drupa 2012 promises to be one of the most exciting drupas in years as the printing industry starts to climb out of a trough that has been a challenge for vendors and service provides alike. We checked in with Xerox’ Jeff Jacobson to see what the company has planned for the show—and beyond, as Jacobson settles into his new role there. Xerox has a 25,000 square foot stand at the show (Hall 8B, Stand A62), where it plans to show the full breadth of its technology products. Underscoring the ongoing importance of the graphic arts industry to the company’s success, CEO Ursula Burns will be at the company’s press conference, scheduled for 2:30 PM local time on May 3rd, the first day of the show.

WTT: Jeff, now that you have been at Xerox for almost three months, what has been your experience so far?

JJ: It’s been a great experience, and in a positive sense, it feels like I have been here for years. I have been able to get myself indoctrinated into the organization and the culture, and the team has been amazingly receptive. My first task is to get to know the people and the organization, understand the portfolio and the culture, and then to begin to put my own stamp on the culture. What has been most rewarding, besides getting to know the team, is spending at least one day a week touching customers. I have learned a lot about the company from its customers.

WTT: In terms of the culture, what do you see as changes that need to be made?

JJ: Most importantly, there should be no more than four levels between me and the customer, starting with the field sales rep, sales manager, regional manager and then me. We are already starting to see the benefits of that strategy. One customer I met with recently said it was the best meeting he had had with Xerox in years based on the decision-making we were able to get accomplished in one four-hour meeting.

WTT: Turning to drupa, Xerox has quite a large stand at 25,000 square feet. What can we expect to see there?

JJ: We will be showing the full breadth of our production portfolio in conversation stations dedicated to specific applications, including books/manuals, packaging, transactional marketing, digital offset, quick printing and photo publishing. Of course, we will be showing CiPress and our iGen portfolio, as well as our workflow solutions and finishing capabilities. And to help tell our story and add some fun, Cirque de Soleil will be performing in the booth three times a day. My hope is to spend as much time with customers as possible while I am there.

WTT: It’s shaping up to be an exciting show, but afterwards, we go back to business, and then what?

JJ: I have already told the team that not only are we immediately beginning planning for drupa 2016, but that IPEX in 2014 will be a gate for us as well. From an organizational perspective, we will focus on geographically restructuring the way we manage customer accounts, making the relationship as transparent as possible to customers. From companies like RR Donnelley and Quad/Graphics to $6 million printers and start-ups, we need to have a good grasp on the best way to take our portfolio to them and make sure we touch all of these customers.

WTT: What key challenges do you see?

JJ: Perhaps the greatest personal challenge for me has been learning the vast library of Xerox acronyms! In all seriousness the biggest challenge is building an organization with a singular graphics focus and having it up to speed as quickly as possible. My goal is to have everything where I want it to be by the beginning of 2013, with the vast majority of the changes accomplished this year.

WTT: Do you plan to hire from the outside?

JJ: We have great resources here. There is no question we want to sprinkle in people who have spent their life in the commercial print arena. You know our sales force; the people who have sold for a good number of years to commercial print understand the language. There are two entirely different conversations between commercial print and the enterprise.

But we also need specialists who have the relationships with large commercial printers. I see that as one of the greatest opportunities. Our penetration in that segment is not as great as I would have thought it was. Of course, we do business with a lot of larger printers, but there are still a number of printers with revenues in the tens of millions where we have room to penetrate. I see that as a tremendous opportunity for us, considering that of the trillions of printed pages, only about 2% are pure digital today. The world is our oyster; there is so much room to grow and still a lot of great companies we don’t have relationships with today.

WTT: Xerox has had a strong partner program; do you still plan to pursue that?

JJ: Of course. Partners are important in being able to develop an end-to-end portfolio, as well as for our go-to-market strategy. We have always had a large direct sales force and our own channels such as Global Imaging, and our channel partners. We are also looking for where we can supplement our customer reach with graphic arts dealers around the world. That hasn’t been an area Xerox has really focused on in a pure graphic communications environment.

WTT: What about the objection that some commercial printers have historically had, that Xerox competes with them?

JJ: I have been with a lot of customers and I haven’t heard that once yet. We do have a group that sells managed print services into large enterprises, but these are typically large corporations that have thousands of office printers and we manage those fleets for them. That does not fall into the commercial print arena.

WTT: What about packaging? Do you still see any focus there?

JJ: Packaging is a huge market and everyone wants to get there. We have it on our radar. Packaging requires a focused strategy and portfolio, and a different go-to-market strategy than commercial print.

That being said, anyone that ignores this market is making a mistake. I don’t plan on making that mistake. We will be broadening our strategy over time in that arena.

WTT: What are you most looking forward to?

JJ: I am feeling so great about where we are now. When I look at the prospects and opportunities ahead of us- our product portfolio, increasing our reach in commercial print, the number of pages that are going digital - it is a tremendous opportunity.

To me work is like a hobby—you have to love what you do. I am having a great time running this business.