This is an interview from 2014, the year Xtandit celebrated her 25th anniversary. To be honest, it’s still actual and alive.
The bustling town of Woerden is a place as famous for its Gouda cheese as it is for being a commuter hub between larger Netherlands cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Adding to its charm, Woerden also happens to be home to Xtandit, one of Europe’s most successful — and progressive —managed print and IT services companies.
If you think celebrating their 25th anniversary this year a stone’s throw from Woerden’s 260-year-old “De Windhond” windmill makes Xtandit old-school and stodgy, you’d be very wrong. For the past 15 years, Xtandit has been rocketing past its legacy as a traditional reseller of printers and copiers to become a powerhouse of cutting-edge document management solutions and managed print services.
The company has garnered multiple Xerox Partner of the Year awards and was named Xerox Managed Print Services Partner of the Year for the past three years in a row. Xtandit has twice won the MPSA’s top award for European MPS resellers and the firm is a member of the Photizo Group’s MPS Channel Provider Leader index, just a few of its many accolades. Along for every step of the journey from traditional Xerox concessionaire to modern-day MPS master has been Xtandit’s Commercial Director Edwin Jongsma.
We caught up with Jongsma on the occasion of Xtandit’s silver anniversary to find out how the print business has changed in a quarter century, and to hear what other partners can learn from Jongsma’s and Xtandit’s strategy of transformation to document management and MPS.
IT Connect & Expand: First of all, congratulations on your 25th anniversary. That’s a major milestone. What are the most striking changes you’ve seen in that time?
Edwin Jongsma: The biggest change I’ve experienced is the transformation from paper to digital. I started with Xtandit as a sales rep in 1989 when the Xerox portfolio was made up of analog copiers. There was the Xerox 5007 with its moving platen. We had Xerox typewriters like the Piano series and Xerox fax devices. The first plain paper A4 fax, the Xerox 7020 had just come out, and the following year, the first Xerox desktop laser printer, the 4030 was launched. It took till the end of the ‘90s for the debut of the first Xerox digital office copier.
That’s where the bridge from paper to digital really started. When Xerox launched their first MFP, we started a specialized software business unit to support them. Our 15 years of experience with scanning, workflow and document management solutions is now a major differentiator against most of our competitors. It’s always been our vision to fulfill customers’ need to go from paper to digital. While not every customer choses a software solution directly, we’re still sure that our ability to implement document-process software solutions has influenced our success.
C&E: How have customers businesses changed over that same period? And did that help or hinder Xtandit’s transformation into a services-focused managed print provider?
EJ: Due to the economic crisis, customers are focusing on cost reduction and moving back to core business activities. Non-core, repeatable business processes are being outsourced more and more.
At the same time, IT decision makers are transforming from IT infrastructure managers to information managers. They have to advise their executive boards on how to deal with business changes and ways to support the company’s goals. Consequently, they expect the same from their IT and print infrastructure providers. Creating customer value and experience is the name of the game, and it’s what we have in common with our customers.
MPS lets us create a higher level of customer intimacy and grow to the level of creating customer value and experience. That’s why we invested in our own service desk and assessment capabilities. In MPS, you can make a difference in the assessment stage and in the management stage. We have a clear vision in our MPS approach to make a difference in both stages.
C&E: You’re a strong advocate of building advanced, digital document management capabilities, software solutions, digitized paper, etc., into your MPS offerings. Why is that?
EJ: I don’t believe in a paperless office yet, but I do believe in less paper. In the new world, which formed after the economic crisis, the demand for automating repeatable business processes is growing. At the same time we know that print volume is declining, click prices are still declining and the average numbers of print devices per customer is declining.
We also know that the use of mobile devices is growing and companies want their employees to be able to work from anywhere at any time. The demand for reading, sharing, editing and saving digital information and for digital collaboration is rapidly growing. So, on one side our traditional business revenue is declining and a new business model is rising.
As a provider in this world, there’s three ways I can react: One, I can shut my eyes and wait until the year 2007 comes back again; two, I can try to keep the old business model of moving boxes alive as long as possible; or three, I can embrace the new world and transform my business model to the new trends and needs of my customers.
We’ve chosen the last option. In our MPS approach, we try to help our customers by reducing print volume, reducing the number of print devices and optimizing and redesigning their document processes.
Embracing the new trend and business model allows us to stabilize and eventually grow revenues. This vision also helps us differentiate in a world where most of the printing and imaging providers still act as box movers.
C&E: So, how do we ultimately make digital documents more sharable and interactive to really make them part of the modern, collaborative work process? Is that a good goal for an MPS firm?
EJ: We can make digital documents more shareable and interactive with the right business and document process by analyzing and advising on best-in-class software solutions. The traditional DIN paper sizes we are going to change to more digital formats with a lot of dynamic content. If it’s not a goal of your firm to offer solutions of this kind you’ll be in trouble.
Customers will increasingly demand ways to improve their business and document processes. Hot technologies like Big Data, cloud, mobile and social are changing the way customers choose business partners. How can you advise the customer according to these IT trends? How can you improve the security around this topics? Are you a specialist? What are your experiences? Can you prove how you have helped other companies? What value will you bring to the customer business goals?
Creating this specialization is a must for every MPS player in our industry. Hardware is not central anymore. Printers and MFPs are a piece within the total solution and services bundle.
C&E: What do you think the future holds for digital document management and how can today’s MPS providers continue to evolve and prosper along with it?
EJ: The way we create documents today and how we communicate is changing dramatically. Watch your children and you learn what the future will bring us in the office. Documents will be replaced by dynamic content. Workflow tasks will be integrated in the content.
Data analysis is creating new and faster go-to-market strategies. Video conferencing is changing the way we communicate and voice is used to manage and connect our devices to the Internet.
Follow these trends closely and make the right decisions at the right time to embrace new market demands. The willingness to invest in the right new solutions, services and products will keep you in the driver’s seat. Specialization and creating customer value in the transformation from paper to digital, from document to content, from infrastructure management to information management and from reactive to proactive services will earn you success today and into the future.
C&E: Finally, what do you hope Xtandit looks like when it celebrates its next 25 years in business?
EJ: If I look in my crystal ball for the next generation— because I hope I’m fishing 25 years from now —I see Xtandit is a business consultancy leader.
I also see robots cleaning our houses, preparing our meals and digitally summarizing our meetings with smart, Big-Data suggestions for solutions. And we’ll all be flying in vehicles fueled by a new and durable energy source. That way, meeting up for a day fishing anywhere I choose will be a piece of cake!