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Lexmark's Goal: Solve The Nagging Problems

CEO Paul Curlander sees services that help customers solve "the nagging problems no one gets around to" driving the printer maker's future.
InformationWeek: What percentage of Lexmark's revenue is in services, and is that a growth area for you in the future?

Curlander: Today, services is a small piece of Lexmark's revenue, but it's a big piece of our strategy and our future direction--and of the way we go in and talk to the customer. We'll go in and talk about services--to me, solutions and services are the same thing: workflow, processes, as well as the opportunity to cut costs and consolidate. We'll go in and talk to the customer about that. And sometimes the customer is very interested in that; sometimes they just want to work on processes, sometimes they want to work on consolidation, and sometimes they listen to all that and are very interested, but they just want to buy hardware. Going forward, though, I can see services as a substantial part of our revenue.

InformationWeek: Would you characterize your company as being in the business-process-optimization market?

Curlander: Yes and no. We're obviously very focused on business-process optimization, but not at the enterprise level. Said differently, we're not driving huge projects for a company--in fact, we're doing just the opposite. We're going in and solving the nagging problems that nobody ever gets around to. What you see us doing is going in on a line of business, looking in a contained way at specific processes for what I would call point solutions, rather than enterprise solutions.

InformationWeek: Where do you see Lexmark five years from now?

Curlander: I think in that five-year horizon we'll see a significant shift in our corporate business over to the services side. I see us still in the printing solutions business--we feel this is our core competence. And we think it's a growth market. Pages are coming our way. With all the impact of the Internet--still, 95% of the printed pages are printed centrally; only 5% of the stuff that's printed is printed on distributed devices like ours. What that means, as all that information comes online and people can access it online, then to the extent for their own productivity they need to print it, they print it on devices that are sitting next to them or near them.

As a result, we see the number of pages being printed in a distributed manner going up. So we see it as a growth business. We see that we have core competencies in a growth business in terms of our vertical integration, in terms of our customer intimacy, our vertical-industry structure, our ability to go in and understand customers' processes and needs. We think that with these strengths, that this is the place for us to be. So I see us in this business, but as much more of a services-solutions company.