By Monica Beltrametti, Xerox chief services research officer and vice president of the Xerox Research Centre Europe

The phrase “billion dollar opportunities” usually captures people’s attention. We introduced it two years ago as a way to describe how a strategic approach to innovation can anticipate disruptive changes in our markets, and ensure that Xerox can ride the waves of change and enable new billion dollar revenue businesses.

A more accurate description might be “transformational opportunities for services,” but those words don’t raise eyebrows or reflect the ultimate goal. A researcher’s job is to create a path for Xerox to provide services in evolving markets and come out a winner.

Until recently, the Xerox Innovation Group and the services businesses worked together in a tactical way. We consciously made this decision, because it was the best way to start working together. Our researchers looked for opportunities to apply mature, proven technologies to Xerox’s services lines of business. For example, our technology that recognizes objects in images so that our printers can produce better color photographs, has been applied to the transportation business. In its new role, our image recognition technology can read license plates for electronic tolling solutions, or determine how many passengers are in a moving car for HOV lane enforcement.

The tactical approach has been very successful. Our research has provided competitive advantages for our services businesses. But as we look across the various industries that Xerox serves, we see massive changes on the horizon that require a more strategic approach.

Billion Dollar Ideas is a series of three articles that let you in on the people and ideas behind Xerox R&D  labs around the globe. These, and other articles about Xerox innovation, are available in the Simplify Work Innovation category.

Think about ticketing machines for public transit such as buses or trains. The ticketing process can benefit from a tactical approach to innovation in the short term, but most people would want to use their smartphone for ticketing. In other words, the big opportunities that disrupt are captured with strategy and vision. We began asking questions – what is lurking and fermenting out there that will change things?

What we see today are giant opportunities — billion dollar opportunities — that we can capture. We are working with our business groups to build three-to-five-year strategic roadmaps. Our notion is that Xerox will use innovation to disrupt and lead in these various industries in a billion dollar way. In this brief video, I discuss some of the issues our researchers tackled in order to automate customer care.

We will publish a brief series of articles about some of these opportunities over the next few weeks. Keep your eye on this blog for some really great ideas.

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