Partnering with SMART: How Xerox and SMART work collaboratively to bring the best technology to classrooms and conference rooms

Three professionals engaging in an informal chat at work provided by SMART and Xerox Business Solutions Midwest.

Michael Druwe is the A/V Solutions Specialist at Xerox Chicago Office Technology Group, a proud supplier of SMART products and other educational and commercial technology. We sat down with Michael to understand his customers wants, needs and how SMART is the best solution for them.

Let’s dive into the interview and hear from his perspective, why SMART stands out from the rest.

1. How long have you been selling SMART?

I have been selling smart for six years, almost to the date. Today is actually my six year anniversary at the Xerox Chicago Office Technology Group. Prior to that, I had been selling some competitive products to SMART so when I joined Xerox (Chicago Office Technology Group at the time) I was really excited to sell SMART and be on the winning team, so to speak.

Being part of the SMART team, I got to meet new clients and help them understand their interactive technology better in both their classrooms or conference rooms. It's been a fun ride for the last six years, I gotta say.

2. How do you use SMART Solutions in your own workspace?

Being Xerox, we have a very large team of commercial sales people who are out there leading products and technology services to their clients. We’re often talking about Xerox products as well as conference room technology.

We're trying to just expand out from just selling copiers and into being a comprehensive technology solution company. So I will go into the office maybe once a month to talk about the latest and greatest with SMART and remind our sales teams of all the incredible features SMART has. I'm the go-to SMART person for the team. Our commercial sales reps get to use SMART Boards in the conference room to look for opportunities to best showcase the technology to their clients and understand the features and functionality a little better.

Our demo unit just arrived in November, 2022 and I've made good use of that. We have brought it to a couple of client sites already and hoping to be able to bring it to more client sites (especially with the new 6000S).

3. What types of clients benefit most from SMART solutions?

I would still have to say the clients that benefit most from this technology are schools K-12. I think it’s mainly due to the fact that businesses aren’t aware of the possibilities that interactive displays bring. I know there's a lot of potential and room for growth.

Growing market share on the commercial side will be beneficial to both SMART and to Xerox Business Solutions. That industry is still relatively untapped.

4. What are your clients looking for in technology?

Well, I'm not sure that they necessarily know what they're looking for. With COVID and the introduction of hybrid work models, businesses and offices had to adapt. At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was working remotely. Now, businesses may have some people in the office and some people still working remotely.

I think their biggest challenge is trying to find the sweet spot for engaging everybody in their meetings, giving them the ability to collaborate and encourage employees to speak up and add their input. Part of that is my job to educate the client on how SMART Technologies can support engaged meetings and other spaces.

It almost always comes back to two things: ease of use and engaging remote workers. Virtual demos are always really helpful to give them a true sense of their scenario. It's going to exactly mimic what they do every day in hybrid meetings. People may be sitting in the office or on a virtual meeting but they’re all actively involved, collaborating and sharing.

5. What are some of the challenges your clients face?

I think our clients are mostly technology people, right. They're ‘director of technology’ or ‘technology coordinator’ or ‘manager’ of some sort. I think a lot of them understand the benefits that technology would bring to their organization.

But, I think one of their biggest challenges is getting user buy-in; whether it's a teacher, trainer or employee. One of the biggest fears of a technology director is that they invest in technology and it goes unused. Part of my role is to help them overcome that fear, make sure that we do the proper demos, show the benefits of the technology and offer end user support to make the buyer feel confident in their purchase decisions.

Our buyers often ask about installations. The logistics behind installations can be a real headache sometimes. Questions like “are we going to begin with one school at a time,” “should we start with the kindergarteners and work our way up,” “how will we deliver these panels to our building,” often come up in these conversations. That's another area where I'll try to coach them through different options, suggest ideas that have worked in the past and tailor the installation to their situation.

I think buyers also struggle with understanding all of the available resources that SMART has to offer. There’s a lot of content and SMART likes to keep things up to date. Communicating that to the clients is often challenging. But, being able to provide a comprehensive list of training, resources and support to our clients leaves them feeling more at ease.

6. How have SMART Solutions improved their experience?

The setup is a big part of it. Maybe in the past, educators would have to roll in a projector, wait for it to warm up or even calibrate their board. That takes away from presentation, learning and collaboration time. But now, the flat panel is instant on and easy to navigate.

The best way to describe it to first time users is that it’s as simple and intuitive to use as your smartphone or tablet. It has big icons, a browser, and all the apps that you need and are already used to.

The ‘wow factor’ goes a long way with customers; especially with commercial clients. We’ve sold these into financial planners because they bring their clients into their office space and have a need for in-person presentation tech. They'll discuss their client portfolios, show them how their investments are performing visually, use presentations platforms like PowerPoint and other multimedia content, and brainstorm together on the Whiteboard. At the end of the meeting, they have notes, files, annotations that they can deliver instantly to their client. And I think that goes a long way for not only being able to present a seamless presentation, but also validates your expertise. I think having interactive technology in a meeting space that you can use effectively, brings a lot of credibility to that organization itself.

7. In your opinion, why are these tech solutions so important to the workspace?

Again, it goes back to what I said about the ‘wow factor.’ People are visual learners and this surely stands out amongst the rest. It's instant on, no setup required, easy to navigate and ultimately, it makes presentations and learning more engaging and fun.

The tools, while they seem like ‘nice-to-haves’ are incredibly helpful to make presentations and learning more impactful. Using a Shout It Out for audience participation or check for understanding. It all generates excitement, makes teaching more fun and makes the learning and collaboration process more fun.

“We're really privileged to be partnered with SMART and we'll continue to lead with the product. We feel strongly here at Xerox that SMART is a leader in technology, not a follower. I suggest to my clients to go with the company that's been doing this the longest and does it the best. We'll make sure that your experience throughout the purchasing process is seamless and that you can get service after the sale, ongoing training, and that you have two strong company names like Xerox and SMART behind you to support you through the process.”

A big thanks to Michael Druweand the Xerox Chicago Office Technology Group for sharing their experience with SMART with us. We’re grateful for their long standing relationship and support and look forward to growing the partnership in the future.

Interested in selling SMART? We want to work with you too. Learn more about our SMART Partner Program here and connect with our channel team.