Anything But A Photocopier


Feb 17, 2009 -- Print and Publishing (February 2009)

What does a brand do when the category it so steadfastly represents; its raison d’etre is all but gone and it is haunted by ghosts of the past—say a 2002 investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for misreporting earnings to the tune of $1.5 billion, although that happened a long time ago and did not concern the Indian outfit, directly?

To exorcise those ghosts and more, you do what Xerox India, a 100% subsidiary of Fortune 500 company Xerox Corp, is doing—up-sell yourself from a photocopier (a dying technology) to an end-to-end document manager focused primarily on the enterprise market, given that the cost-sensitive small and medium business (SMB) sector is already with competition HP and Canon.

Sounds ambitious? You could say that, except that when you begin to look at the way digital printing market has been shaping up in India, you realise that nearly two-thirds of Xerox’s equipment revenue (the company refuses to divulge exact figures) is currently coming from products and technologies that were introduced in India in just the past two years. A case in point is Xerox’s flagship iGen3, a hi-definition digital press that is capable of outputting over 10 lakh impressions per month, at a speed of 6,600 four colour A4 impressions per hour. The result? Shorter print runs and higher productivity for digital print professionals.

“Even in the case of low-end products, a sizeable chunk of our revenue is coming from technologies that were launched 12 to 18 months ago,” reveals Vipin Tuteja, executive director, Production Systems Group (PSG), and head, integrated marketing, and SAO (South Asian Organisations), Xerox India.

Globally, the company introduced a 100-odd products in three years and doubled the global R&D spend on software and services in 2008—under a new business group called Xerox Global Services (XGS)—from 2%-3% a decade ago to the present 4%-6%. Experts contend that it was the low spend on technology that was primarily responsible for Xerox’s complete decimation in the category.

However, conditions have vastly improved between then and now, especially, in this side of the world. According to statistics available with Xerox, the digital print market is poised for a 9.5% growth between 2005 and 2010. The total print market in India that was valued at $12.6 billion in 2006, is forecast to grow to $25.1 billion in 2012 (at a compound annual growth rate or CAGR) of 12.2% between 2007 and 2012.

In terms of print quality as well there is a sea change. This is evident in the slick output of newspapers, books, catalogues, packaging products and coffee-table books that you currently see on the stands. Throw in the market for equipment and other consumables and the total market was valued at $13.5 billion in 2006; forecasted to grow to $27.2 billion in 2012.

Of this, digital printing—Xerox’s mainstay—was estimated at $38.7 million in 2006 and is forecast to touch $177.3 million in 2012 (at a CAGR of 8.2% between 2005 and 2010).

A major driver for this is the new craze for personalised print jobs, print-on-demand and shorter run lengths demanded by banks, telecom service providers, insurance companies, retailers, manufacturers and graphic arts businesses.

Add to it variable printing, that you see on personalised stationary, calendars, mobile phone bills etc embossed with individual photos, hand-scribbled (look-like) personal messages etc, and you begin to appreciate tremendous opportunities that it throws for one-to-one marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), direct mailers, sequential numbering, security identity solutions, ticketing, and itemised billing. These days, there are vendors such as Seshasai (Mumbai), Repro India (Mumbai) and Perfact Digital Print (Delhi), that specialise in variable printing on technology patented by Xerox.

“Our research has shown that when a person’s name is put on a printed page, the response rate goes up by 44%. And when this is done in colour, the response goes up by almost 135%,” says Tuteja.

Earlier, only busienss cards came personalised. Today, the callender at your work station, a New Year greeting card from the CEO of a top company, stationary that’s part of a direct-mail campaign, anything is possible with digital printing at the lowest imaginable cost and in the shortest possible time.

Calling it the new business of printing, he explains that globally, the full-colour variable data printing (VDP) market grew almost 250% between 2004 and 2007. Now you know why a collegue jumped in ecstacy when she received an organiser with her photo embossed on every page!

In addition, “a sudden spurt in the self-publishing industry has given a leg up to short-run, print-on-demand jobs with zero inventory, in the process saving tremendous cost for the author, printer and other stake-holders,” says Tuteja.

Responding to these trends, Xerox currently operates three business groups in India—New Office Group (NOG), that continues to push printers and multi-function devices (MFD) with the tag line “color everywhere; color at the price of B&W”; PSG that’s into digital printing (“Think digital. Think Xerox…”); and the company’s newest baby

Xerox Global Services (XGS), an after-sales division that helps clients in setting new document management policies, leveraging work flow systems and updating their storage, archival and retrieval systems (“Total end-to-end document solution provider.”).

Claiming that together, these steps can help clients save 20%-40% in cost reduction, Tuteja says, “We are no more focused on pushing boxes. We are also servicing clients in a big way. We help them decide exactly what information they intend to capture on a printed page. It gives us an opportunity to cross-sell and up sell our technology.”

Although it’s difficult to quantify Xerox’s individual growth in these three business streams, the company estimates that the CAGR for both printers and multifunction devices MFDs is about 20% for enterprise and 25% for the SMB sector. The NOG that caters mainly to the SMB segment grew from 6% to 10% in the past three years with growing digitalising in banking, telecom, insurance and education sectors.

In the enterprise segment (XGS), Xerox has signed up 70-odd clients, namely Nokia, Microsoft, Boeing, HSBC and Sun Microsystems, to name a few. Claiming to be a leader in this space, the company conceded to pumping Rs 20 crore in marketing in 2008 and pledges to make similar investments in above- and below-the-line activities for 2009 as well. The company unveiled a new logo last year, designed by Interbrand, a New York city-based consultancy under the buzzline “Make Every Connection Matter.” Intrabrand has serviced clients such as BMW, AIG Life, Cadbury Schweppes, Holiday Inn, McDonald’s etc in the past.

Although there are no immediate plans of rolling out exclusive brand stores for Xerox or venture too aggressively in tier-I and tier-II cites, where there is a lot of unmet demand for smaller printers, the company has nonetheless begun to set its record straight with some in-selling.

“Rise again…” is the soulful video that plays out for employees and visitors at Xerox’s reception counter on the top storey of DLF Square, Jacaranda Marg in Gurgaon, near Delhi. BW Up, close and personal

Personalised digital printing is finding innovative applications in:

Marketing/sales
  • Brochures
  • Catalogues
  • Direct mail
  • Inserts
  • Flyers
  • Web content
Operations
  • Product literature
  • Operations manuals
  • Invoices/statements
  • Bills
Human resources
  • Curriculum/ training materials
  • Recruitment
  • Brochures
  • Benefit booklets
  • Policy manuals
Publishing
  • Short-run print on demand books, catalogues, brochures
  • Backlist
  • “Never out of Print” inventory management
  • Textbook adoptions