Xerox will continue to revolutionise digital print in India and the world

Balaji Rajagopalan, executive director of technology, channels and international distributor operations, Xerox India talks to Sriraam Selvam about his company’s success and the future of digital printing in India.

06 Jan 2017 | By Sriraam Selvam

PrintWeek India (PWI): What’s been your proudest achievement during Drupa and PrintExpo in 2016?
Balaji Rajagopalan (BR): Apart from the usual in terms of sales and targets, I think our efforts to host 15 partners as part of the winning team at Drupa is a proud moment. This helped them add to their skills and pick up knowledge on all the latest Xerox technologies.
Also, there is constant talk of orders signed vs executed. I can proudly tell you that all the orders that we signed have been executed. This includes a number of Nuevera, Versant 80/2100 and C60/C70.

PrintExpo has served us as a great platform in the South India region which continues to contribute over 33% to Xerox India business. We have been associated with PrintExpo since its inception eight years ago! We showcased a wide range of high-powered digital presses including Xerox Versant™ 2100 Digital Press, Xerox Color C70, Xerox Versant 80 and Xerox Wide Format 6705 among other products– complete with demo runs and presentations. We also displayed booklets and other samples that brought out the unique and quality colour printing and efficient production aspects of these machines.

The printing of Aadhar card using the iGen is something that I am personally proud of. Almost 35-40% of all Aadhar cards have been printed on our equipment.

PWI: As per the IDC Report for Q1 and Q4 for 2015, Xerox India is number one. What did your team do differently?
BR: I think most essentially our entire team rallied behind our new product line including the Versant series and the Color Press 1000i.

We have also been able to identify new applications in our equipment for the market. For example, the Versant series has found banner printing as an additional application area for our customers to target.

The strength of our partner network is another reason I believe we have been able to continue doing good work. We ran several unique contests for our partner community, communicated our goals and encouraged them during regular partner meetings at the field level.

PWI: What’s your typical customer for the Versant series?
BR: Of course, GC customers form a bulk of the Versant buyers but we have been noticing a trend of offset printers who opt for the Versant machines as their digital option and that is because of the strong brand value Xerox has made among the options available in the market.

The photo printing market has also been favourable to Versant apart from the book printing market especially for its cover printing requirements.

I think the competitiveness that the Versant series provides the customers is a key factor for its overall success and reach in the market.

PWI: Which tier-2 and tier-3 cities in India commands growth?
BR: The tier-2 and tier-3 cities has always been target by Xerox and we continue to stay ahead in terms of market share in these cities.

Especially down South, I can proudly tell you that we command massive marker share in this segment. For example, for a city like Pondicherry, we have almost 90% share of the digital production colour market and even in an industry town like Coimbatore, we hold anywhere between 60-70% of the market. Kerala also has been doing extremely well too. In fact, in FY ’15 it was the number one in sale for entry production presses.

Equipped with a wide product portfolio that covers from the entry-level copier to higher level printing solutions, we see emerging opportunities in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities and intend to beef up our presence in these cities further.The present government’s focus on digital initiatives and enhancing electricity availability in smaller towns and places improves the market opportunity for expanding our business. On our part, we have already developed products that consume less power, ranging from 10-70% over that of competitive products in that range which offers us tremendous scope to tap the emerging opportunity.

Around ten years ago, people took the ‘print & distribute’ approach, when product lifecycle was longer. But, it came with additional costs in terms of storage (warehouses), postal and courier charges among others. Now, the approach is distribute electronically and print locally, as product lifecycle is lower. Digital in many ways is helping customers get the best for the buck spent. By focusing more on B and C cities with specific products, we see growth coming from there.

PWI: Which markets does the 1000i serve?
BR: Any customer who is looking for good gloss finish with high production volume especially using gold, silver and clear ink would ideally choose the 1000i.It is helping users in expanding their digital businesses by producing full-color, personalized applications with vivid images on a wide range of paper stocks, thereby, increasing workflow efficiency and productivity

We have seen clients who cater to creative projects lean towards investing in this press. Greeting cards, certificates, post cards, business cards etc. are other applications which are application areas/markets which it can serve in.

PWI: 50% repeat business. Your view on this?
BR: This simply showcases the strength of brand Xerox in the market place.

This is also a testimony to our post-sales service which we believe is the best in the industry. As a team, we always believe in providing solutions with a long term view in mind. This is also reflective on the massive work our partners have put in place which translates in to peace of mind to our customers who thereby see a long time value in our products.

PWI: 20 years for Xerox in India, what next?
BR: Well, I think Xerox is more than 30 years old in this country. Initially, it was present as Modi-Xerox and then on its own.

Having said that, I think we have been at the forefront of digital revolution all these years and ensuring digital prints are moving closer to the consumer needs and reality.

‘Book of one’ printing is where we see the market moving to and we at Xerox are geared for it with the market continuing to grow in this segment with the advent of the ecommerce portals.

This concept will drastically reduce warehouse space with just in time concept and also unleash the power of customisation in the book publishing space.

Another advantage of the ecommerce space is the know-how of the consumer habit thereby opening up to the trans-promo space which can lead to an inkjet revolution of sorts through personalised products being printed.

In 2015, the launch of Nuevera has also opened up the cheque book printing market for us apart from book printing and regular variable data printing jobs. The photo printing market will also steadily grow.

PWI: How many partners do you have as part of your indirect business model?
BR: We currently have 150 partners in our network. They work in different models- sales/service partner, sales only and service only. This also includes office only and production only models too.

The network is also growing at 10-12% every year and we take continuous efforts to ensure this growth.

PWI: How many key roadshows were held in 2016, where and how?
BR: This July we participated in a photo show in Cochin followed by another photo finish exhibition in Chennai at the end of the month.

PrintExpo (Chennai) has been a standard in our calendar and the event agenda from here on is yet to be chalked.

It is our channel which decides and does a lot of roadshows. We at Xerox are present to co-market in them.

PWI: Where do you see the print business in India in five years’ time?
BR: The pace of growth of the print business overall has slowed down and I expect this trend to continue considering various technology impedance. This does not apply to digital though, which I think should easily more than double in that period of time.

We are continuing to change our go to market approach and will continue to innovate to achieve these targets. For us, the innovation in metallic shades using the ColorLogic application (availability of 250 shades of metallic) has opened up an array of security printing applications and this should mature in the coming years.
With dedicated scientists and a R&D investment of over one billion dollars we will continue to revolutionise digital print in India and the world.

PWI: How was your business performance in the past year and in FY 2016?
BR: Last year, the business performance was very good. We did very well in the production space and also did well in office business. This year, we aimed to grow in double digits in the office space and sustain momentum on our production business. Also, a lot of new launches have happened in the last couple of months.

PWI: How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
BR: While we would not like to comment on our competitors, we believe we have the technology edge and the expertise to offer products and solutions which can cater to specific needs of the customers. Today, the printing industry is evolving and customers are demanding newer features which simplifies processes for them and we, not only have the capabilities to address these demands, but also go beyond and offer our customers products backed by our solutions.

PWI: What’s Balaji's USP?
BR: I believe it is my passion for the work I do along with my back to the basics approach which helps me remain focused on the responsibility at hand.
Also it is imperative to apply common sense to every solution finding. I think staying close to the grass roots of the organisation is very important to me as that brings out the best in me.

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