Interview with Ron Conlee, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Xerox

Ron Conlee, SVP, and Chief Innovation Officer, Xerox, recently provided his perspective on how Innovation is a core competency at Xerox in a recent interview facilitated by Raida Hicks, Program Director, NCS Madison. You will have the opportunity to meet with Ron Conlee at the CIO Strategy Meeting, on August 22-23 in Chicago, during his group discussion session “Enabling and Managing Innovation” and the networking time.


Read the full interview below.

  1. How successful has Xerox been at Enabling and Managing Innovation?
  • “Innovation is a core competency at Xerox as demonstrated by the long legacy of the inventions and patents from our heralded Research & Development capability. Our Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) is well known as the birthplace of the PC, Graphical User Interfaces, Ethernet, the mouse and a litany of printing technologies. What’s really important is how we have applied our innovation focus to our business process services. Real world examples of how we have deployed innovative solutions to benefit our clients include:
    • The integration of sensor technology, smart imaging and business algorithms are at the heart of our transportation solutions, which enable smoother experiences for users of toll roads and city center parking.
    • The use of robotic process automation to augment the human worker to enable improved process cycle time, improved process quality and other demonstrable business results.
    • The application of advanced analytics to improve population wellness in our health care business by helping medical professionals identify and prevent disease outbreaks.
    • The use of machine learning and cognitive computing to improve the client experience by resolving client questions/issues when contacting a care center.”

2. What are your key priorities in the next 12-18 months?

  • “My team has four key priorities over the next 12-18 months
    1. Embedding robotic process automation technology (RPA) across the broad base of Xerox Services’ capabilities so that our clients can capitalize on improving business process efficiency, quality, cost and cycle time. We believe effectively applied RPA can also achieve significant business metric results such as improved cash flow, higher business margins and improved customer satisfaction.
    2. Accelerate the application of advanced analytics such as predictive as prescriptive solutions across the spectrum of our vertical industry interests so that our clients can provide increased value to their clients.
    3. Aggressively deploy our next generation customer care technology infrastructure which is designed to create an improved client experience by capitalizing on cognitive computing techniques to expedite problem resolution.
    4. Operationalizing innovation. I’m working closely with our business leadership to create a company culture which embraces both business and technology change so that we can:
      • Achieve greater levels of customer satisfaction for our clients and their clients
      • Improve our own employee satisfaction by complementing their work with new applications of technology such as RPA.
      • Improve the return to our shareholders by reducing our cost structure, improving margin and generating higher levels of revenue (expanding our business with current clients and being a very attractive option for new clients)”

3. How will Xerox create new sources of value?

  • “RPA and cognitive computing are examples of technologies that will disrupt the business process outsourcing industry. Our goal is to work with our clients to put a plan in place to not only apply the technologies in “spot” situations, but to scale the application appropriately across their enterprise. Xerox has developed proprietary software that uniquely provides this capability (known as Xerox Case Management)”
  • “We also have defined focus on helping our clients to accelerate their digital business process transformation journeys. This includes integrating a wide variety of technologies such as the cloud, mobility, social media, security, and the Internet of Things to their unique needs.”

4. In your view, what will be the critical factors to establishing a culture of innovation?

  • “Achieving successful organization change is always difficult for a variety of reasons including organizational inertia in historical directions, a long track record of success by doing business a particular way or organizations that are sensitive to the “not invented here” syndrome.”

5. How would you define your success?

  • “I use broad business framework to define success. It has three components:
    1. Employees—Creating a great place to work so that our organization attracts and retains talented individuals.
    2. Clients—Being a key enabler for the Xerox team through the introduction of innovation to improve our existing client relationships and attract new customers. It is also very important for us to ensure that our clients are able to achieve higher levels of client satisfaction with their clients.
    3. Xerox Shareholders—Improving the value of the Xerox enterprise so that we meet the market’s expectations for growth, margin expansion and shareholder returns. I believe innovation is fundamental to that value creation.”

6. Why have you decided to join us at the CIO Strategy Meeting, and what would you like to share at the meeting?

  • “I feel strongly that our IT and Business Services industries are at an inflection point similar to those that we saw at the dawn of the client/server, e-business and internet eras. The combination of advancing computing power and new technologies (RPA, Cognitive Computing, IoT, Cloud, etc) represent an opportunity to “digitize” business in ways not possible in past. I’m interested to both share how Xerox and our clients, capitalize on related innovation and in developing relationships with leaders here to understand how they plan to apply new age innovation to their enterprises.”