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OutputLinks' Powerful Print Profile: Jeff Jacobson

Jul 15, 2012 12:00 AM


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By Katherine O'Brien
Senior Editor, American Printer Division,
OutputLinks Communications Group

Xerox exec stresses its commitment to graphic communications and offers some drupa insights

Jeff Jacobson joined Xerox as President of Xerox Global Graphic Communications Operations this past February after a four-year stint in the top job at Presstek. Prior to that position, Jacobson was chief operating officer of Eastman Kodak Co.'s $3.6 billion Graphic Communications Group. He also served for five years as CEO of Kodak Polychrome Graphics, a $1.7 billion joint venture between Sun Chemical and Eastman Kodak.

His new role at Xerox focuses on worldwide strategy, operations, product development, marketing, sales and support of Xerox's production systems portfolio and related software and workflow offerings, along with Business Development Services.  A few weeks after joining Xerox, Jacobson was among eight executives to be elected officers of the corporation.

Xerox Two Sides: Service and Technology
Xerox currently has 140,000 people serving clients in 160 countries. With nearly $23 billion in annual revenue, the company describes itself as "the world's leading enterprise for business process and document management." Today, Xerox essentially has two main business units: Services and Technology.

The company's 2009 acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS) represented a huge move on the Services side. In 2009, ACS was a $6.5 billion company with revenue growth of 6 percent. It had a headcount of 74,000 people vs. Xerox's 54,000 employees at that time.

Jacobson, as President of Xerox Global Graphic Communications Operations, belongs to the Technology group. While he'll confine himself to the production segment, this group also encompasses document outsourcing and workplace solutions. Jacobson reports to Armando Zagalo de Lima, President, Xerox Technology, who in turn reports to CEO Ursula Burns.

Jacobson told WhatTheyThink.com that Xerox remains firmly committed to the graphic arts industry: "I have been excited to see the willingness of the Xerox team to devote this type of focus to the graphic communications industry," Jacobson told WTT's Cary Sherburne. "Yes, at a corporate level, we are talking about a focus on services, but that absolutely does not mean we are taking the focus off of technology. Services are another leg in the stool that will help us be as strong as we can be. We are certainly not defocusing on the graphics industry."

A Focused, Dedicated Line of Business
Previously, Xerox's Technology Group was organized along regional lines. In January 2012, the company redirected the geographic approach in favor of three customer-focused divisions:

  • Large Enterprise Operations (Stephen Cronin)
  • Channel Partner Operations, (Douraid Zaghouani)
  • Graphic Communications Operations (Jeff Jacobson) Jacobson told Lyra Research  that Xerox's Graphic Communications Operations Group encompasses U.S. Operations, European Operations and a Business Group dedicated to product development and marketing. These groups are headed by Steve Butler, Diego Hervas and Eric Armour, respectively.

"For years [as an outsider], I would look at Xerox and wonder why they didn't have a graphic arts focused, dedicated line of business," says Jacobson. "[It provides] a marketplace perspective to R&D. You develop products and align the supply chain in accordance with that perspective. And you get those products and services out to the sales regions dedicated to graphic arts. Even though Xerox has had salespeople dedicated to the graphic arts market, the difference here is that this will be a dedicated, end-to-end graphics organization."

Closer Customer Communications
Under the new direction, graphic communications salespeople work with regional managers. At the next level, regional vice presidents report to Butler, the senior vice president of Graphic Communications for the U.S. Butler, in turn, reports to Jacobson.

The streamlined approach also aims to strengthen customer bonds-customer can easily identify their best point of contact. They also can expect a hands-on approach from Jacobson and his team.

"Many times during my 25 years in this industry customers have told me five or more years can go by without a visit from key suppliers' senior executives," he says. "That's not my style: I have always believed in developing all-encompassing relationships."

The sales organization is equally enthusiastic. "The front line salespeople can pick up the phone and they can call the head of the U.S. operations. They can call me, a person who is specifically dedicated to graphics, that's a benefit they previously lacked," Jacobson explains.

High Profile  
Jacobson will be spending a lot time with customers at Xerox's Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation. Located in Webster, NY, a suburb of Rochester, the multimillion-dollar, 100,000-sq.-ft. facility lets customers access Xerox's R&D, engineering, manufacturing and marketing experts. "I've also been traveling with our sales people in the U.S. and Europe says Jacobson. I don't think many of the competitors are as visible at that level.

Direct from Dusseldorf
I met Jeff Jacobson for the first time at drupa 2000. Jacobson was then the newly appointed CEO of Kodak Polychrome Graphics. When we spoke before the show, Jacobson told us he was looking forward to meeting customers and prospects: "I plan on spending as much time as possible with customers, partners and prospects - listening and learning about their business and helping them understand the benefits of digital print in order to grow and prosper."

Under the Big drupa Top
We joined Jacobson in the upper deck of the Xerox booth for a quick chat. "It's been fantastic," he said. "The show has exceeded my expectations-the booth has been packed."

Thrice daily performances from a Cirque du Soleil contingent stopped visitors in their tracks. "Mr. Focus," a combination of mime, gymnast and latter-day Harold Lloyd, led a troupe of five women, each wearing vibrantly-hued, bob-style wigs, in some comical crowd interactions. Eventually the group ascended a broad platform about 10 feet above the crowd. This stage was divided into three segments, each inset with a flat black trampoline-like surface. The audience was mesmerized as four additional performers bounded out and began soaring and tumbling in perfect synchronicity with the adjacent performers.

"Most people don't know I'm up there performing with Cirque du Soleil," Jacobson joked. "Of course the makeup on my suit is something of a giveaway."

Serious Focus on the Graphic Arts
But according to Jacobson, the real excitement came from Xerox Global Graphic Communications. "People are seeing our new organization, our dedication to graphic communications and our commitment to our customers."

Jacobson also alluded to some equipment highlights, including the iGen 150-a 150-ppm device that can produce 3,000 26-inch oversized sheets per hour. We'd first seen Xerox CiPress 500 at Graph Expo. The production inkjet system uses Xerox-own waterless phase change ink technology and piezo printheads. The twin-engine CiPress prints at 500 fpm or 2,180 full-color pages per minute. Users can run color jobs on low-cost, plain paper.

Xerox also announced the CiPress 325. Targeting printers with lower average monthly page volumes, the twin-engine device makes it easier to enter the high-speed inkjet market. Rated at 325 fpm, it offers 600x600 dpi resolution.

"Finishing usually doesn't get people's attention, but our IntegratedPLUS Finishing Solution for Booklets is pretty exciting," said Jacobson. This finishing solution for booklets is said to combine in-line efficiency with off-line flexibility. A dual mode feeder allows an in-line finisher traditionally dedicated to a single digital-print system to accept and handle printed output from multiple presses when operated in off-line mode.

What's Next?
Drupa 2012 featured at least six B2 digital presses, prompting Print Week's Darryl Danielli to ask Jacobson if Xerox would follow suit. "We absolutely will pursue B2," said Jacobson. Commercial printers are a big part of our focus…We are looking at all format sizes and will be where our customers need and want to go."