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The Reinvention of Xerox and What It Means for Outsourcing

by Kerry Hallard, CEO at National Outsourcing Association

Xerox has undergone an impressive transformation over the past several decades. During its 77 years of business, the company has expanded from a manufacturer of printing equipment into a corporate leader spanning a number of industries. What’s more, in terms of strategy, attitude and culture, Xerox has become the epitome of what it means to be a great outsourcer.

Time and time again, Xerox has demonstrated that it’s not scared of change when it’s necessary for business. In 2009, the company acquired Affiliated Computer Services for $6.4 billion. It was a bold move that made the intentions of Xerox executives clear – they had taken their first step towards becoming a business processing powerhouse. More recently, in December 2014, Xerox announced its intention to sell its IT outsourcing, originally acquired through the purchase of ACS, for $1.05 billion.

Why did Xerox do this? Because the organisation is keen on growth, but simultaneously understands the need to focus on core activities. Xerox operates under the mantra: ‘focus on what you do best and outsource the rest’ - a highly effective business model.

What’s more, this commitment to focus has allowed Xerox to make exciting progress in the field of business processing: on 5th February, Xerox announced its new Mobility Analytics Platform which will process and visualise commuter data. This software will facilitate smart data-based decisions, improving services in the transport sector. And that’s just one of their new business processing innovations.

Recently, the president of Xerox Services Robert Zapfel spoke on the subject of automated processes potentially replacing agents in the near future, which has been concerning buyers and sellers of outsourcing alike. His answer was pragmatic: ‘at the core, when you’re in the services industry, you have to cannibalise yourself. If you don’t, someone else will cannibalise you.’ It’s vital to streamline your own business and ensure it operates at optimum efficiency. If you don’t, someone else will do so before long, and at that point your business will lose out as a result.

Xerox’s president, Andrew Morrison, had a more concise message: ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ Every company involved in outsourcing must pay heed to these words. Strategy is nothing without the correct company culture backing it – this goes for both your own organisation and those that you outsource to.

So what’s the point of this piece, from an outsourcing perspective? Xerox is getting it right. The company is both pioneer and paragon – leading positive change in outsourcing, and acting as a prime example to all those who seek value from their outsourcing contracts. The following graphic describes our take on what Xerox currently stands for:

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