Xerox Targets SMB With New Channel Partner Initiative

by Robert Palmer | 9/15/15

On September 9, Xerox announced a program that it says will provide channel partners the tools they need to increase customer penetration, expand deeper into document services, and maximize investment in Xerox printing devices. The initiative, called “Innovate to Grow,” is specifically designed to help Xerox and its partners carve out a larger share of overall customer spend among small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs).

The program provides channel partners with a set of tools and marketing resources, which Xerox says will demonstrate how to accelerate the sales cycle for its application builder tools, managed print services (MPS), and ConnectKey-enabled MFPs. “We believe we are empowering our partners with the tools and support they need to be able to help customers maximize their investment in Xerox assets,” explains Leah Quesada, VP of Marketing and Communications at Xerox. “Customers have already invested in Xerox products, but there is hidden potential with those assets in ways that we can help manage information.”

Essentially, Xerox is hoping to help its partners dive deeper into those customer pain points that extend beyond printing. The program provides tools that demonstrate how to use Xerox resources to build repeatable, automated, and customized workflows to address small business needs. Some of the tools available through the program include sales talk tracks, videos, marketing toolkits, competitive intelligence, and a Partner Solutions Playbook.

Xerox describes the Partner Solutions Playbook as an interactive library of real-world customer scenarios, showing ways to solve specific workflow problems with a step-by-step overview of possible solutions. “We also show the partner what type of technology and certification they might need as well as the revenue potential,” Quesada adds. “It is like a recipe book for them.” Xerox highlighted a few case study scenarios as part of the release announcing the Innovate to Grow initiative.

SMB: A Massive Opportunity

Like most vendors these days, Xerox is highly motivated to increase its penetration in the SMB space. The firm projects that small and medium-sized businesses will spend more than $40 billion on technology and document-related services this year in North America and Western Europe alone, with more than 75 percent of that revenue moving through indirect channels. This includes the purchase of 8 million new printers and the printing of 1 trillion pages.

These figures clearly demonstrate why the SMB segment plays so prominently in most OEM strategies today. “Success for Xerox and our partners is more than selling boxes, it’s about becoming a strategic partner and finding ways to improve their business processes,” said John Corley, president, Channel Partner Operations, Xerox, in a prepared statement. “At Xerox, it’s our mission to arm partners with the tools they need to better service their customers and uncover new revenue opportunities, and this initiative sparks innovation and helps drive growth.”

The “Innovate to Grow” initiative is available to U.S. and Western European partners immediately and is expected to roll out in other geographic regions in the fall.

For more on the Xerox’s “Innovate to Grow” initiative, see press release here.

Our Take

The “Innovate to Grow” initiative is yet another example of Xerox’s continued efforts to engage further and deeper with channel partners. Last July, the firm rolled out a series of programs and tools aimed at helping channel partners grow their MPS business in the SMB sector (see coverage here). Xerox’s ability to capitalize fully on the SMB opportunity depends on a channel that is actively engaged in and enabled to sell solutions and services that extend beyond the printed page.

There is significant business opportunity available to those vendors and providers that can solve the bigger problems associated with the fully connected office of the future. Xerox is well positioned to capitalize on this opportunity. It has a strong portfolio of products and solutions to addresses the most important elements of information management, and it has the technology resources and technical expertise to enable delivery of these services through an indirect channel.

At the same time, Xerox has developed an ecosystem built around the ConnectKey hardware platform that will enable SaaS-based service delivery models — which is what customers will want and the channel will require. Xerox believes there are multiple new partner-led business opportunities for the future, including areas such as remote device management, proactive service management, integrated IT services, and workflow optimization as a service.

Xerox’s latest announcement sits at the intersection of two of the most critical transition points in the office space: customers need help managing massive amounts of business-critical information, and dealers need to find alternative revenue streams to augment the business of print. For quite some time, we have been encouraging dealers to look closer at ways to leverage the network MFP as a gateway to driving improved digital workflow. At the same time, there is huge opportunity for those dealers that can leverage MPS as a springboard into other managed content services (MCS).

Xerox’s strategy also fits well with the requirements of an ever-changing MPS model. In order to differentiate and show value add, providers will need to demonstrate real benefits in areas that have little or nothing at all to do with reducing the cost of printing, such as providing better access to affordable color; driving process efficiencies; developing an integrated print, IT, and content strategy; and improving worker productivity.  With programs such as Xerox’s “Innovate to Grow” initiative, dealers can take steps to more easily migrate into advanced document solutions while mitigating the risks associated with developing the necessary skill sets and technology tools to go it alone.

Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Palmer has more than 25 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. Palmer is a popular speaker and he presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at robert@bpomedia.com.