Is Xerox Changing Direction or Is It More of the Same?

I’m watching with great interest the current change in leadership at Xerox. They just announced that Lynn Blodgett will retire at the end of 2014 and Robert Zapfel will join the firm on April 1 as president of Xerox Services and EVP of the corporation, reporting to the chairman and CEO. Bob has had a distinguished career for 35 years at IBM and helped transform Big Blue’s services business to profitability. Will Xerox now use the IBM playbook?

Here’s a short version of the IBM playbook:

  • Be relentless in adjusting the cost base and disciplined in exiting businesses that can’t meet the return total.
  • Be patient and consistent in acquiring new properties that enable positioning in attractive, high-growth market segments.
  • Be very effective at utilizing the company’s broad capabilities including products and R&D to craft a differentiated position in services.

In many respects Xerox and IBM enjoy a similar position. They both have strong balance sheets with which to finance acquisitions, they both have golden brands that engender trust, and they both have R&D that is the envy of the industry. Arguably Xerox has already been walking down the IBM path to some extent. It will be interesting to see how Bob shapes the future of this proud and venerable industry leader. What do you think?

Photo credit: Derek Bruff