In a changing commercial world seeking efficiency and productivity gains by cutting the amount of paperwork handled, Lexington-based business solutions provider Lexmark is phasing out its inkjet printers product line to focus on office multipurpose devices (MPD) that can perform data management services.
Advanced users today can use their MPD to automatically route documents such as purchase orders to multiple destinations and databases, receive jobs from mobile devices in the field, and automatically generate security alerts if key words or phrases are detected – because, yes, modern printers can “read.”
In the past two years, Lexmark has acquired software companies with sophisticated imaging, data harvesting and information management capabilities so it can provide business solutions in today’s increasingly digital, less paper-intensive workplaces. The new line of 42 products introduced in October includes a line of networked multifunction scan-copy-fax-printers.
Laser printers are not going away any time soon, though, according to company officials, who say a majority of the products Lexmark sells in 2012 will continue to be printers.
In August, the company announced restructuring plans, which included cutting 1,700 jobs worldwide – almost 13 percent of its workforce – as it jettisons the inkjet printer business. Significantly for Kentucky, about 550 jobs at its Lexington corporate headquarters are on the chopping block.
The action is expected to result in annualized savings of $95 million once fully implemented, according to the company. This was the second restructuring plan in less than a year for Lexmark, which in January 2012 announced 625 job cuts.
Lexmark says it is offering support services to laid off workers to help them find jobs. The non-profit Kentucky Science and Technology Corp., meanwhile, is encouraging engineers and other skilled but now out of work employees to consider becoming entrepreneurs. KSTC wants the Central Kentucky workforce to retain their engineering and product development tech skills.
Their strategy shift is more evolution than revolution, Lexmark officials say. It reflects the diversity of needs in a global marketplace that ranges from legions of small offices and companies to multinationals with hundreds of locations. In the hands of advanced users, the evolving capabilities the newest devices offer are ever more impressive, but those elite functions aren’t for everyone.
Paperless office not here yet
“In the late ’90s we could see the convergence of copiers and printers,” said Keith Jones, vice president of worldwide product marketing for Lexmark. “In 2012, we still sell more printers than multifunction products.”
The company began as a 1991 spinoff from IBM, which divested its printer operations to the investment firm Clayton & Dubilier Inc. in a leveraged buyout; at that time more than two decades ago, the move was said to reflect IBM’s belief that the paperless office was fast approaching and soon to render the printer business unprofitable. Lexmark became a publicly traded company in 1995 and hit the Fortune 500 in 1999. It was most recently in the Fortune 500 in 2008.
Being a Fortune 500 member is good but is less a prime focus than remaining vital in today’s changing business environment, say company officials, who report strong growth. Lexmark added contracts with 19 Fortune 500 companies in the past two years, Jones said, while maintaining a 100 percent renewal rate with this top tier of clients.
“We see function shift,” said Marty Canning, executive vice president and president of Imaging Solutions and Services. Lexmark communicates with its customers and target clients to closely track “the leading edge activities.”
As it moves forward in a digital world, Lexmark believes “the synergies between imaging and the emerging software elements of our business will continue to drive growth across the organization,” said Paul Rooke, Lexmark chairman and CEO.
In the past two years, Lexmark has acquired at least six software companies with the technology to help it create new business solutions products and services. In the past 12 months, it invested $257 million to acquire four software companies.
While it foresees more growth in software services, Lexmark will continue to be a manufacturer, Canning said. And it will continue to have a strong presence in Lexington.
There are about 2,500 employees at the corporate headquarters, most of whom are highly skilled. The company expects its Lexington employment to stay in the 2,500 to 3,000 range for the foreseeable future, Canning said.
New technology for more productivity
Lexmark International showcased some of its new products at the December media event. It was a local follow-up to the company’s October unveiling of new laser printers and multifunction products (MFPs) built on an enhanced technology platform that delivers productivity-enhancing solutions. The MFPs include an intuitive touch screen that provides access to applications that reduce the complexities of manual processes and improve productivity.
The integration of smart MFPs with the Perceptive Software portfolio helps improve infrastructure efficiency and team performance to propel growth, the company said.
Lexmark also announced its Secure Content Monitor, a solution that mitigates risk and protects companies and agencies from potential threats to confidential information, profits and productivity by enabling businesses to automatically track and audit sensitive information. It is a valuable service for those operating in highly competitive businesses and industries where intellectual property theft and business espionage occur.
In addition to its new laser products, other products include:
• Perceptive Mobile for Windows allows users to participate in business processes, seamlessly view and interact with associated content, update a case and make decisions from their Windows 8 device virtually anywhere.
• Perceptive eAuthorize, powered by AssureSign, allows any document to be electronically sent to any Perceptive Software user or third party in order to obtain a compliant electronic signature, followed by automatic uploading and storage of the signed document in Perceptive Software’s enterprise content management solution.
“The intelligence offered through Lexmark’s devices is a key differentiator, and when combined with our state-of-the-art imaging technology, we are able to provide our customers unmatched capabilities in a solutions portfolio,” said Canning. “Our … MFPs are the backbone to the many workflow solutions we provide, and this close marriage between our hardware and software portfolios is what gives our customers access to unavailable information and improves customer satisfaction.”
• Print Release allows a print job to be sent from any work station or device anywhere, including a mobile device in the field, and released later at the printer by its sender – allowing for preview, elimination of selected pages, or updating. Print Release can be set up inside a network or inside a cloud.
“Workers increasingly are on the move around the world or within a site,” Jones said.
These newest MFPs are greener, too, than their predecessors, using 30 to 40 percent less materials. The lowest-end printers, meanwhile, are cheaper; black and white business printers begin at less than $600 and color printers at under $800.
Learn more about Lexmark’s products at lexmark.com.