Ted Dezvane is no stranger to small business. “My father ran a small business for 35 to 40 years and I was often his back-office, unofficial strategy guy,” he said. “It was a tool and die manufacturing business. I grew up around that DNA of wondering how do you optimize, how do you grow and how do you figure out all of those things.”
Dezvane did not stay to carry on his father’s business, but that experience is now shaping his duties as global head of Xerox’s Managed Document Services organization. While his focus at the corporation headquartered in Norwalk has primarily been on larger-scale operations — he was Xerox’s chief strategy officer when the company spun off Conduent this year — he now leads an effort to further strengthen Xerox’s position in the small and midsize business market.
“Xerox is embracing the SMB market in a way that I haven’t seen us do in the 12 years I’ve been here,” said Dezvane. “There was a growth initiative at Xerox in the ’90s around SOHO — small office/home office — but it didn’t go gangbusters. As with all the other things happening in the ’90s, it wound up getting shut down in the early 2000s.”
To establish a renewed presence in this space, Xerox is positioning its business technology solutions subsidiary, Global Imaging Systems, to serve as its brand ambassador to small and midsize companies. “Along with Global Imaging Systems, we are also leveraging channel partners, independent dealers and distributors — folks that are themselves small and medium businesses — and empowering them with tools and accreditations they need to succeed,” said Dezvane.
“The idea is to step back and talk to our partners about what’s the journey that they should be taking their clients on,” he said. “If all you’re doing is taking over the product maintenance and the toner, the value added to the customer isn’t enormous — it’s just a different pricing model from what they could have gotten if they bought the thing piecemeal. But if we talk to our partners about how these small and medium businesses use their printing — what is the usage patterns, what are they printing? — then we have a fact-based way of assessing and we can see if the workflow automation that we can bring into the environment can be a lot more effective and secure.”
Dezvane said Xerox is focusing on cloud computing solutions, which has been extremely attractive for budget-conscious small and midsize companies.
The cloud “allows not just small business, but also big business to be able to leverage shared infrastructure and overhead costs. And that’s why our service pricing models to go along with our cloud services are very popular — you pay for what you use. I don’t think it is appropriate for every type of technology to be priced on an as-you-use-it basis. In managed print, communications services and workflow automation, we are able to manage that infrastructure in the cloud and have the pricing go along with it.”
With on-site physical hardware, Dezvane added, Xerox enables customers to “spread the cost of that over time and volume and have the end user pay for it over time. You don’t want to get locked into something that is way too big or way too small. You don’t know where your business is going to be in two, three or four years.”
Too many businesses still are not using technology to its fullest, Dezvane noted. He remembered his father having a computer at his desk but still preferring to handle much of his operations using pen and paper. While few business owners today take that approach, he said, the nature of the tech world is still challenging to too
“There are probably less than 1 percent of companies on the planet that are using technology to its maximum effectiveness,” Dezvane said. “I don’t think I am going out on a limb. The day-to-day requirements of being a business are taking up our time and the technology platforms that are out there are changing quickly. Even something you bought four or five years ago might be antiquated, even though it still works.”
“The problem isn’t if the technology is available — it’s if the technology is absorbable,” he said. “How do you absorb that technology and avoid using a lot of time and energy trying to figure out if the technology is right for you? And how do you apply that into your business so that work gets done faster, with lower errors and you can focus on other things?”