Xerox used its Premier Partner event in London on 4 October to outline its plans for expanded software and service offerings to complement and enhance its production print business.

The first such in-person event the company had been able to hold for three years, this year’s get-together was held under the theme ‘Now and Next’ and featured a remote address by new Xerox CEO Steve Bandrowczak, who said that he had visited nine US cities and a nine European, Asian and  North American countries recently and confirmed that the company’s commitment to its markets was ‘as strong as it’ll ever be’. In addition to recapping the company’s and his personal achievements before joining Xerox, he explained the key driver for further development:

‘We need to add digital services and insight to the production environment; [our customers] need a holistic view of their production environment.’ He went onto promise that Xerox would become more customer-centric, to help customers’ digital transformations. 

A key component in this strategy is Care AR, a suite of augmented reality software capabilities launched via an eponymous new company established in autumn 2021. Care AR is intended to ‘reinvent the service experience’ and was headed up by Mr Bandrowczak prior to the untimely death of previous Xerox chairman and CEO John Visentin. It also incorporates and consolidates the previously separate DocuShare content management and XMPie cross-media creation and management businesses.

Mr Bandrowczak confirmed that Xerox would continue to invest in production printing but also in artificial intelligence (AI); this will also be brought to bear in the production environment by building a database of problems and fixes to underpin remote support capabilities, in conjunction with AR, which he sees as being part of a technological solution to the ‘great resignation’ loss of skills in the print industry, a trend that is still apparent, though slowing. He collectively described these technologies and products as ‘the future’, along with the metaverse which he saw as a ‘$5 billion opportunity’, though reiterating that what happened ‘there’ would also manifest in the physical world.

Take CareAR

In a panel discussion on production print issues, Xerox’s Tracey Koziol, senior vice president, Global Offerings chief product officer revealed more about how the CareAR technology is being used to provide one-to-one help in the form of CareAR Assist, enabling some 10% of problems to be solved on the first contact and around 30% without resorting to an engineer visit. Unsurprisingly, Xerox sees this as having ‘huge’ applications outside print. The other component of the CareAR offering, Instruct, is aimed at explaining routine operation of Xerox equipment, from scanning on MFP devices to toner changes on copiers or digital presses, combining a knowledge base with a ‘digital twin’ of the device in question, allowing components to be highlighted and/or animated via tablet, phone or AR spectacles/goggles to show how to perform the required task.

In addition to helping users perform specific tasks, CareAR Assist is being piloted for predictive maintenance based on machine data. This will enable it to pre-empt premature part failures, ensure that the correct items are on-board when an in-person maintenance call is necessary and advise on upgrades or patches across a customer’s entire Xerox fleet while on-site. Dashboards and data analytics capabilities are also expected to be part of the software expansion. 

Although there don’t appear to be any acquisitions planned along the lines of the abandoned takeover of HP, Ms Koziol told Digital Printer that ‘We have to be vigilant about where the opportunities are’ and pointed to the purchase of Leicester-based Go Inspire this summer, noting that the company has ‘a good platform and a good analytics side’ and that it is ‘important to understand where the strengths are’ before ‘taking [them] global’. She also wouldn’t rule any more ambitious acquisitions, noting that further industry consolidation is expected and saying that Xerox is ‘bold’.

On the print hardware side, development in Xerox inkjet printheads and inks are continuing, along with integration with feeding and finishing equipment from third parties such as Plockmatic. The relevant high-end technologies from the Baltoro inkjet and iGen toner press lines will also be brought ‘down’ to the Iridesse and Versant toner presses.