25 years of Image Systems
One of the leading office equipment suppliers, Image Systems Ltd of Strait Street, Valletta, this year celebrates 25 years in business. "Technology has changed the market," Image Systems general manager Alex Gollcher told The Sunday Times.
"Over the past five years we have moved from an analogue machine to a digital machine. The digital machine today is fully networkable, more reliable with fewer mechanical parts."
With the digital technology has come an improvement in laser technology so, Mr Gollcher pointed out, less toner is being used, and a better toner that is more environment-friendly.
The latest office equipment can be integrated into the IT structure no matter the platform - Microsoft, IBM or any other - and users can communicate with these machines, controlling them from anywhere within the office.
The latest machines from Xerox, marketed in Malta by Image Systems, are multi-function productivity centres that integrate scanning, faxing, printing and photocopying in a single unit. "The features of these machines are growing all the time and i-fax is another new development that is coming this year.
"So, we are going to see quite a culture change in the Maltese office because whereas before one would have four pieces of equipment, today you would have one piece of equipment which would give you all these kinds of services," Mr Gollcher pointed out.
Reflecting on the 25th anniversary, he said Image Systems is proud to be a market leader in its field. "This has been brought about because of our excellent reputation that we have built up with our customers; and our reputation for a benchmark-level of after- sales service, complemented with our association with a world class product like Xerox."
An added element Mr Gollcher pointed out is the 25 other members of staff, who he stressed make the business tick. "The energy they bring into the office, their attitude and enthusiasm, make this company something special. We have a very flat organisational structure. This allows everybody to get involved in most of the decision-making that is required and it also allows everybody to come face to face with our customers.
"So, everybody is very much involved in the process of delivering our product - whether it is the physical product or whether it is what we call it the customer experience - we don't call it customer service at Xerox any more. This I think is a different outlook and a different approach to the way we look at our customers."
"Xerox has a history, a heritage, which everybody within Image Systems willingly embraces," Mr Gollcher said. "They are all very proud to be associated with these products. They know they are world class products, reliable and state of the art.
"So, when you are in such a market-leading position, you feel the motivation and the drive to push forward. This has roller-coasted over a number of years and today we find ourselves seeking continual improvement and drive."
Xerox give Image Systems continuous support, plus on-site training of all the staff in all the areas needed, from sales all the way through to after-sales. "We are exposed to the Xerox philosophy, marketing and after-sales service, but we also invest in our environment, offices and all the tools that are required to deliver this service.
"Xerox's philosophy is for its products to allow people to do great work. That is its mission statement. So Xerox, over the past number of years, has decided to go back to its heartland. Five years ago Xerox was moving into an environment of high volume production and it maybe lost sight of the office environment."
Image Systems currently operates the only fully-equipped professional copy bureau, in Valletta, and is currently planning to open a second bureau in another central location. Xerox equipment is bought by a whole range of customers. "We have most of the top corporate customers in Malta - banking, manufacturing, the hotel industry and parastatal companies are our clients," Mr Gollcher said. "Then we also deal with the medium and small-sized companies and the single user small office user. So, the range is diverse and ranges across the whole scale.
"Most of our customers will require after-sales service because our equipment does need an element of maintenance, so the relationship with our customers is ongoing, critical to make sure that it is running to perfection, and we pay a lot of attention and focus on this kind of relationship."
The customer relationship has changed over the years, he went on. "Up to a couple of years ago our approach to our market was based on a selling approach, where our customers come in and we give them the best possible quotations for the equipment we have.
"In today's office environment you will find that most customers need solutions. So, today we
find ourselves giving a competitive solution to clients' document production needs. We visit our customers, analyse the situation in their office and see what documents they produce. We see how these documents move from one place to another and propose a solution that goes to reduce the cost of document production.
"We differentiate ourselves from our competitors in that we do not move boxes any more. We do not sell a photocopier. We go in. We analyse the environment. We propose solutions that will improve their bottom line. That way the customer will see the value added."
A major issue local businesses face is document management. "Any large- or medium-sized corporation needs a document management system to survive. Xerox is well placed to understand and deliver these document management solutions and, as a supplier of high-quality hardware, Xerox and Image Systems in Malta do not look at themselves as providing the whole solution.
"We make things happen. We will provide our equipment, our hardware and our expertise and allow our technology to fit into any IT environment. And that is the exciting thing for us today - that we are not bound to any particular IT platform. It is open and it can integrate with all of them."
On top of all this is quality. "Our products enable us to deliver quality whether it is in paper or printing. Our range is so wide and so deep that we can offer various customised solutions to any of our customers using different products from different ranges."
Coupled with this is a total customer satisfaction guarantee. Every customer who buys a Xerox product from Image Systems and takes a maintenance contract for the initial term will be guaranteed full customer satisfaction.
"If at any point in time during the ownership of this product he feels that he is not happy with this product, we will automatically replace it with an equivalent machine for him with no questions asked.
"I am happy to say that none of our customers need to call in this guarantee but for most of them it is peace of mind. When you are running an environment where you are dependent on a multi-functional product which is not allowed to fail and which you are investing a certain amount of money in, you want to ensure that this guarantee is in place."
Image Systems are celebrating their pioneering work in the field of office equipment with an Extreme Seminar on Wednesday morning at Hilton Malta. The first session of the seminar is a live demonstration of the latest Xerox office products, including the wireless office, security and the new generation fax. Next comes document management solutions, then a 25th anniversary presentation, with the launch of a new Website and ISO certification presentation. IT Minister Austin Gatt will give the closing address.
Image Systems held a similar seminar last year that so impressed its regional headquarters in Dubai that for the first time it held its regional meeting earlier this year in Malta. "When one hosts these conferences in Dubai, which is a very high quality environment, - next to total luxury - for them to have chosen Malta was a very big honour for us; not only for us but for the Maltese in general because it showed a very high amount of confidence in the Maltese product and very much an appreciation of what we, Image Systems, are doing within the global framework of Xerox operations."
Xerox, Mr Gollcher stressed, remain highly committed to Malta, despite its relative size. "More often than not, Xerox use the Maltese market as a case study for product launches, marketing campaign or a customer-related activity. That does us a lot of honour. It also gives us an indication that they view the Maltese market to be relatively developed compared to other markets."