Another key channel initiative is the appointment of Trigon as the volume distributor for UAE. Hence channel partners that do not fit into the value added XPPS programme can fit in as volume resellers supported by Trigon. These partners will be the tier-two channel partners for Xerox Emirates. Trigon will be managing fulfilment of A3 range of Xerox products as well as selling of page-packs and break fix support services. Xerox Emirates does not have a retail focus.

However there is a still a lot of education to be done in the market, both in terms of moving customers towards the usage of colour and moving them away from standalone copiers and printers.

Other than its go-to-market activities, global initiatives by Xerox are positively impacting Xerox Emirates future revenue outlook. One such factor is the recent acquisition of global call centre solution vendor ACS. With the acquisition and consolidation of ACS revenue, Xerox overnight has become the largest business process document company in the world. While the global acquisition of ACS took place over 18 months ago, for the Middle East region it is still work in progress. Both ACS and Xerox Emirates are working alongside to find suitable opportunities where their solutions can work synergistically for an end-customer. As an example, if Xerox Emirates has deployed a document management solution in a bank, it can also try to leverage ACS call centre solutions with the same end customer. “We are looking at being a services led company accelerated with the acquisition of ACS,” is how Hurt looks at the upcoming synergy opportunities.

ACS is positioned by Gartner in the leader’s quadrant of help desk vendors and shares the quadrant with HCL Technologies, CSC, IBM, Siemens and others.

Another area of synergy between ACS and Xerox Emirates is the usage of service quality management tools like Lean Six Sigma, ISO 20000 and others. According to Gartner usage of such tools has become necessary for vendors to remain competitive rather than for differentiation. This is especially applicable for both ACS and Xerox, which have a solution cross over in the area of content and document management.  For Hurt, who has built the local business on the basis of service delivery standards, quality initiatives like Lean Six Sigma are an intrinsic part of the business culture.

As part of its service delivery model for both MPS and BPO, Xerox Emirates engages on a consulting level in the initial stages of discussion with end customers. On a simplistic milestone basis this can be described as define, analyse, measure and control the customer environment. The consulting engagement starts with the presales team making an assessment of the customer’s operating environment, designing a solution and then piloting the solution to working proof of concept for the customer. Once the contract is negotiated, the responsibility moves from account management to project management. For partners able to manage such deep levels of customer engagement and responsibility the returns are high. A typical MPS project may yield a 3:1 ratio in terms of product to services revenue and a BPO project may yield a ratio of 1:3 in terms of products to services revenue.

BPO projects are therefore more prolonged and sophisticated than MPS projects and are almost always turnkey projects with an after sales contractual support built-in.

Another innovative approach that Xerox Emirates has brought into its BPO solutions is to leverage on non-Xerox solutions on top of the Xerox technology platform. To capture the opportunity across government departments, ministries and universities it is currently using EMC Documentum for its Arabic localisation projects. “We have been working in the BPO space for the last eight to nine years and source the best of breed solutions from non Xerox products,” says Hurt. For its BPO product portfolio, Xerox Emirates provides solutions across the full document life cycle including content management, scanning, archiving, imaging and signatures.

Reflecting on the changes that have taken place over the years, Hurt points out as a joint venture the company wears a number of hats in a somewhat unique way. It started operation as transactional reseller, progressed to high end value added reseller and now operates as a value added distributor supporting the growth of its channel partners. Irrespective of which hat is on, Andy’s vision and relentless drive appears to be a success formula keeping the company on a consistent and unique growth path.

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The XPPS programme

The objective of Xerox Partner Print Services programme is to make a channel partner competent in selling and delivering managed print services. This includes training for multiple departments, internal pilot and real life sales closure. The programme involves the following training areas:

Sales training: This includes sales and pre-sales support staff who typically engage clients and go through all steps of the MPS process. Certification covers sales skills, assessment knowledge and advanced design skills.

Technology: This includes technical support staff working with customers before after closure of a contract and interfacing with Xerox for software support issues. Certification covers software installation and configuration to enable consistent operational delivery.

Operations: This is meant for the delivery team supporting on board customers. Certification covers advanced help desk, device management, incident management and billing.

Levels of certification: There are two formal levels of certification for XPPS Partners, Platinum and Gold.

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Process improvement inside Xerox Emirates

In 2009, Xerox Emirates started re-engineering its processes to make them efficient and productive and add value to the customer. This is being done through Lean Six Sigma quality initiative methodology across sales and marketing, customer services, finance, infrastructure and strategy. Company-wide business processes are mapped and steps involving little or no customer value are eliminated altogether. Till date 120 processes have been mapped and an equivalent number of projects have been created with the purpose of generating the new processes. The joint process development can lead to solutions that no one person can develop alone.

Current statistics at Xerox Emirates include 30 green and black belts in Lean Six Sigma methodology, 35 projects managed and completed and 100 employees inducted in yellow belt awareness training programme. To make the benefits of Lean Six Sigma more accessible to employees the QwikSolver tool has been made available to them. Version 2.0 of Lean Six Sigma is being introduced to make the tool more flexible and easy to use by all aspiring employees even without certification.

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