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article imageXerox: The Icon of Innovation

By Christopher Hogg     Feb 28, 2006 in Business
Digital Journal — As a child, Donna Wittmann wanted to be an executive secretary when she grew up. But today, she’s the vice-president of small and medium business for Xerox’s North American operations.
Helping lead a company like Xerox is no small feat. Wittmann says a big challenge is rebranding so customers realize Xerox does more than, well, “Xerox.”
More than 90 per cent of Xerox’s revenues come from multi-function units and printers that are network-ready, notes Wittmann. “Stand-alone copiers are becoming less and less prevalent,” she says. “Xerox is growing to be more printer-based, solutions-based and service-based.”
A former accountant (she worked at Ernst and Young for two years), Wittmann joined Xerox 15 years ago. Watching the company evolve, she has helped lead Xerox to 50 per cent growth over the last three years.
Xerox is accustomed to success. Founded in 1906 as The Haloid Company in Rochester, New York, the company has become a strong player buoyed by a reliable brand.
But 100 years of experience doesn’t always make business a smooth ride. As Xerox has found, many people view the company as a premium brand. Translation: The technology is too expensive.
“What we’ve done is keep the quality of our product, but bring down the price points to what small- and medium-sized businesses can afford,” says Wittmann.
Xerox’s acquisition of Tektronix’s colour printing and imaging division for $925 million in 2000 allowed the company to bring down the price of colour printers to a level impossible before.
With new solid-ink technology, Xerox overhauled its product portfolio and began offering colour printers that printed at higher speeds, also cutting cost and technical problems for the business owner.
According to Xerox’s research, colour printing can drastically increase a company’s overall returns. For example, a medium-sized company that uses colour on billing will receive payments faster and with greater accuracy. “Xerox has done a tremendous amount of work studying people and how they use products,” says Wittmann.
For decades, printers were dumb machines — they performed simple tasks when told to do so by computers. Today, Xerox spends millions on R&D to integrate intelligent features into its products. New Xerox printers will automatically send reminder emails when ink is low, or order a service call if something breaks down. Also, new multi-function devices can scan documents into archived directories, allowing anyone to find, share and use information.
Research shows that 20 per cent of a worker’s time is spent looking for documents, and half that time, they can’t find what they’re looking for. Wittmann wants that to change: “Xerox is working to help people to use technology for smarter document management, which always translates into a more productive and profitable workplace.”

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