As we go to press, news that Xerox is to split into two companies, one focusing on document technology (i.e. printing and document management) and the other on business process outsourcing (i.e. services) comes as little surprise after weeks of rumour. It follows the recent creation of HP Enterprise and HP Inc. and will fuel calls for Lexmark to separate its printing and enterprise software businesses. Xerox says the ‘conscious uncoupling’ of what is effectively ACS, which it acquired in 2010, is being done in the interests of agility and flexibility and will enable both new organisations to speed up decision-making and target growth areas more effectively. These aims mirror the reasons Sharp has given for its recent reorganisation into six autonomous virtual businesses. If the separation does create two more dynamic entities it can be considered a success. For a long time, Xerox has suffered from an excessively corporate identity that looks out of place in today’s mobile, cloud-enabled and app-driven world. In the summer, PITR noticed that even HP executives were now wearing jeans for product launches – albeit black ones that from a distance could be mistaken for suit trousers.
What is certain is that the Xerox split won’t be the only announcement to rock the printer industry in 2016. Persistent speculation and rumours (often unfounded), like those surrounding the printing divisions of Toshiba, Sharp and Lexmark, are inevitable in a period of change. When we asked resellers and manufacturers whether they thought the printer industry was ready for a new wave of consolidation, the answer was an almost unanimous Yes (see page 24).
Consolidation won’t be confined to manufacturers. The channel, too, is likely to be affected as customers rationalise their supplier base and seek out dealers who can deliver multiple services. For resellers, acquisitions are an effective way to expand their capabilities, their customer base and their turnover, as the recent performance of Apogee and Annodata so clearly demonstrate (see page 6).
James Goulding, Editor.
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