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“Digital is not optional” – Anne Mulcahy, ceo of Xerox, lays it down at IPEX

Thursday, 06 April 2006
By Print21

In a series of public announcements and participation is a high-powered media forum that had Bernard Schreier endorsing her outlook, Mulcahy (pictured right) proved herself to be the industry visionary, yet again. Ever since she took charge of an ailing Xerox Corporation in 2000 she has consistently pushed the message that the digital revolution is not something that will happen in the future, but is here and now. Six years later and boasting the largest exhibit at the show and a corporation in rude financial health, she has made Xerox an integral part of the printing and graphic arts industry.

Few participants at IPEX were so proactive; Xerox flew in 200 Premium European Partners for a two-day conference in Birmingham, hosted a considerable number of printers from Australia and New Zealand and took five orders for high-end systems, including three iGen3s.

“All and all not a bad day,” said Mulcahy at her press conference. “I’m on my second round of major printing shows now – including drupa 2000 and
2004, Print 01 and Print 05 and IPEX 2002 and 2006.

“What brings me back is not the technology, though it’s incredible to see all this
innovation under one roof. Not the opportunity to sell, though it’s critically important to our business, and not the chance to check out the competition, because there aren’t any big

“What brings me back is the chance to listen…to customers … partners … thought leaders … educators and graphic communications providers of every kind. Listening is a skill we’ve been using to help transform Xerox. We believe in it and we keep trying to get better at it.

“Six years ago, few people in this industry believed Xerox understood the requirements of commercial printing. And they weren’t shy about telling me so.
In the years that followed we went back to school, getting inside this industry … hiring experts from outside Xerox, launching a bevy of new digital systems and developing relationships with best of breed partners like Heidelberg, EFI, Adobe and others.
“Six years later, after investing five percent of our revenue in R&D – $1 billion in the iGen3 production color platform and millions more in workflow and business development tools- we have earned a place as the digital leader in this industry.”

Mulcahy went on to reassure everyone that the Xerox and other digital companies were not in the process of taking over the industry. In her view the future offset printing will always have a strong. “The industry is moving toward a future where digital and offset technologies are working in tandem – supported by integrated workflow solutions.”

She forecast that printing was about to become a service industry, following the pattern of other industries suffering from an over capacity and falling prices.

“Printing is no longer a manufacturing process driven by the economy. It is a
service business driven by customers. Customers want to know … and these are real questions from real print providers:
How can the printed word defend its position against electronic media, especially the internet?
We recently lost business because millions of printed materials are now done online. How much more will the development of Information Technology threaten the printing industry?

The reality is that the rise of the web and the progression of Information
Technology are not a threat, but a growth driver for our industry. The sooner we understand that and get in action around it, the sooner we can
stop the spiral of consolidation and commoditization.

“Because the business model we inherited, the business model we brought with
us into the digital age, has caused printing to be called a textbook example of
a pure competition industry
.
Cost-based competition, a lack of price controls and undifferentiated offerings all
play a role. However if you look at what’s working in the printing industry, you’ll see some key building blocks of a new business model. Four of those building blocks are:

  • On-demand printing…
  • Digital color …
  • Value-added services and
  • Open workflow solutions.
  • “At Xerox, we see each one of these areas as a linchpin for the right business model. That’s reflected in where we’re putting our focus, and it’s reflected in the innovation our customers are showing in the marketplace.

    “Together we are moving away from the traditional manufacturing model where you crank out products based on the capabilities of your equipment and we are moving toward a Services model, where you employ digital technologies to deliver communications services that precisely meet the needs of your customers.

    “It’s a model that takes us from ‘mass marketing’ to ‘mass customization’ and from a paper-based world to a web-based world. This is the model that will be carried forth by the next generation of leaders and innovators in graphic communications.

    “And this is the model that will drive the development of next-generation
    technology, solutions and services. The change is happening now.”

    This is an edited transcript of Anne Mulcahy’s speech at the Xerox press conference at IPEX.

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