Xerox News

Unlocking Potential: Xerox Tips to Leverage Diversity in Canadian Businesses

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Today Xerox was named Best Diversity Employer by MediaCorp Canada for 2016 – our seventh consecutive year making this important list. Awards such as this demonstrate that we see diversity as a competitive advantage – in fact, it’s been a part of our DNA since the early days of our company when Xerox Chairman Joseph C. Wilson found himself and the company in the midst of the 1960’s race riots in Rochester, NY.

Xerox Canada was named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2016.

To better understand the issues behind the riots, Wilson met with black leaders and learned one of the key reasons for the unrest was sufficient access to jobs for African Americans. To help with the situation, Wilson and Xerox President C. Peter McColough began calling for all Xerox managers to increase their hiring of African-Americans. This began a ground-breaking effort by Xerox to achieve equality among its workforce, which continues today in policies such as our Wilson Rule, which requires that women and minorities be among the final pool of qualified candidates for every open management position in the U.S.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The benefits of having a diverse workforce are not new, and include wide-ranging areas such as improving employee satisfaction and retention, bringing more ideas and innovation to the table and even providing better customer service. Despite these benefits, Canadian businesses are not fully leveraging the potential of a diverse workforce, according to the Canadian Board Diversity Council’s 2015 Diversity Report Card, which measures diversity trends at the board level of Canadian businesses. The report shows that board diversity for women and visible minorities is increasing, though slower than the recommended pace, and the percentage of director-level Aboriginal leaders and leaders with disabilities remains low overall.

“Diversity is not a nice-to-have, it is a crucial issue for Canadian competitiveness,” says Dr. Michael Bloom, Vice-President, Industry and Business Strategy, Conference Board of Canada. “It is worrying that so many directors find their boards lack international experience and orientation—a key to global success. This gap means that organizations are more likely to be unaware of international opportunities and lack the insights and connections to find success in new markets. This past year, regulators in Canada sent a clear message to the boards of Canadian organizations: The pace of change in fostering board diversity is too slow.”

According to Statistics Canada, more than 20% of Canada’s current population comes from people born in other countries – the most diverse population amongst all of the G8 countries. That means that one out of every five people comes from another country who have different cultural traditions and thoughts that businesses can learn and innovate from.

Here are some of Xerox’s top diversity tips to help Canadian businesses of all sizes hire and benefit from our diverse populations:

  • Develop recruiting and hiring strategies that support diversity – such as the Xerox Wilson Rule – to make diversity a priority in your organization
  • Openly discuss and train managers about how unconscious bias can negatively impact the workplace
  • Remember that diversity isn’t just about visible minorities and gender. Celebrate diversity of all kinds, including diversity in the way people think and express themselves (introvert versus extrovert), age diversity (millennials, generation x and y and baby boomers) and sexual orientation. Create a work environment where people are free to be themselves and express their thoughts.
  • Use diversity as a competitive advantage. Bring many different ideas and backgrounds to the table when discussing important business decisions to consider multiple options and solutions

Use these tips as the foundation of your diversity strategy and continue to build a culture that welcomes and understands the advantages a diverse workforce bring to your business.

Source:: xerox news

Productivity Up and Paper Down in 2016

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Guest post by Adam Johnson, Director of Limpio MPS

The push to paperless in the office is unrelenting. Not purely because companies wish to become more sustainable, but many organizations understand that the increase in productivity by removing paper can have a significant impact on profitability. I believe in 2016, we will take another significant step towards eliminating paper with a vast increase in the use of document authorization via e-signatures.

Currently in many organizations documents are created, distributed and digested electronically, yet when it comes to authorization of a document many organizations still insist on physical paper. This process causes a massive impact on productivity.

Let me give you an example of a typical sales process and the number of stages that organizations go through to obtain a physical signature:

  • Salesman agrees new contract with client following negotiations
  • Salesman creates contract for signature and prints out in (probably in color) ready for customer signature
  • Salesman travels to Client location and reviews document before obtaining signature from client
  • A copy of the document is taken and given to client who passes to support staff for filing
  • The file copy is then scanned by support staff and located in relevant electronic document storage. The physical copy is probably then destroyed.
  • The salesman returns from client and copies document for his own records before passing to sales order processing
  • Sales order processing review the document then scan and file electronically
  • Finally, sales order processing then take the paper document and store it in the relevant physical file location.

Compare this process with one whereby the salesman emails the client the relevant document, which is then securely authorized via e-signature and returned. No travelling to client, no paper produced (in this case, saving the document being printed once, then copied twice, with both copies probably being destroyed.)

When you see it like this you realize how archaic the old process was. This is why e-signature companies such as DocuSign, Adobe and Right Signature have made significant progress over the last 12 months. Last yearDocuSign announced significant partnerships with Microsoft, OpenText and Sage, opening awareness to a vast new audience. With Microsoft Office 365, DocuSign can be integrated with Word, Outlook and SharePoint allowing for easy and instant integration to existing document processes. But perhaps more importantly, this now allows for digital signatures via mobile devices giving far greater flexibility to organizations management of documents while still removing the physical paper.

It will be interesting to see how this develops over the next 12 months, but my prediction is another giant leap towards a less-paper office.

Limpio MPS works with organizations to improve business practice and reduce the impact that printing has on the organization. This content is shared with permission. Any views expressed reflect the opinion of the original authors.

Source:: xerox news

Meet the Innovator: Pedram Salami

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Pedram Salami, Project Leader, Process Engineering Team, Scale-Up Engineering, Xerox Research Centre of Canada

In this series, we sit down with a few of our leading scientists and researchers at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC), a world-renowned materials research and development centre for Xerox with a successful track record of taking materials research from concept to market in a highly competitive technology environment. For the next few weeks, our featured innovators will share their passion for innovation and how their work is helping businesses in Canada (and around the world!) work better.

Describe your role

I am currently a Project Leader and I belong to the Process Engineering team. As part of the Scale-Up Engineering department here at XRCC, we are responsible for transferring lab-scale processes into manufacturing scale. This involves design and implementation at bench scale, almost always followed by rigorous troubleshooting and lengthy optimization experiments until we are ready to move the process to pilot scale where new challenges await. My role involves coordination of project activities and resources, communication to stakeholders, experiment planning and providing direction to meet objectives. Aside from the administrative responsibilities, I also spend much of my time in a lab coat, or with coveralls if we are running an experiment in the pilot plant. Working alongside the team and seeing firsthand how our materials are being developed and are performing ensures my best understanding of the technical challenges we sometimes face and how to proceed with solutions.

How long have you been with Xerox? What made you decide to join?

I was hired in June 2014 following my graduation from Chemical Engineering at McMaster University. My capstone project to finalize undergrad was plant design of an anionic polymerization of bimodal resin for toner, which was being led by XRCC’s very own. I came for a tour here as part of the course to gain insight on what a true scale-up facility looks like, which by the way there are very few in North America. XRCC caught my attention as being a prestigious research centre with only the brightest scientists and innovators, surrounded by endless labs and a very impressive three-storey pilot plant. I remember walking through the pilot plant with my group looking around at the many reactors, heat exchanges, and filter columns that we have been learning about in textbooks/lectures for years and thinking to myself how surreal it was to actually be standing there. It was at this point that I knew a job here would excite and motivate me every morning to go into work and allow me to use every aspect of my education while also learning exponentially and contributing as a chemical engineer to such a great community of professionals.

What inspires you to be innovative?

Being surrounded by mostly chemists (organic, synthetic & analytical) or engineers, many with 10+ years of service to XRCC and a passion for research really brings out the creativity and enthusiasm in me. I was intimidated at first, being a recent graduate, but the fellowship and encouragement I received from my colleagues inspired me to share all my ideas and contribute openly. As a research centre, we encounter challenges on every project and there is always a solution, it just takes collaboration and open-mindedness to think outside the box and try new ideas. Brainstorming across an interdisciplinary team generates ideas from different backgrounds, which feed on each other and stem into possibilities that would not have been there if we were all engineers or all scientists. Science is always improving and the way we approach new problems must take into account the breakthroughs, techniques and materials that we work so hard develop. I like to challenge what can’t be done and find an easier or more efficient way of doing things, which also applies to the science we do here at XRCC. This year I submitted three invention disclosures, two of which will be patented and one which will be trade secret; this was really exciting for me.

What projects are you excited to be working on?

My main project focuses on the development and production of silver nanoparticles which are used as a key ingredient for various conductive inks, which each have their own project that I am lucky to also be involved with. We formulate silver nanoparticle conductive inks for clients interested in printed electronics such as RFIDs and sensors. These inks are part of our electronic materials business that we have been growing over the past few years and it really picked up in 2015. This is an exciting opportunity because we are competing with other companies to put a benchmark ink on the market for specialized applications, which have potential for large supply contracts.

What are your passions in life? How do you spend your free time?

Growing up, I spent much of my time playing team sports. I had soccer 4 nights a week throughout my teen years, as well as high school basketball and football; although I’ll admit those two were not my strong suit. I also picked up the guitar ten years ago and I still enjoy playing it in my leisure time. I definitely love to take things apart and see how they work then challenge myself to put it back together no matter how complex it might me, which has always been a show of the engineer in me. I’ve travelled to Germany, Holland, Dominican Republic, and spent a summer in Ecuador, where half my roots are from. Travelling is a something I have not made enough time for recently and I am planning to change that in the next couple of years with trips to see as many of the 10 ancient civilizations that I possibly can.

Source:: xerox news

Four Obstacles to Digital Transformation: Why Paper Keeps Hanging On

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By: Carro Ford

Why Can’t We “Go Paperless” Faster?
It’s hard to empower revenue earners, reinvent customer experience, or launch breakthrough products and services when collaboration and interaction are hampered by paper-bound processes. It doesn’t matter whether those processes connect customer-facing engagements or internal support functions. One delay, one error, one missed step drives down quality. Even worse, it can cost you a customer forever.

Enterprise leaders recognize the importance of adopting digital ways of working. A survey from McKinsey and Company finds that top performing companies take advantage of digital innovation. In other research from Gartner, 25 percent of CEOs cite technology-related issues in their top business priorities, while two-thirds say their enterprises are involved in industry-level digital initiatives.

1. Process Digitization Takes Work
Whatever your digital transformation objectives or initiatives, moving away from paper is a top priority. Digitization of paper-based processes is a fundamental enabler of digital transformation for traditional businesses.

Going paperless is easier said than done, especially for large, established organizations. For one thing, there are the cost and time to digitize entrenched end-to-end workflows. The return on investment is appealing, but first that investment must be financed and resourced. And even before getting to deployment, you need process and workflow analysis to factually understand what you’re dealing with.

It takes time, expertise and technology to map customer and employee journeys in the context of business processes. In the meantime, organizations may have to manage hybrid environments of non-digitized and partially digitized processes. If it sounds challenging, it is.

2. Making an Exception Again and Again and Again
Another hurdle for digital crusaders is that even the most thorough of digitization efforts can’t account for all exceptions in a process. In an ideal world, every structured, automated
business process is defined by a set
of events that follow one after another without mishap. In the actual world, stuff happens.

We well know to expect deviations or “exceptions” to a process. If, for example, the first workflow step is completion of an electronic form, the assumption is that it will be filled out fully and accurately. Any error or omission signals an exception to the process, and it’s still common to fall back on paper-based workarounds when an exception is encountered. Exceptions that need paper intervention throw up constant barriers to full process digitization.

3. Impromptu Paper in Unstructured and Personal Workflows
Examples of continued paper use persist, even in organizations heavily invested in digitization. Some paper holdouts stem from choosing paper in unstructured and personal workflows, because available digital approaches are clumsy or complex. These personal and impromptu uses of paper tend to fall outside organizational digitization strategies.

In unstructured processes, whether people are collaborating with others or working on individual tasks, each has their own personal or team-based ways of working, which may involve paper. Personal workflows may exist within more structured processes whenever someone adds a step of their own. For example, you may ask a colleague to review a document, even though the defined process doesn’t call for a review. Signatures or sign offs frequently generate a paper step. If you need a reviewer to initial a document, there’s usually a print job involved.

4. Transient Paper for Temporary Needs
A digitized, structured process sometimes generates “invisible” or transient paper (meaning not permanently associated with the workflow or tracked for print cost) whenever anyone adds a paper-based personal step. For example, an HR manager prints résumés that have been submitted electronically, works through them on paper to make acceptance and rejection decisions, then enters those decisions into the recruitment system to trigger the next step in the process — and throws the printed résumés away.

Alternatives for Digital Work
Do these entrenched realities mean we must reconcile to workplaces that still use paper — and its associated inefficiencies — for some time to come? Accepting or ignoring these conditions doesn’t solve the problem. It creates more.

What then can be done to eliminate or minimize these barriers and speed up your digital transformation? One thing to consider is digital alternatives to paper that require no process re-engineering or special digitization initiatives or training to launch. Such tools simply facilitate paperless working for tasks that typically cause people to still choose paper.

Additionally, by combining digital alternatives solutions with usage analytics, organizations can tap into data to help decide where to invest further in workflow optimization, digitization and automation. Armed with this knowledge, your enterprise is ready to move forward towards work-changing digital transformation. And that’s change that matters.

This article was originally posted on the Xerox Enterprise Matters blog. Subscribe to their blog to receive updates.

Source:: xerox news

From Idea to Product: How Xerox Research Centre of Canada Leverages Process Engineering for Innovation

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XRCC's scale-up philosophy.scale-down before scale-up

By: Marko Saban, Ph.D. and Manager, Scale-up Engineering Laboratory at Xerox Research Centre of Canada

In today’s world of technological innovation, great ideas are all around us. The tricky part for most innovators however, is how to move from ideas in the lab to the creation of the product into full-scale manufacturing.

In my work at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC), one of the ways we overcome this hurdle is by leveraging our competencies in process engineering. The goal of process engineering is to validate and optimize the ideas we created in the lab to a full-scale model before we move into the manufacturing and commercialization phase. This helps us ensure that the manufacturing process will be economical, robust, safe and environmentally friendly when scaled up to full capacity.

To do this, we begin by trying to anticipate all the process steps and equipment that will be required in the manufacturing operation. We use this list to create a proof of concept at scale and

conduct engineering studies to collect data, maximize product quality and yield, minimize process costs and ensure that health and safety regulations are met.

Once the manufacturing process has been optimized at scale, we scale the item up to full scale and manufacture a pilot item. We typically do several versions of the pilot testing to fine-tune the manufacturing process and we collect engineering data for the final large-scale manufacturing. Our philosophy is truly “scale-down before scale-up,” – a subtle but critical belief that a newly engineered process is a scale-down replica of manufacturing at actual scale rather than a simple enlargement of a lab scale.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The team at the XRCC have expertise to move just about any idea from a thought into any stage of the development cycle. Click here to learn more about their state of the art pilot plant.

XRCC will be highlighting this innovative process (and much more!) at this year’s InformEX show from February 2-4 and showcasing how their best in class chemical processes move from the concept stage to commercialization. Check out their exhibit to learn more!

About the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC)

Xerox Research Centre of Canada is the global materials research and development centre for Xerox Corporation. As one of five world renowned Xerox research facilities, we have a 40 year history of taking materials from concept through to market in a highly competitive technology environment. Our success stems from a talented team of scientists and engineers focused on delivering specialty chemicals and materials. We understand that maximum return on investment means getting to market quickly. Our experts can help you achieve your goals – and put them to work for you.

Source:: xerox news

4 Strategies to Beat SMB Growth Roadblocks

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By: John Stone

If there’s one thing almost all small to medium businesses have in common, it’s their potential for growth. A logical implication when considering the size of a company is that the smaller it is, the faster it could develop and grow. Periods of growth can be tremendously exciting for a business, but managing that growth can bring challenges. In order to overcome the obstacles before them, entrepreneurs must pay attention to the day-to-day aspects of running a business, while at the same time thinking big to create new and meaningful ways of rising above the competition. Managed the right way, small business can quickly turn into flourishing enterprises. There are thousands of success stories out there, and in this article I’ve listed some ways to get past the challenges and onto the growth with your company.

Plan for Real

Many entrepreneurs make a mistake in creating a business plan only for the purpose of fund collection, and their plans are often too ambitious to be implemented in the real world. One of the main purposes of business planning is to present the project to potential investors, but the plan itself should be realistic. Being too aggressive or blindly-optimistic can lead to number of serious financial problems down the road.

Find the right business plan for your organization. A business plan needs to be:

  • Realistic – each goal defined in the plan should be achievable;
  • Specific – it should include all strategies and methods that should be used for achieving business goals;
  • Easy to read – business plan should be read by both investors and company management and therefore it shouldn’t require any additional sources or long elaborations that are difficult to understand.

Seek all Funding Options

Lack of funding is one of the most common reason why small and medium enterprises fail, even though the digital world widens the types of funding available to entrepreneurs. If investors fail to recognize your business’s potential, you can always search for other means of funding. Taking a bank loan is very effective, but also the riskiest way to finance your business, because it ties business success to your personal finances.Crowdfunding is another very effective way to collect enough funds for starting a business and it is free in most cases. The whole concept of crowdfunding is based on consumer recognition, which means that companies which succeed in collecting enough money for their project usually don’t have problems with selling their products in the future, because crowdfunding campaigns serve as a good test of business’s potential.

Be an Accounts Receivable Jedi

Debt collection is one of the most unpleasant experiences entrepreneurs have to go through, when trying to manage small or medium enterprise. To start, you should look at your Accounts Receivable invoice and collections process carefully, to identify bottlenecks in your process. Often, managing invoices using manual or paper-only processes can create issues on your side, and there are definite benefits to migrate your workflows to digital. When you’re having trouble collecting payment from a client, your debt collection strategy should include:

  • Frequent contact with the debtor, which includes e mails, phone calls, sending reminder bills by mail, etc;
  • Discontinuing all services provided to debtor until the debt is settled;
  • Negotiation, unfortunately sometimes understanding the debtor’s situation, offering discounts and prolonging deadlines is the only way to collect debt;
  • Contacting professionals and asking for debt recovery help if needed.

Rule of thumb here is that entrepreneurs should always try to recover their debts by all means available, before settling the debt in the court of law.

Nurture Management for Success

Small companies usually have a very limited budget, which means they are unable to hire top management experts to run separate units, like: finance, production process, human resources, etc. Most small companies address this problem by hiring less experienced managers and providing them with extensive training. It’s much more affordable to hire a trainee for a managerial position and use outsourcing agency services as an additional source of expertise, than hiring top industry experts. This way, within a year or two the company could develop an expert manager in their ranks, with expertise in the business model implemented within the organization. Experts like these are also much more loyal to their companies and more resistant to rival offers.

Entrepreneurs can make their road to success much less stressful primarily by educating themselves and their employees about the challenges they will face along the way. Adapting to your competitive environment and to the latest technological changes is critical to keep your business moving forward, establishing a solid reputation in your industry. Constant drive for improvement and innovation will create an ability to quickly respond to any market-dictated changes and gradually shield your business against many vulnerabilities.


About the Author

John Stone is a business consultant and regular contributor to Bizzmarkblog. He is a believer in the notion that thinking outside of the box is a prerequisite for being a successful entrepreneur.

This article was originally published on the Xerox Small Business Solutions blog. Subscribe to their blog and receive updates on new articles.

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Take the Survey: Your Print and Digital Workflows

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How does your organization stack up? Survey closes on January 15, 2016

Information sharing still uses copy, print and fax. No one pretends that digitizing analogue workflows and business processes is easy. However, everyone knows that digital workflows and business processes are quicker, more efficient and cost less.

What print and digital workflow-related challenges have you faced? Xenith Document Systems, a Xerox platinum partner in the United Kingdom, wants to know. They’re sponsoring a survey that will reveal how your infrastructure compares with other organizations, which business functions companies are digitizing, and much more. All participants will receive a free copy of this report, which will be available toward the end of February.

Take the survey at https://www.xenith.co.uk/blog/survey

All responses must be received by Friday, January 15. The survey will gauge how organizations are using process automation, digitization, mobility and big data as they relate to documents and printing. Xenith will publish a benchmarking report based on your responses.

Source:: xerox news

Meet the Innovator: Michelle Chrétien

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In this series, we sit down with a few of our leading scientists and researchers at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC), a world-renowned materials research and development centre for Xerox with a successful track record of taking materials research from concept to market in a highly competitive technology environment. For the next few weeks, our featured innovators will share their passion for innovation and how their work is helping businesses in Canada (and around the world!) work better.

Michelle Chretien, Manager, Materials Science and Program Manager, Strategic Research
Xerox Research Centre of Canada

Tell us about your role at XRCC?

I have an operational role as Manager of the Materials Science Area at the Research Centre. Our area is a really dynamic and multi-disciplinary team of chemists, materials scientists, and physicists and we work on both fundamental and applied problems in materials science. We tackle challenges such as developing new materials and processes for 3D printing and printed/flexible electronics. We also have deep expertise in the evaluation and characterization of materials and surfaces. I feel really lucky to be a part of this fun and talented team.

Additionally, I have a technical role as the Program Manager for our Strategic Research Program. In this position I’ve had the opportunity to shape the strategic direction of some of our research as well as work with the Project Managers and technical teams on delivering our technical objectives. I really enjoy having the chance to get involved on various research projects, I never get tired of trying to solve tough problems. Also, since our project teams tend to be very interdisciplinary, this role gives me the opportunity to interact with people from all across the Research Centre.

I also work with our business development team. XRCC has a growing Client Services Business that provides contract R&D and Scale-up Engineering to other organizations. I really enjoy working with our clients to figure out how we can put XRCC’s expertise to work for them and help them achieve their business and technology goals.

(Editor’s note: Michelle is also Adjunct Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON.)

How long have you been with Xerox? What made you decide to join?

I’ve been with Xerox since 2007. While I was an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellow in Montréal, I met a chemist who was working as a Research Scientist at XRCC. When she described to me the type of commercialization-oriented, interdisciplinary science that was happening there, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. I visited the centre and was really impressed by the science and even more so by the incredible group of people I met. I was also struck by the number of women in senior technical and leadership roles. It felt like a really special place and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

What inspires you to be innovative?

I’m inspired by putting science to work. Coming together with a creative group of people to tackle a challenging problem is a lot of fun. It’s really satisfying to work with a team to find a great solution to a tough scientific or technical question, or figure out how to improve a product or process. The scientists and engineers at XRCC are a really creative bunch, with so many different backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas, it’s impossible not to be inspired.

I also firmly believe that innovation is at the heart of driving economic growth and solving many of the challenges we face today as a society. My inner geek loves science and innovation for the pure excitement and discovery but, as a parent, I’m also incredibly inspired by my kids. It’s my job to be innovative so that I can do my part in making this world a better place for them to grow and thrive. I also want to show them how important, and how fun, science and innovation can be.

What projects are you excited to be working on?

I’m really excited by and proud of the work we have been doing in printed electronics. Xerox is a pioneer in the field of printed and flexible electronics, particularly in the area of materials, and it’s exciting to be a part of building the future as this technology comes to market in a real way. Over the last year we have dramatically expanded our capabilities in terms of what and how we can produce objects and devices by printing. I’ve really enjoyed working on this with the team.

What are your passions in life? How do you spend your free time?

This might be stating the obvious, but I’m pretty passionate about science. I think it’s really important to have a populace that understands and values science; this starts with kids in pre-school and includes everyone all the way up to our politicians and policy makers. I’m fortunate to be able to devote some of my free time to science outreach activities. I’m also passionate about diversity and over the last decade have served with different organizations, like the Xerox Women’s Alliance employee resource group, that work to promote gender balance, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.

The rest of my time is for family. My husband and I have two little boys and we love spending time outdoors – camping, cycling, or just goofing around and getting muddy. Sports are an important part of our lives. Everyone plays soccer and I’ve just started my newest role as a hockey mom. We also volunteer with Eden Food for Change. It’s a nice way for us to teach the boys how important it is to give back to our community.

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Source:: xerox news

How Retailers Can Nail the Customer Experience

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By: Riyad Twahir

“If retailers can automate the collection of information throughout the store, they get a full picture of what’s working and what’s not.” – Riyad Twahir, practice lead for Retail and Consumer Goods at Xerox

Show me value, save me time, and be there to help me when I need it. If retailers satisfy these three customer requirements, then 2015 will be a good year.

We have learned many technology lessons from serving customers via the omnichannel and social presence, however retailers must remember some important in-store lessons too. Here are just a few:

Robots Can Help, but Not in the Way You Think

What customers see of your retail workforce are your people – greeting them when they walk in, consulting on buying decisions, helping navigate the store, or cashiers checking-out their purchases.

These employees are critical to a positive shopping experience. But the other element of a positive shopping experience is that the store has what customers want, when they want it. Those same greeters and consulters also spend a lot of their time counting, checking, re-checking and re-stocking inventory. The ability to quickly determine what is actually in the store and available is mission critical for retailers, but the process is labor intensive and prone to inaccuracies between inventory and on-shelf storage.

Enter robotic automation. Retailers are discovering that if they can automate the collection of information throughout the store, they get a full picture of what’s working and what’s not. This information empowers their people to act on that data faster and more creatively to improve the shopping experience and boost sales.

A robot can recognize products and labels, pinpoint the aisle and shelf where the products are located, count shelf stock, ensure merchandising compliance, and generate dashboards with time-stamped to-do lists. It can also collect important data that the sales people can act on – which items people pick up and compare, how people move through the store, and more. This video shows you how it works.

Reflect Local Preferences and Products

Large retailers are adjusting their offerings to cater to local customer needs. This move boosts loyalty and keep shoppers from going to multiple stores. And while this lesson is about saving time and showing value, it manifests into major changes in the way a retailer acquires local products and designs the store. This affects both technology and people.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The typical small vendor does not have a high-end digital system that supports processes that deliver, check, approve, invoice and re-stock product inventory. The challenge for big box retailers is that all of these processes must be done manually, which makes them more costly and time-intensive for employees. Retailers need to find extended ways of ingesting this manual work.

Once stores are localized, products will likely be located in different areas of each store. This presents a challenge for the head office team that plans, audits, enforces and tracks how each store is laid out. Video analytics and data analytics create unique store profiles from footprint and fixture points of view. These profiles indicate which merchandise is where – so it can be tracked and measured.

This automated solution does much more than count products on your shelves; it provides actionable insights (and punch lists) that will help your people fulfill your big 3 customer requirements, close out a good 2015, and get a strong start on 2016.

This article was originally published on the Xerox Simplify Work blog. Subscribe here to receive email updates when we publish a new article.

Source:: xerox news

Behind the retail scenes – how Xerox can help tackle my holiday shopping list

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Like many Canadians, the holiday season is my favourite time of the year. There is something special about gathering together to exchange gifts and toast the season with friends and family. But the “most wonderful time of the year” can be downright stressful for shoppers trying to cross items off their holiday lists, and for retailers getting ready for the largest retail spending season of the year.

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, this got me thinking – what happens behind the scenes for retailers during the holiday crush, and what tools can they use to help provide shoppers with the best possible customer experience? I sat down with Riyad Twahir, Practice Lead, Retail and CPG vertical, at Xerox with the top 3 items on my holiday shopping list to take a behind the scenes look at the tools Canadian retailers could use to put items under my tree this year.

Item #1: Xerox Robotic Mobile Analytics help bring the “force” home this season

The first item on my shopping list is also one of the season’s hottest trends – toys from the new Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens movie. According to a survey conducted by FusionOps, 69% of respondents said they were concerned that Star Wars merchandise would sell out leading into the holiday season. That means that retailers will need to plan ahead for their supply needs, and shoppers like me may need to do some legwork to find out which retailer has the items in stock.

I asked Riyad how retailers cope with this type of demand, and he described how analytics play a large role in helping retailers anticipate the hottest items of the season and what consumers will want and need. He also shared how Xerox research labs have created a robotic mobile analytics platform that can provide real time information about a store.

“The robot recognizes products and labels, and pinpoints the aisle and shelf where the products are located,” Riyad says. “It travels the store capturing and processing information from a high resolution set of cameras, recording where and how well the products are placed. The robot counts shelf stock, ensures merchandizing compliance, and generates dashboards with time-stamped to-do lists. It’s not just about stocking and promoting products. Retailers get real insight into consumer preferences – which items people pick up and compare, how people move through the store, and more.

See the robot in action here!

Click here to view the embedded video.

Item #2: Giving the gift of customer service

The next items on my list are a mobile smartphone and tablet for my parents, who tend not to be tech-savvy. With so many devices on the market, I asked Riyad what features I should look for in mobile devices to help my parents enjoy these gifts. His advice was surprising – and not a feature at all.

“One of the things I would recommend to anyone making a purchase of a mobile device, or any other investment electronics is to understand the type of support that comes with the item,” he says. “Electronics have bugs, they break down, and you need to call or visit a store for support. The experience you have at this time can absolutely impact your enjoyment and usage of an item.”

It turns out that Xerox is behind the scenes here as well, processing more than 2.5 million customer interactions worldwide. Using a retail CRM solution, Xerox works with retail partners to provide support to consumers via traditional engagements, as well as social media, and analyzes data to provide a faster response to resolve customer issues. Exactly the kind of service I want for my parents to enjoy their new devices and make the holidays a little less stressful.

Item #3: The omnichannel turkey

The last items on my list is the food for our family dinner. This is the first year I am cooking for my family, and like many holiday shoppers, price is a top consideration for me when I am looking at my dinner menu. That means checking out supermarket flyers in my area and looking for the best deals possible in-store.

“The omnichannel experience is becoming a huge expectation for consumers” Riyad says. “The experience they have looking at flyers, websites and in-store should all have the same look and feel.” Riyad recommends shopping at supermarkets where the signage and deals are clearly displayed and by doing research ahead of time to price match and compare. According to the National Retail Federation, promotions that save time and add value, such as gift cards with purchase and loyalty programs, will be offered by many retailers this season.

Xerox works with retailers across the country to help manage their marketing and communications needs, including everything from developing and managing content to deploying, tracking and measuring omnichannel marketing programs. Xerox produces in-store displays, signs, websites, flyers and a host of other materials that help consumers navigate the busy holiday stores and pick out the perfect turkey deal.

Whatever is on your list this season, take the time to check out deals, do your homework and most of all, enjoy the holidays!

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Source:: xerox news