Kevin Paterson

PCR’s September Life in the Channel with Xerox’s Kevin Paterson

Xerox appointed Kevin Paterson as UK Head of SMB Channel and Xerox Business Solutions (XBS) in March 2021. Since then, Kevin has been responsible for navigating the end of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent supply chain disruptions. Under his management, the convergence of technology hardware and software solutions companies provide widespread coverage across the entirety of the UK channel.

Here’s what Kevin Paterson, UK Head of SMB Channel and Xerox Business Solutions had to say.

Can you tell us more about yourself and what your role involves?
I’m Kevin Paterson, UK Head of Xerox SMB Channel and Xerox Business Solutions (XBS) and I joined Xerox in 2011 when they acquired the business I led, Concept Group. I’m responsible for any product or service that moves through our SMB channels. Essentially, my team and I are problem solvers. Clients and other organisations come to us, and we say, “how can we help?”

We are fortunate to have a very well established network of Channel partners, some sell Xerox exclusively, and others carry Xerox as part of a broader range. We also enjoy strong partnerships with a number of online resellers for e-commerce and fast moving A4 and supplies products. Our Indirect Channel continues to create reliable revenue streams for us and is a core route to market for the SMB marketplace.

The XBS story is an interesting and complimentary one. We’re always thinking about how we can add another string to our bow, and we’ve done that consistently over the last 11 years, making strategic acquisitions to work with companies where there can be a mutually beneficial relationship. It started with Concept Group, a digital document solutions provider, and in early 2020 we made three further acquisitions, in Arena Group, Altodigital and ITEC Connect, all leading technology and software solutions providers in their own right. These acquisitions have all been made to complement each other, to bring in additional expertise and to drive our overall SMB Channel Model forward.

What work is Xerox currently undertaking within the channel?
Everything we do is underpinned and enabled by coverage. Since the start of 2020 we have added an additional 400 service heads. All of a sudden, from the North of Scotland, right down to the Southeast, we’re able to provide the same level of service to our partners and their customers, tell the same story and solve a problem while leaning on a wider, collective unit.

How has the Channel evolved since you started working in it?
When I started the reality was that we were essentially working in an analogue world. It was about copying and turning that into digital printing, it was about fixing customers’ problems, and quickly, through total cost of ownership. You’d always be asking yourself how we can be better than the next person? Really, it’s by understanding better than anyone else what that problem is, how we can fix it as quickly, dynamically and pain free as possible, while maintaining excellent customer service.

Truthfully, that’s not changed. These are still the ideals that we approach our work with today and that underpin everything we do. What has changed however, is the tools that we have to deliver, which of course are much more sophisticated than they were, say 25 years ago. Now, we’re still leveraging the same depth of expertise, but we can do so through remote diagnosis, augmented reality (AR), all to make the customer experience as positive as possible.

How is technology facilitating this gear change in the Channel?
If you look at customer service trends, customers and consumers now require personalised services that are available anytime and anywhere. Younger generations tend to immediately pick up their phone and see if they can resolve the issue by looking at YouTube. Customers are no longer willing to wait what was once a reasonable two hours. Now the task is making that experience more augmented, more immersive to help them fix an issue remotely – and that’s something Xerox are already doing through our software CareAR. This, of course, all has to be intuitive. If you download Uber, or Deliveroo, you don’t have to look at a manual and providing digital services has to be the same. We have to be facilitating innovative solutions rather than creating additional problems.

To a certain degree, anyone can provide a printer at a starter level, and it’s about taking that initial interaction, and looking further into the future, asking “what can this relationship look like in five years, 10 years’ time?” You really need to have a strong team and the right infrastructure to provide solutions along the customer journey. While you might never be an expert in everything, you can look to optimise both workflow and digitisation through additional tools and services. This is where the industry is going, has gone, and it’s really a case of adapt, or die.

What would you say is the biggest change in the past two years?
Obviously, the supply chains have been a huge challenge. Whether you’re looking to purchase a car or a printer, it’s taking a lot longer than it did pre-Covid. You would be hard pressed to find an industry that hasn’t been affected by the bottlenecks. However, it is improving, and I think the biggest change that we’ve seen is the desire for flexibility. People often forget how for many, the hybrid office was an aspirational thing. Yes, there were cultures and organisations that were ahead of the curve, but Covid-19 forced everyone to hop aboard the train.

Crucial to this is integration, and the speed at which we’ve integrated has been an enormous shift. More so, I think that since Covid-19, organisations are becoming leaner, which in turn leads to conversations around what are the right solutions for their organisation moving forward, customers are more open minded about change. Now, organisations in the channel have had to develop increasingly comprehensive offerings, inclusive of service, product, and backup infrastructure.

What are the key trends that are gripping the channel at the moment, and where do you think the channel is headed?
Increasingly, we’re seeing clients demand accountability. It’s a consequence of the increased reliance on technology. Through our conversations with clients and their teams, we know that they don’t want to speak with salespeople or find out as part of a quarterly review how everything is going. Instead, they want immediate access to their performance, they want to see what the up time and down time is, and know how quickly they can respond to any performance issues. It’s about solving problems for our customers whether that be transformation projects or IT services.

Partners are also demanding more value. What might start as managed print services can evolve into IT services, augmented reality, and Security-as-a-Service. The next step in the value chain has become the imperative. Trends in technology can mean that you might not be shifting the same amount of product, so it’s important that the offer of the next service is available.

How has the shift to the cloud unlocked opportunities for Xerox?
As organisations have transitioned their operations into the digital realm, partners and customers are increasingly demanding change. And cloud plays a crucial role and is a key enabler of that change. As I mentioned earlier, it is the speed of that change, and the business integration of that change that truly defines the adoption and success of those transformation projects. Employees need to access information and processes from multiple locations, and the cloud facilitates that. With capture services such as our Xerox Workflow Central, users are able to seamlessly scan information directly into software platforms, databases and processes – and we can then provide a cloud-based document repository and workflow platform with our Docushare suite. Cloud gives organisations flexibility, speed and security.

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