December 20, 2002 -- (special reporting and analysis by Noel Ward, [email protected]
, WhatTheyThink.com) -- Pundits will no doubt seize on the latest round of upper management changes at Xerox as re-arranging the desk chairs, but there may be more to the new assignments than appears at first glance. While the people changing offices and assuming new roles are long-time Xerox employees, they bring a wealth of experience and perspective that could begin redefining the way the company addresses its markets. And that will hopefully be reflected in the company's performance over the coming year. More on that in a moment.
Beginning close to the top, a new division called Business Group Operations will be headed by Ursula Burns who will continue reporting to President and CEO Anne Mulcahy. Within the new group are Production Systems and a redefined Office Group.
The Production Systems Group (PSG) will now be headed by Gil Hatch, who comes in on the heels of Anshoo Gupta, who is retiring. Hatch was president of the Office Systems Group since 1999, following several senior technical and management positions in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. His new bailiwick includes the monochrome products, production color, platform development, and the integrated marketing & solutions organization. An office guy coming over to lead Production Systems: Hold that thought.
Frank Steenburgh, fresh from the successful launch of the iGen3, will be leading the Production Color Solutions Business, which means anything that prints full-color pages at 40 pages-per-minute or faster. In addition to getting products ready for market, Frank's mission is to consolidate go-to-market strategies and offerings across the production-class DocuColor product lines. Executives who understand both color and office needs working together on product and go-to-market: Sounds like a plan is in the works.
With Gil Hatch moving up, Jim Miller will now lead a newly consolidated Office Group which combines the former Office Systems Group and the Office Printing Business Group. The consolidation provides a single reach into this market segment and represents an opportunity for better integrating product development and acquisition, supply chain management, marketing strategies, and distribution channels. Miller's group will consist of the solid ink, office color, and office monochrome businesses and the office controller development unit. This is not new territory to Miller, who was previously president of Xerox's Office Printing Business (formerly Tektronix) , and before that headed up the company's SOHO business and has further experience in supplies and reprographics. A single office-focused group with some top-notch products run by someone who understands how that market works: The other players in this space may want to keep their eyes open.
Moving the two product halves of the company--Production and Office--much closer together make sense. This is the important point. Xerox has often had the equipment and technology, but sometimes it seemed as if the two sides of the company didn't always communicate very well, and marketing messages were often diluted. More importantly, though, the ongoing convergence of office and production printing means Xerox needs to be better positioned to bring products to market that address the demands of different types of customers and to reach them through the most appropriate channels.
With the experience this mix of players brings to the party, we could see some changes that help Xerox be more competitive in both production and office markets. Stay tuned.