Information Technology Outsourcing
June 13th, 2013
By Paul Wolf, director, Retail Services, IT Outsourcing, Xerox
When F. W. Woolworth opened the doors of his new-fangled retail store in 1878 in Utica, N.Y., he is said to have created an American business phenomenon. He simplified the retail experience for shoppers that continued as a mainstay for almost a century. In 1962, something called a big-box retailer opened its doors for the first time. It was a big Woolworth’s named Woolco. Shortly afterward, a newcomer named Walmart arrived on the scene.
These days, retail continues to change, adapt and cater to what shoppers want, but the pace is faster and the issues are complicated. There are numerous stores, store types and formats, distribution centers, suppliers, store employees and, yes, technologies upon technologies. Creating the “right” experience—garnering maximum impact–is the goal. Store-level performance is the key. When Cathy Hotka, a retail industry veteran, talked to executives of store-level operations, they lamented these issues. Within months, she came up with an idea and formed the Store Operations Council.
“Too often, we forget what is right in front of our faces. We take the store for granted,” said Hotka. “The council builds on the value and vitality of store-level operations—and what it means for long-term success” Since forming in 2012, approximately 76 senior-level store executives have gathered in small groups to listen, learn and build rapport.
Ultimately, says Hotka, the council is about the end-game: Making sure retailers succeed, long term, beginning at the store. She offers these four tips for retailers pursuing excellence.
The 4 D’s that Drive Retail Excellence
- Differentiation. For retailers, this means knowing how you—the retailer—are different from everyone else. Culture? Store design? Pricing strategy? Communications? Branding?
- Distinction. Show the differentiation. Drive the distinction to all your stakeholders, from executives to employees, to customers and community efforts.
- Deference. WIFFM rules. The “What’s In It For Me?” requires us to step back from our GroupThink and inquire—to defer our assumptions—among our constituents. What do employees perceive? What do the most loyal customers want and think vs. “walk throughs” store traffic? More research.
- Delivery. Act on what you now know, and avoid half measures. Be confident that your data proves your direction. Engage, commit, then evaluate.
Beginning on June 18, store operations experts will again meet and collaborate at the latest council meeting. Why? Simply put: “I can fish with a pole, or I can fish with a net, but a net takes more than one person. By working together, the catch is always bigger and better.”
February 12th, 2013
By Wayne Scalf, president, Retail IT Solutions, Xerox
Weeks later, I’m still inspired. There I sat, one of hundreds at the keynote speech of The National Retail Federation’s 102nd Annual Convention and Expo in New York. At the lectern was Wal-Mart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon.
In part, he said:
“At the heart of our national conversation today is one issue: creating jobs to grow the economy…fixing this problem will take all of us our part – business, government, labor, nonprofits and private citizens. And the retail industry has to lead.”
“The beauty of the private sector is that we don’t have to win an election, convince Congress, or pass a bill to do what we think is right. We can simply move forward…doing what we know how to do…growing our business.”
He added that now is the time for retailers and suppliers to make the economy grow and go. He mentioned that Wal-Mart U.S. is committing to buying $50 billion in U.S. products during the next 10 years. Bottom line, retail matters.
What I gleaned from this year’s show was vast. Topics and technologies whizzed at galactic speed, yet two themes emerged: mobility and partnership.
The biggest buzz at the show centered on the mobile revolution and its impact on how consumers seek and shop, in real-time, right now, in your store, comparing prices and quality with the other retailer just around the corner. The rush is on for retailers to effectively leverage mobility for loyalty and sales—being able to greet a specific customer with a specific offer the minute he or she hits your store’s front door. And of course, there was a focus on store-level and chain-wide mobile device management. It was good to hear since mobility is a Xerox specialty as well, where we’re helping companies conduct and manage their business from anywhere – using their mobile devices. We’re ensuring they have the right devices for the job, they have the right ‘apps’ and that they have access to their information.
Ultimately, we left the show with sore feet and heavy eyes. But we also had smiles on our faces. We were proud to share the IT side of Xerox, and to show the agnostic nature of what we do.
This year, NRF was more than a show. And while it is always an annual pilgrimage of the world’s finest retailers and its ecosystem of technology providers, I was proud to see Xerox cloud services standing in the middle of the hall demonstrating real solutions to real retail problems. Our position as problem solvers really resonated. We listened and responded, be it conversation about field services, mobility management, how to leverage the cloud or why telecom outsourcing is smart.
The show is past. But like Simon said, the best is yet to come.
January 31st, 2013
By Kevin Kyser, chief operating officer, Information Technology Outsourcing , Xerox Services
Food and restaurant analysts have pin-pointed a number of growing industry trends in 2013 – many of which I can really sink my teeth into. Among them: a wider array or portable food, vending machines that churn out everything from hot pizza to fresh cupcakes, and dining counters where customers can watch chefs cook and chat with them while they eat.
But there’s another trend shaping the industry – and “trend” might be putting it lightly, it’s more of a technological revolution. Remember when a restaurant or other retail outlet could get by with a few cash registers and a phone line? Those days are long behind us. Today the technology revolution is being fueled by mobility, automation and the need to deliver fast, convenient service options that keep customers coming back for more. But while mobile devices and applications, new payment devices and numerous displays and customer facing systems can fuel loyalty and sales, they add to the complexity of running a business.
We’re helping McDonald’s simplify that complexity. We recently assumed the operation and management of RTS from McDonald’s Corporation. RTS provides service desk support through more than 600 employees who assist more than 17,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S., UK, Ireland and China. With our behind-the-scenes support, McDonald’s and its independent owner-operators in those countries can focus on their customers while we resolve technical issues related to point-of-sale equipment, kitchen video devices, and “cashless” credit card processing devices.
It’s an exciting addition to our retail services portfolio, and a great way for McDonald’s to concentrate on its core business of serving its customers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish my McRib.
While Kevin may be the COO of Xerox’s ITO group, he also has three sons and knows firsthand the importance of keeping the target audience happy.
November 14th, 2012
By Ken Stephens, senior vice president, Xerox Cloud Services
The Society for Information Management (SIM) recently released findings from its annual CIO survey that indicate CIOs around the world plan to commit more of their budgets on IT outsourcing in 2013 to boost productivity and reduce costs. Not surprisingly, cloud computing was cited as a top application in 2012 and I expect that to be the case next year as well.
When I speak with CIOs and IT managers many are still surprised that Xerox has been a player in the business cloud for years. But as the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management, we’ve always contended that the cloud is an integral piece of simplifying the way work gets done – offering on-demand technology that’s scalable, affordable and can be accessed anywhere, anytime.
So as the calendar turns let’s look at key cloud trends and opportunities in 2013:
- Cloud jobs are booming, but how do companies attract the right talent to capitalize on the opportunities? Because the cloud is still an emerging force, it’s not always necessary that a candidate have cloud experience. But it is critical that employees are able to deliver client solutions in weeks, not months, and are adept at turning a service into a sellable product. At Xerox our focus is on growing our bench of cloud service experts organically rather than through recruitment.
- The next frontier for cloud services is deeper penetration into specific industries, specifically hyper-competitive markets such as retail and hospitality. We’ve seen the benefits of cloud solutions in large enterprises and increasingly in SMB environments. But there’s also great opportunity for industry-specific solutions such as help desk or telecom expense management services for retail, where profit margins can be razor thin.
- Data analytics driven by cloud services. As businesses increasingly operate in more locations nationally and globally, cloud services allow them to make sense of all the customer and operational information at their disposal. Xerox is adept at leveraging big data, and bringing that data analytics power to clients in a cloud services-based package is a major growth opportunity for the industry.
What other cloud developments do you see in 2013?
Ken knows “the cloud” is everywhere these days, but is focused on making cloud services simple to understand and implement for IT professionals.
July 23rd, 2012
By Mark Talbot, group president, Americas – Xerox Local Government
The city of Riverside, Calif. is an inspiration for us and its peers as it makes providing access to technology to all citizens a priority second to none.
Riverside was named this past June, Intelligent Community of the Year by the Intelligent Community Forum – the first U.S. city to receive this recognition in 10 years. The programs involved in the SmartRiverside’s Digital Inclusion Center contributed to the city’s recognition. The strategy is to use its citywide Wi-Fi service to provide free technology training, personal computers, software, wireless computer premise equipment, and broadband Internet service to all of the City’s more than 30,000 families earning less than $45,000 total income. The goal is to benefit 1,500 families every year.
This article in Government Technology details many of the successes of SmartRiverside, including:
- A gang intervention program that mentors kids, prepares them for work in business settings and provides certification for entry-level service technician jobs.
- A program to refurbish computers (200 a month) and train students, parents and other adults. At the end of the training, each family receives a free working PC with Microsoft Office, a Wi-Fi router and free wireless access. Two of the students who have completed this program currently work for Xerox.
- A free 1 Mbps free wireless service that has brought more than 5,400 low-income families onto the Internet since early 2010.
As the city’s IT provider, we’re looking forward to continuing to work with Riverside and CIO Steve Reneker on the journey to make intelligent technology available to all citizens.
October 20th, 2011
By Laurie Riedman
So I’m not surprised that Xerox received a Software category Technology Innovation award this week from the Wall Street Journal for some really cool technology called Virtual Help Desk.
Help is sort of a swear word for me (or at least I find myself swearing a lot when I use it). You see, I’m the self-sufficient type. I’m also a tad technically challenged. It’s a combustible combination.
On top of that – I’m an independent consultant that works from a home office. For me time is money, so when a printer, computer or other techno device stops working, I really don’t have time to flip through my printer manual for technical instructions. I resort to hitting the reset button way too many times, and praying the device will eventually come to its senses. H-E-L-P! Sound familiar?
According to ethnographers at Xerox this scenario is common. They studied the way customers respond to printer issues and found that what we really need — is real time help. A person – not a manual – to guide us through the steps we need to take – right then and there.
Virtual Help Desk does just that.
So hats off to the team of really smart researchers from the Xerox Research Centre Europe who created this cool Web-based 3D virtual reality tool. Virtual Help Desk gives Xerox customers like me instant access to live support for their printer or multifunction device – while I’m standing at the printer.
Here is how works:
Let’s say the document I need to pick up isn’t printing. Rather than freaking out like I would normally do – using Virtual Help desk – I can calmly (notice the word calmly) press the ‘Help’ button once (notice the word once) and I will be automatically connected via a call to the support desk. As the agent accepts the incoming call, the system uploads a 3D model of the printer while gathering and displaying data on the status of the machine. The system simultaneously uploads the same 3D model on the screen in front of me so I can see exactly what the help desk agent is suggesting I do. In moments, I’m having a real-time multimedia conversation and can address the problem right then and there.
So, it’s understandable that the panel of esteemed technology gurus at the Wall Street Journal gave this team the prize! Not only does the Virtual Help Desk promise to ease customer frustration and shorten customer care calls – more importantly — for customers like me – it gives me the freedom to focus on my real business..
August 16th, 2011
If you don’t think there’s a lot of email flying around these days, consider this: In the time it takes you to read this sentence, some 20 million emails entered cyberspace.
Now take a good look at your inbox. As businesspeople, we’re sending or receiving a total of 105 emails a day. While you’re quickly trying to figure out if you’re above or below average (I’m unfortunately way above average), know that one thing is certain—most of us don’t worry much about how our email gets to its destination, we just want to make sure it does.
But managing complex email systems isn’t easy, especially if you’re a government agency facing an ever- tightening budget belt and increasing pressure to streamline operations.
That’s one reason the state of Florida turned to ACS, A Xerox Company to develop and manage a statewide email system. The state says it will eventually save $15 million by consolidating more than 30 separate state email systems into a single solution that will improve communication, reduce costs and give state employees more freedom to focus on citizen service instead of redundant administrative tasks.
And when it comes to email, government agencies have special security and compliance needs and the solution we’re helping Florida with will make sure those requirements are met.
Because we have a deep understanding of how government agencies work is a key to why ACS is the one of the largest providers of services to the public sector. As our clients’ needs change we’re able to help them find ways to meet new challenges and transform operations, just as we’ll do in Florida.
You can learn more about our solution at
http://www.acs-inc.com/government-it-services/enterprise-email-services.aspx, and after that, it’s OK to go back to checking your email.