What factors led to the 50% rise in Xerox Emirates' channel partner business in 2014?
We approach the market at two primary segments: launch enterprises and SMEs. It's very difficult for a company to cover the SME segment, which in many markets generally represents 40-50% of the market value for IT and the area that we are in. You need to find a way to get your product to this market. Our current channel strategy is the result of us understanding where customers choose to buy. Many SME customers choose to buy from channel partners, so it was a logical choice for us to try to create a robust channel strategy again. In doing this, we created a good value proposition. Our strategy was not to over distribute, but to make sure we cover the market. That program rolled out in mid-2013 and we made good progress in that year. In 2014, the growth was a fairly decent number, so we were happy with that. Apart from the value proposition, clearly the market is more active than it was a few years ago. I'd say that the period after the crisis in 2008 and 2009, a lot of capital purchases were put off, so now there is a certain amount of reaping the reward of customers being careful. That has obviously given us an opportunity. We are far from being where we would like to be in terms of market reach, so I think there is plenty of similar growth in the coming years.
What are your plans for the expansion of these partnerships?
It's expansion of the partners that we have. If you are not going to have a policy of over-distribution, then you want to focus your expansion on the quality of the partners. We would be looking to invest in the existing partners and helping them to grow. The only ingredient you need to make that strategy successful is an aligned, mutual benefit. They have to want to grow so that there is no misalignment. That is often what happens in channel strategies that go wrong; there is a difference in the ambition of the partners versus the vendor. So, inevitably, when you want to grow, your partner might have a different agenda. Aligned partners are very important and they are not that difficult to find, but we have been very selective about choosing our partners.
What opportunities are there for continued growth?
There are opportunities everywhere. The evolution of our value proposition to customers has changed dramatically in the last five years and we are now offering a lot of services, mainly around document work flows and so on. Obviously, we have our traditional technology business as well. The role of a multi-functional device in customers is changing dramatically as well. It's not just a printer; it's also a portal to the digital world. I think this is still early days, but it's definitely a trend that's developing. In the context of pure document management and work flows, we are offering “next generation managed print services," which is adding applications and process streamlining to help customers not just print less, but also have smarter work processes. As a result of the acquisition of ACS five years ago, a business process outsourcing company, we've developed quite a broad range of services. One extreme will be transportation solutions, where we are doing towing systems and smart parking. For smart city initiatives, there is something we are working on to provide clever technology to improve the mall so that people can drive around less to find a parking space. Mobile devices will allow them to see where parking spaces are. In the Dubai Mall there is an archaic light system, but you need directions to tell you how to get there. There's also on- and off-street parking management. That goes even to large complexes where security needs to manage the flow of vehicles and the access of vehicles into large complexes, like construction sites or huge hotels. There are many solutions there. In the US, we are processing parking fines, speeding fines, and similar car incidents. We also have solutions for banking, HR, and insurance.