The company that redefined 20th-century office work redefines work for the future with Internet of Things, 3D printing, and augmented reality.
“We’re able to operate in a very nimble way, where we can spin up a new business in just a few weeks, all without switching to a different platform. That’s the beauty of the Oracle Cloud solution.”
Because we are an innovative company, speed to market is very important. Oracle Cloud innovations let us hit the ground running, without a lot of customization
Prioritizing creativity and speed
Xerox may have pioneered modern office technology, but the company today is taking its expertise far beyond office walls, from monitoring the health of bridges and roads, to providing 3D printing for manufacturing.
The company has created a model to incubate “high-impact businesses that solve real-world problems at massive scale,” says Naresh Shanker, Xerox senior vice president and chief technology officer. Aging and deteriorating infrastructure, for example, requires solutions involving the Internet of Things (IoT), so Xerox is applying its knowledge and talent to the cause. Creativity and speed are the coin of this realm.
But until recently, it took Xerox teams up to three months to implement the IT systems needed to support a new venture—an eternity in the digital economy. To break free from older technologies, Shanker’s team began reviewing cloud systems that would allow new businesses born inside Xerox to launch and monetize services much faster.
Keeping it ‘all in the family’
To fast-track new businesses, Xerox chose an integrated set of Oracle Cloud solutions. This “Oracle-in-a-box” approach gives its businesses all they need to get up and running: an online storefront in Oracle Commerce, finance and accounting in Oracle NetSuite, budgeting and financial planning in Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), and integration in every direction via Oracle Integration, a key component of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).
Besides providing integration, OCI gives Xerox access to Oracle Autonomous Database, an enterprise data warehouse that lets its new businesses manage data with zero administration and run advanced analytics. Xerox can also tap the power of OCI High Performance Computing when, for instance, researching potential new businesses. Under OCI’s Universal Credits purchasing option, Xerox can mix and match any OCI services.
With this Oracle toolset, these new Xerox businesses can sell online, create orders, process invoices, track performance, and do financial planning, plus send and receive data every which way—all up and running in weeks, not months, and all without having to wait for IT’s assistance. Having so many pieces from one cloud fit Xerox’s strategic goals.
“We wanted to keep these solutions all in the family, so to speak,” says Sreedhar Vaidyanathan, vice president, digital transformation. “This avoids the headaches of too many vendors and platforms. Oracle’s solutions make it simple for our new businesses to roll up to the mother ship, and vice versa. It’s easy to track performance.”
And there’s one performance metric that’s more key than others: speed to market. Xerox’s 3D printing business shows how technology is moving the needle.
Launching the IT infrastructure for 3D printing in weeks
A Xerox team was able to stand up the IT infrastructure in just six weeks for the Xerox 3D printing business.
Xerox’s 3D printing solutions are focused on creating more resilient and flexible supply chains for manufacturers. With 3D printing, customers can order spare parts locally, or even manufacture parts themselves, instead of ordering from far-flung, cross-ocean sources. This capability speeds up delivery and reduces the impact of supply chain disruptions.
In late 2020, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, installed a Xerox ElemX 3D Printer, to explore manufacturing parts at sea. The goal is to install a printer on a Navy ship, so sailors in remote areas can fix or replace parts on demand instead of carrying excess inventory or having to send a plane to the middle of the ocean to bring the spare parts.
In the back office, by automating processes such as procure-to-pay and quote-to-cash, the Xerox 3D printing team “gained the ability to transact right out of the gate,” Vaidyanathan says. “There’s no waiting to generate invoices and start collecting revenue, and we’re able to scale as much as needed. We can replicate this process for any new venture. We don’t have to implement a different platform every time we launch.”
As Xerox businesses grow, Oracle Cloud EPM consolidates and connects data to help the company evaluate financial performance across the portfolio. “We can look under the hood to see how each business is doing, and compare it to other units,” Vaidyanathan says. “What do their financials look like? Are they in compliance? We have clear lines of sight.”
Tackling business and societal problems with innovation
The same Oracle solutions power Xerox’s software business, CareAR, which launched earlier this year. Using augmented reality (AR) technologies, the CareAR service experience management (SXM) platform enables field service teams to provide remote customer support. Equipped with visual tools and access to data, field technicians can work remotely to help customers solve problems faster and skip costly on-site visits. For equipment owners, receiving expert guidance is as easy as using your cell phone, tablet, or smart glasses.
Equally innovative is Eloque, Xerox’s joint venture with the Victorian government in Australia. Xerox developed technology that remotely monitors bridges, drawing on deep experience in sensors, analytics, and artificial intelligence to bring the physical world online.
To ensure the structural integrity of bridges, tiny fiber optic sensors are attached to measure and estimate structural strain, thermal response, bending, loads, vibrations, and corrosion, which are all indicators of structural health. When sensors detect a problem, field technicians are automatically alerted to investigate. Such real-time responses let bridge operators and owners decide whether a bridge is being over- or underutilized, or has structural problems that need repair.
As a key partner supporting Xerox, Oracle “has come up with a lot of creative ideas to keep things moving forward,” Vaidyanathan says. “They’ve been instrumental in our journey.” As Xerox brings more breakthrough technologies to market via these new businesses, Oracle Cloud will continue to be an important platform for these ambitious new ventures.
“If someone has a greenlighted idea, they can come to us today and tomorrow we’ll give them the basic toolset,” he says. “With Oracle, there’s a complete package that any new business can run with.”