Xerox went to drupa for the first time in 1995 with a 5,000 square foot booth. They were back in 2000 with an entire hall, albeit one located about a third of a mile from the rest of the fairgrounds. This year they will be "on campus" in Hall 13 with 40,000 square feet filled with new and existing products, interwoven with a focus on workflow solutions and business profitability for different sectors of the graphic arts market.

WTT managed to get a few minutes in the schedule of Gil Hatch, President of Xerox's Production Systems Group to get some insights into how Xerox is approaching drupa and the company's renewed focus on workflow and customer profitability.

WTT: Gil, last year you began telling your team in PSG to "Lead With Workflow." This is something of a different strategy for a company that has long "sold the box." Tell us why you have adopted this approach and how it reflects other changes in the way Xerox is approaching the market.

GH: The change in the way Xerox is approaching the market stems from how customers themselves are approaching and defining their businesses. The most successful print providers are not selling print as a commodity-they are instead selling application capabilities, faster turnarounds and better economics. We're speaking the language of the customer and helping them generate more revenue with our comprehensive approach to workflow under the FreeFlow initiative.

WTT: What types of workflow solutions are generating the most interest and greatest demand?

GH: We've actually been in the workflow business for a long time. We currently have over 50,000 implementations of FreeFlow components including VDP software (VIPP), DigiPath, and DocuSP. We continue to see more interest and demand for workflow offerings that consist of Xerox products, partner products, and services to help print providers get up and running with new applications.

JDF continues to be a workflow topic of interest and Xerox is delivering on customer demand for JDF with the FreeFlow Print Manager and several other new solutions that will be demonstrated at drupa. Two examples of workflow solutions that are generating a lot of interest and demand are the integration of offset and digital environments to capture short run revenues and cross media applications where print services providers manage integrated print and email direct mail campaigns.

WTT: Are you able to attribute any change or increase in what your customers are offering their customers due to the workflow tools provided in FreeFlow?

GH: FreeFlow enables print providers to extend their workflow to their customers and offer new value-added services. When our customers talk to their customers, they're spending a lot more time talking about high-value services instead of just print. FreeFlow has enabled the applications that are opening the doors to those new sources of revenue.

WTT: At On Demand, Xerox announced FreeFlow Print Manager, which is clearly an important step for Xerox and your strategic partner Creo. What was customer response to Print Manager at On Demand and how will you be emphasizing it at drupa?

GH: FreeFlow Print Manager is quite a significant development, and it results from Xerox's long-standing strategic partnership with Creo and our commitment to JDF. We've been hearing great feedback from commercial print providers. They were enthusiastic to see a hybrid workflow system that makes it easy to integrate digital printing into their offset environment. At drupa, we'll be taking the solution to the next level by showcasing an integrated, end to end, JDF workflow that starts at the creative desktop and flows through prepress to digital printing. This new capability will enable faster turnaround, greater efficiency, reduction in costs and increased accuracy. Better, faster, cheaper --now you can have all three!

WTT: You've made some changes in the Premier Partners program recently. Can you tell us a little about them, and how your customers have reacted?

GH: The program now is based on the vision of an advisory board. We're creating a global, cross-segmented community where graphic communication professionals can network and share information. And we're helping program members to improve customer relationships, introduce new applications and services, and grow their businesses.

The reaction from customers has been great, and we've seen the most interest in Xerox's central portal of business development tools. And resources.

WTT: Can you explain how the Premier Partners board works and how they help shape the way the program works?

GH: Sure. There are 11 Xerox customers-- from all segments of graphic arts --who serve as advisors to us and advocates for the program across the industry. The board shapes the way the program works by helping to identify specific industry needs and structure the Premier Partners program to meet them.

WTT: Isn't Xerox also making a big effort to help customers become more profitable? What are you doing to roll out the Profit Accelerator program to customers and what kinds of support are you offering to help customers take the best advantage of it?

GH: Since the announcement of Profit Accelerator in March at On Demand, Xerox has started delivering the program worldwide through a network of several hundred customer business development professionals. These professionals include Xerox sales and marketing managers, analysts, SmartPress Consultants and solutions development managers. Xerox will continue to add to Profit Accelerator and its other customer business development tools to educate customers on the benefits of digital printing and to help print executives best leverage their digital production equipment.

WTT: As we understand it, there are no major announcements (such as DocuColor iGen3) forthcoming at drupa. But we hear the larger focus is going to be on workflow and other services, software, tools and programs that help drive business growth and profitability. In addition to Premier Partners and Profit Accelerator, what are some of the other elements Xerox will be demonstrating and how will they help customers succeed?

GH: drupa 2004 gives us the opportunity to further enhance and reinforce The New Business of Printing message and will be the showcase for our new digital printers, workflow and solution offerings. We will announce several new printers and other products including a new addition based on the monochrome platform we announced in January. There might even be a new name. Of course, we've got a number of other announcements, but I don't want to spill the beans just yet.

But it goes beyond technology, Noel. Way beyond. We plan to show how Xerox customers are succeeding -- how a streamlined and efficient workflow is key to productivity--how the right equipment is essential to capturing healthy profits -- and, of course, how important it is to have a vendor partner to support and develop their business.

I think this will be a very different kind of drupa. It has to be. After all, printing is becoming a whole new industry.

WTT: Thanks for taking the time, Gil. As always, it's been a pleasure to talk with you.

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