Indian Cos Provide Terrific Support

Apr 01, 2007 — Economic Times (April 1, 2007) The $15.9-billion Xerox Corporation has enjoyed an iconic status among users around the world with its cutting edge research and innovative products. Its chairman and CEO Anne M Mulcahy, who made her maiden visit to India this week, is the second most powerful business woman in the world (as ranked by Fortune; Forbes ranked her as fifth most powerful in 2006). And that's not without good reasons. Mulcahy is the first woman CEO in Xerox's history and its first woman at the helm. Her skill in turning around the deeply-troubled copying and printing giant is well acknowledged. The post-internet era saw the company slide and was just a pale shadow of its past glory. Since then it has been a tough task to bring Xerox back on track. She ordered a restructuring that cut annual expenses by $1.7 billion, slashed 25,000 jobs, and sold $2.3 billion worth of non-core assets to reduce Xerox's long-term debt. The 55-year-old English and journalism graduate from Marymount College joined Xerox back in 1976 as a field sales representative. The only daughter in a family with four boys, Mulcahy was encouraged by her parents to compete equally with her brothers. This upbringing taught her not only to handle criticism but to listen to it – an ability that has helped her make difficult decisions. Qualities that prompted the Xerox board to select her as the CEO included straightforwardness, hardwork, discipline and fierce loyalty to Xerox – the company, the brand, and the people. In an exclusive interview on the Xerox turnaround, technology trends that will impact businesses, India strategy, future of printing and that of the company itself.

Excerpts: Xerox has quite a few outsourcing arrangements with vendors here. Are you reviewing them or planning to set up your own captive unit in India?
Certainly not in the near term. We think that we have great access to some first class local Indian firms that provide terrific support for us. So I think it is actually been a great fit for our services business. That doesn't mean that we won't invest in other areas. But I think that trying to replicate or duplicate what we think is world class set of competencies is probably not first on our list, both in terms of investments or things to do.

The kind of research that Xerox has been associated in the past is not to be seen now. Why?
That is not true. We have a portfolio of over 50,000 patents and 8,100 active patents. About 6% of our revenues go into research. We are doing a lot of research in new areas like smart document management and how to manage information contained in documents more efficiently. I think we are on a very positive trajectory. If you talk to our clients today I think that we added tremendous value to our clients. The feedback from them is that not only is Xerox back but it is actually focussed on opportunities that are really enhancing our customers' ability to manage their document infrastructure much more efficiently. So I think that we are definitely on the upswing.

What are some of the big technology trends that you see? Personalisation is absolutely necessary in communication. And I am not talking about names and addresses, it's content personalisation. It is really understanding the data and the information that people have about their customers and using that to drive much more efficient communications and interactions with customers. That's huge. Colour represents a third of our revenues today. It is another emerging opportunity here and I think that we can drive colour adoption at a faster rate. And then obviously services. Services that are driving document management and smart document technologies that make businesses more efficient. We think those trends are really compelling and certainly where we are placing our bets for lot of growth in the future.