Speaking with Khaleej Times, Ben Gale, Xerox's general manager, sales and marketing, Middle East & Africa, asked: "What do they want to do with the information? Deliver the right solution at the right time. Information must be the driver to any solution."
Although typically known for its photocopiers and office equipment, Xerox is a world leader in developing knowledge management solutions for the public and private sectors as well as for its pioneering research into "The Office of the Future." Knowledge management refers to how data and information is collated, processed and shared within an organisation to improve work efficiency and, hence, competitiveness.
"The key thing about knowledge management is that it is an enabler. It should be solution led and not driven by technology," he said. "If demand is driven by technology, you can end up with a great solution that doesn't address the right problem," he added.
Gale said the awareness of knowledge management solutions across the Middle East and Africa region is already high and continues to increase. "There is exponential growth within the region," he said, with companies in particular looking at ways to streamline workflow, by using technology such as document management. This type of technology is used by NASA and was at the front-end of the space shuttle programme, said Gale.
Technology, he said, should enable workers to "work smarter", not just harder. Document management in particular is "more about whatever people require in an ever-increasing mobile world," he said.
Across the Middle East and Africa people embrace technology faster than elsewhere, said Gale, but when it comes to "some of the processes that support business in terms of knowledge management and information, Europe is still ahead". But the gap between the regions has narrowed and it is now only two years instead of five," he said. Companies in this region are "early adopters", and competitive advantage is what they seek, he added.
Xerox's technology, especially in the realm of knowledge management, has always been leading edge but the company has often failed to commercialise it. Founded in 1970, the company's Palo Alto Research Centre (Parc) pioneered the now extinct ParcTab, which predated the Palm Pilot by eight years. And Apple Macintosh's graphical user interface was heavily inspired by Parc's innovations. Xerox claims that one of its strengths is that via Parc it has an unrivalled understanding of how customers use technology. Xerox's challenge now is to encourage uptake among its Middle Eastern customers.
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