Q&A: Lexmark moves focus to software with Solutions Centre in London

The Boardroom

by Kate Heslop| 19 December 2013

CBR spoke to Lexmark's general managing director for the UK and Ireland, Danny Molhoek, and Chris Booth, sales manager for the UK and Ireland, about the company's shift towards software solutions.

What are your roles at Lexmark?

I'm the MD for the UK and Ireland. I've been here since March. I've been working for Lexmark for about 15 years. I started out in sales, then they sent me to the East, so I've been managing central and eastern Europe and all the emerging countries.

Chris Booth: I'm Chris Booth, I have a responsibility for sales within our software solutions.

Can you tell me a bit about the Lexmark Solutions Centre?

Lexmark has probably existed now for 23-24 years as a company, from former IBM. We have been on a journey in this entire period. When I joined Lexmark about 15 years ago, it was an organisation that was delivering world class network laser devices to the marketplace, talking predominantly to IT. We made sure our products worked with almost everything that was out there.

We're already at that moment in time where we're vertically organised, trying to gain knowledge of industries; specific industries in the market has always been one of the key aspects. We've been starting developing our own solutions. Around the millennium started with the whole managed print services concept. Managed print services for us, even in those days, was not a price per click kind of contract, it was much more. And then we're developing all of that, new software and solutions, and about three and a half years ago we decided to expand. That's when we started to acquire software companies. The first one that we bought was Perceptive Software.

We believe that this is the right path forward for Lexmark, to make sure that we're specialists in these various industries, in both hardware and software.

Apart from the Solutions Centre in London, how are you showing your clients that you are about more than just hardware?

There are multiple ways. Unfortunately we don't have a hundred million dollar marketing budget! But we have various paths to market. We do a lot of investment internally with regards to our people. We take the opportunity to do the regular visits that we do with customers, where we have developed certain tools and presentations. But what has been working really well for us is that we set up meetings here in the city where we have customers coming in, on a specific subject, and we present to them, but we also have our customers presenting to them. We have three different formats that we use, we have managed print services dominated with a part of software in it, software with a part of MPS in it, and more a less an equal share. So there's those three types, depending on the industry and where customers are in their thinking process. We do it on a very regular basis here. Because if customers take the time and effort to come over here, there is a lot of feedback after that.

Do you take a lot of customer feedback?

If you want to position yourself in the market, you can develop the most beautiful tools that you can imagine, but it will never work unless it's synced with customer requirements. We do listen to our customers a lot. It's not just listening to the customers, but it's also making the investments to follow legislation. Talk the banks here

One of the issues that you hear with many companies is that they want to change and implement. If I show them a simple business process, they say great,. But they don't have the staff or resources to do that, because we have that and we can do that for you. Everything's going so fast but there are so many things that they have to keep into account.

What has Lexmark been up to in 2013?

From an internal point of view, I think the biggest milestone that we have is that we are integrating quite well.
If you have a company like Lexmark and you start to acquire software companies, you need to integrate all of that and I think we're doing quite well on that. We try to make training programmes for our people, everything goes so fast, so you need to get up to date. The people that we have working for Lexmark have the skill set to do certain things but they still need to get up to date with training. It's very exciting to see that the people really embrace the strategy that we have with Lexmark, and that's a very positive sign.
Today with the capabilities that we have with the company, we can really help any kind of customer these days. We are focusing on a couple of things as you cant do it all, but we're investing at this moment in our verticals, in our people, and we're recruiting people. It's been a very exciting year for us.

As you know, that from a management services point of view we have been recognised for a number of years as one of the leaders, and recently Perceptive by Lexmark has now also been in the magic quadrant for Gartner. That's really exciting because if you see the name around Perceptive, it created a bit of a shock.

Chris Booth: It was a real milestone for us in terms of moving to that top rank or quadrant. If you're a CIO and you're looking at solutions, that questions comes up quite a lot: where are you positioned in the magic quadrant? We can say we're top right hand. It's a huge tick in a huge box. It's the measure of the stature of the business and how it's maturing in a sense. And that's all down to our legacy and strategy.

What are Lexmark's plans for 2014?

We have been doing a lot of education this year, both internal and external. We have been trying to educate our customers on what Lexmark is about. Some people just know us from the tin. We still deliver hardware and lots of it, but part of the strategy going forward is much broader, especially in the verticals. We want to make sure that we are recognised by the industry for doing that, recognised as being a leader in the areas where we want to lead, and we want to make sure that we've got the good people from the right customers.

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